The Hungarian American Coalition (Coalition) elected its Officers and Board at the Coalition’s sixth Annual Meeting, held Saturday, December 7, at the Kossuth House in Washington, DC.
The Coalition elected the following officers: Rev. Imre Bertalan, Chairman; Edith Lauer, President; Vice Presidents Gábor Bodnár, Rev. István Mustos, Dr. Balázs Somogyi, and Bishop Dr. Francis Vitéz. Also elected were Secretary, Julius Várallyay; and Treasurer, Zsolt Szekeres. Of the Coalition’s 29 Board Members, 21 attended the Annual Meeting representing organizations from as far away as Denver, Seattle and Hawaii. The Annual Meeting reelected Rev. Imre Bertalan and Paul Fekete to three-year terms as individual members.
Following the Annual Meeting, the new Board considered several resolutions concerning the Coalition’s future projects. Among them, the Coalition Board approved funding for the Seventh Annual Human Rights Workshop which is co-sponsored by the Hungarian Communion of Friends and the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation, as well as the continuation of the White House Internship Program by Ameritech. In addition, the Coalition expressed its continuing commitment to exploring and broadening areas of cooperation with fellow Hungarian American organizations. The board unanimously accepted new members, including the time honored American Hungarian Federation.
This weekend’s Coalition-sponsored activities began Friday afternoon, at a White House Briefing organized especially for Coalition Members. Speakers were: Marilyn diGiaccobe, Associate Director, Office of Public Liaison; Daniel Fried, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director, Central and Eastern Europe, National Security Council; Rudolph Perina, Senior Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs, Department of State; and Donald Herr, NATO Policy Office, Department of Defense.
Following each speaker’s formal presentation, Coalition members put questions to the Administration officials. Topics discussed included the Administration’s approach to collective human rights for national minorities; the urgent need for Romania to return church properties which had been confiscated by the communists; requirements for an accelerated entry of Hungary into NATO; and ways to effectively include the input of Hungarian American organizations into U.S.-sponsored aid projects to Hungary. At the conclusion Mrs. Lauer expressed the appreciation of the Coalition for the continued access and good working relationship which continues to develop between the White House and the Coalition. Peter Ujvági recalled President Clinton’s understanding and immediate response to the significance of the 40th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.
As in previous years, the 1996 Coalition’s Annual Meeting coincided with the Coalition’s traditional Mikulás Dinner. This year, the festive and elegant dinner was hosted at the German Embassy House, where the 74 dinner guests were greeted by the Count Nikolaus Lambsdorff from the German Embassy. The dinner guests included H.E. Ambassador Dr. György Bánlaki, Hungarian ambassador to the United States; Ms. Zsófia Trombitás, Secretary for Cultural and Educational Affairs, the Embassy of Hungary; Ms. Marilyn diGiaccobe, Associate Director, Office of Public Liaison, the White House; Honorary Consuls of the Republic of Hungary László Böjtös, Mrs. Emese Komjáthy-Pring; Eugene Megyesy, Jr.; and Mrs. Helen Szablya. Also present were, Lynn Lambert, Deputy Chief of Mission Designate to the U.S. Embassy in Budapest; Michael Michalak, Deputy Assistant, Democracy Program for Eastern Europe, Department of State; and representatives of the Polish American Congress, Mr. and Mrs. Casimir Lenard, and from the Armenian Assembly of America, Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Jemal.