Hungarian American Coalition Holds Annual Meeting and Meeting of Board of Directors

Washington, DC – László Hámos, President of the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation succeeds Charles Vámossy as Chairman of the Board

Washington, DC – On December 6, 2003, the Hungarian American Coalition held its 12th Annual and Board Meetings at the Kossuth House in Washington, DC. László Hámos took over the rotating Chairmanship of the organization, and the Board unanimously elected Imre Lendvai-Lintner, President of the Hungarian Scouts Association Abroad as Rising Chairman for 2005.

At the Annual Meeting two individual Board members were elected for a three-year term: Andrea Lauer Rice from Atlanta, Georgia, and Mr. László Fülöp from Minneapolis, Minnesota, while Edith Lauer, Géza Kádár, Jr, Peter Kovalszki, Zsolt Szekeres, Julius Várallyay, and Charles Vámossy were each reelected for a three-year term.

The Board also reelected the following organizational members for the 2003-2006 term:  American Hungarian Clergy Association, Bethlen Home, Calvin Synod of the United Church of Christ, Hungarian American Cultural Association – Kossuth Club, Hungarian Communion of Friends, Hungarian Human Rights Foundation, Hungarian Scout Association Abroad and the Hungarian Reformed Federation of America.  The Board welcomed as a new organizational member the Friends of Hungarian Higher Education Foundation and Dr. András Mogyorósi as a new individual member.

On December 5, a delegation of 25 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 Ms. Tracy McKibben, Director for European Economic Affairs and EU Relations from the National Security Council; Mr. Michael Mozur, Director, North Central European Affairs; Mr. John P. Becker, Advisor for Property Restitution, Mr. Edward J. Ramatowski, Director, Office of Public and Diplomatic Liaison Visa Services, and Ms. Jane Messenger, Hungary Desk Officer from the Department of State.  Topics of discussion included Hungary’s impending accession to the European Union and its implications for US policy in the region, the situation of the Hungarian minorities in the neighboring countries, focusing in particular on property restitution in Romania, where the case of the reformed High School in Cluj/Kolozsvár was presented as a primary example of the Romanian government’s failure to fully implement their own decisions on property restitution to their minorities.  Other topics included the decision to close the Taszár military base, the recent death of a Hungarian national in Iraq, and the changes in granting visas to Hungarians in light of the new regulations coming into effect next year and the role of the Department of Homeland Security.

Later that evening, Coalition members and guests attended the traditional Mikulás Dinner hosted by His Excellency Mr. András Simonyi and Mrs. Simonyi at the Hungarian Embassy.  Acting as Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Maximilian Teleki read a message, commending the work of the Coalition, from Senator George V. Voinovich, from Ohio.  Ambassador Simonyi reflected on developments between Hungary and the United States, and relayed greetings from present U.S. Ambassador George H. Walker and former Ambassador Nancy Goodman Brinker to those in attendance.

The keynote speech was delivered by Mr. Janusz Bugajski, Director, Eastern Europe Program, Center for Strategic International Studies.  Mr. Bugajski reflected on the politics, policies and priorities Hungary faces with its impending membership in the European Union; the need for Hungary to formulate a long-term strategy that transcends the election cycles and provides a base for bipartisan cooperation in the area of foreign affairs; the implications for Hungary of becoming an integral member of what Mr. Bugajski called “Euromerica”.

Mr. Charles Vámossy, Coalition Chairman, commented on the Coalition’s activities during 2003 citing the Public Policy Training and Seminar as a particularly successful project that helped improve Hungarian-American relations.

In the spirit of the Holiday Season, the evening concluded by the singing of Christmas carols in Hungarian and English by the „Impromptu Coalition Choir Ensemble.”

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