Washington, DC – On December 7, the Hungarian American Coalition held its 11th Annual Meeting at the Kossuth House in Washington, DC. The Board unanimously voted Mrs. Edith Lauer as Chairman of the Board Emerita, honoring her for 11 years of indefatigable service to the Hungarian American community.
The Board reelected Mr. Laszlo Varju of Chicago as Board member. Also reelected for another three-year term were the National Committee of Hungarians from Slovakia and the Hungarian (Magyar) Club of Chicago. Newly elected to the Board were Dr. Beata Kovacs Nas and Mr. Peter Soltesz. The Board also welcomed as individual members Monty and Emese Palmer of Chicago, Mr. Sandor Nagy of Arlington, VA, and Ms. Zora Ludwig of Hammond, IN.
The Board amended the Coalitions by-laws by establishing the Rotating Chairmanship and the election of a Rising-Chair to actively involve two new leaders each year. The Board elected Mr. Charles Vamossy as Chairman of the Board and Mr. Laszlo Hamos as Rising Chairman for 2004. The Board also elected the following new officers: Mr. Zsolt Szekeres, President and Mr. Peter Soltesz, Treasurer. Mr. Julius Varallyay was reelected as Secretary of the Coalition.
On December 6, a delegation of 45 Coalition members participated in a White House Briefing arranged by Mr. J.D. Estes, Deputy Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison. Briefers included Mr. Walter Andrusyszyn, Director for European and Eurasian Affairs, National Security Council; from the Department of State, Ms. Heather A. Conley, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs; Mr. Randolph Marshall Bell, Special Envoy on Holocaust Issues; with a brief introduction by Mr. Eugene Young, Hungary Desk Officer. Topics of discussion included Hungarian-American relations during 2002, including the recent White House visit of Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy, a summing up of important points of the recent NATO Summit held in Prague, and the situation of the Hungarian minorities in the neighboring countries, focusing on neglected issues such as the undue delay in the restitution of communal property, particularly in Romania and Slovakia. To the questions of several Coalition members regarding the priorities of conditions the new invited countries will be expected to fulfill before their ratification by all present members of NATO, the conditions of corruption and property restitution were identified to be very important.
That evening, Coalition members and guests attended the traditional Mikulás Dinner hosted by His Excellency Mr. Andras Simonyi and Mrs. Simonyi at the Hungarian Embassy. Acting as Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Julius Varallyay read messages from Ambassador Nancy Goodman Brinker, and from Senator George V. Voinovich, from Ohio. The keynote speech was delivered by Mr. Daniel Fried, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President, National Security Council. Mr. Fried commended the work of Mrs. Edith Lauer in the NATO enlargement process, and thanked her for her contributions in helping create a free, democratic, and united Europe. Mr. Fried also recognized Mrs. Lauers untiring work to help Hungarian minorities, especially in the area of church property restitution.
Mrs. Edith Lauer, Coalition Chairman, summed up the past 11 years and vowed to continue supporting the causes she worked for as leader of the Coalition. As she reflected on her 11 years as a Coalition leader, she urged future leaders to do everything possible to pass on the commitment and love of Hungary to the next generation. She concluded: “If there is one thing I have learned, it is this: One person can make a tremendous difference! I can say without reservation that is what I tried to do.
As a gift of the Board of Directors, Mr. Max Teleki presented Mrs. Lauer a wooden sculpture of Madonna with Child by prominent Transylvania sculptor, Tibor Szervatiusz.
Also present at the Mikulas Dinner were Congressman and Mrs. Ernest Jim Istook, Jr. from Oklahoma, Ms. Heather Conley, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State; Mr. and Mrs. Tom Robertson, former Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy, Budapest; Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Reeker, Deputy Spokesman of the Secretary of State; Mr. Michael Muzor, Director, North Central European Affairs, Department of State, Mr. Eugene Young, Hungarian Desk Officer, Department of State, Mr. James Dean, Legislative Assistant, Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, and Mr. and Mrs. Scott Simon, National Public Radio.
The Hungarian American Coalition is a nationwide non-profit organization that promotes public understanding of issues of Hungarian American interest.