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

Imre Lendvai-Lintner, President of the Hungarian Scout Association Abroad succeeds László Hámos, President of the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation, as Chairman of the Board

On December 4, 2004, the Hungarian American Coalition held its 13th Annual General and Board Meetings at the Kossuth House in Washington, DC.  Mr. Imre Lendvai-Lintner took over the rotating Chairmanship of the organization, and the Board elected Mr. George Dozsa, Chairman of the Board of the Hungarian Reformed Federation of America, as Rising Chairman for 2006.

At the Annual Meeting the membership elected Mr. István Hargitai, from North Olmstead, Ohio, while the following individual Board members were re-elected for a three-year term:  Ms. Eva Voisin from San Francisco, California; Mrs. Anne Bader, from Washington, D.C.; Mr. István Füzesi from Hamden, Connecticut; Mr. George Pogan, Chagrin Falls, Ohio and Mr. Maximilian Teleki from Washington, D.C.

The Board also re-elected the following organizational members for the 2004-2007 term: TheAmerican Hungarian Federation of Metropolitan Washington, D.C.; the Hungarian American for Human Rights in Délvidék; the Magyar Club of Cleveland, the Minnesota Hungarians and theSeattle-Pécs Sister Cities Association.

The newly elected officers of the Coalition are: Mr. Maximilian Teleki, President, Mr. Zsolt Szekeres, Treasurer and Mr. Peter Soltész, Secretary.  Mr. Teleki has been active in the Coalition since 1994, first as a graduate student intern, later, in 1995, participated in the Coalition’s White House Internship program. Recently, Mr. Teleki served as both a Board member and also as a member of the Executive Committee. “I take great pride in this honor, and I am humbled by your confidence in me. I stand on the shoulders of those who preceded me in this position and I feel privileged by your friendship” – Mr. Teleki said in his acceptance remarks.

The Coalition’s weekend activities began on Friday, December 3, with the traditional White House Briefing, a delegation of about 45 Coalition members attended in the prestigious Indian Treaty Room.  The briefers included Ms. Heather Conley, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, who highlighted the shared values between Hungary and the United States, despite differing positions on particular issues. Mr. Damon Wilson, Director, East-Central European Affairs, National Security Council, who provided an overview of US-Hungarian relations, identifying specific areas of cooperation between the two allies; Mr. Henry Kelly, Analyst, Bureau of European Affairs, Department of State, who spoke about the situation of the Hungarians in Vojvodina, a major concern of the Hungarian American community.  Questions related to the issue of property restitution in Romania were discussed by Ambassador Ed O’Donnell, Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, Department of State and Mr. Bill Silkworth, Desk Officer for Romania. Finally, Ms. Christine Kagarise, of the Europe Desk of the Visa Office, Department of State made a presentation about visa issues concerning Hungarian visitors to the U.S.. The briefing was concluded by remarks from Ms. Jane Messenger, Desk Officer for Hungary, Department of State. In the two-hour-long session Coalition members received detailed answers to questions from each presenter on issues of interest to Coalition members.

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. Mr. Maximilian Teleki, who also servered as Master of Ceremonies greeted the distinguished gathering and read a letter from U.S. Ambassador George H. Walker expressing regrets for not being able to attend and sending his good wishes to the members of the Coalition.

Mr. László Hámos, Chairman of the Board, reflected on the Coalition’s work in 2004 and introduced the Honorable Tom Lantos, Ranking Member of the House International Relations Committee who was the evening’s keynote speaker. Mr. and Mrs. Lantos were accompanied by 11 members of their family. In an inspiring speech, Congressman Lantos, professed both his love for and pride in his Hungarian heritage, but also expressed his regret at anti-American sentiments he recently noted in Hungary. He voiced his disappointment in the Hungarian Parliament’s recent decision for immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq, and also gave voice to his deep disillusionment at the failure of European states such as France, and Germany to stand with the United States in Iraq.

Edith Lauer, Chairman Emerita presented an award to Janet Garvey, Director of North and Central European Affairs, Department of State, in recognition of her contribution to the improvement of Hungarian American relations during three years of outstanding service as Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Budapest. Among the official guests, former U.S. Ambassador, Nancy Brinker, also attended the Mikulás Dinner.

Ambassador Simonyi commended the Coalition for its many years of work to promote Hungarian American understanding in the U.S. and Hungary. He stressed the importance of non-partisan efforts to reach political consensus in Hungary on issues such as Hungary’s obligations to its allies in Iraq and elsewhere.

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” and the beautiful singing of Ms. Charity Tillerman-Dick, granddaughter of Congressman and Mrs. Tom Lantos.

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