Hungarian American Coalition Leaders Meet with U.S. Ambassadors to Yugoslavia, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary

Coalition leaders took advantage of the presence in Washington of US Ambassadors to Europe to participate in four highly informative meetings last week with new U.S. Ambassadors, William Montgomery (Yugoslavia), Ronald Weiser (Slovakia), and Michael Guest (Romania). Coalition representatives at the various meetings included: Chairman Edith Lauer, Executive Committee Members,Ede Chaszar, Laszlo Hamos, Frank Koszorus, Jr. and Julius Varallyay, as well as Emese Latkoczy and Peter Jozsa.

In the meeting with Ambassador Montgomery (Yugoslavia), the major topic of discussion was the question of restoration of Vojvodina’s autonomy, a legitimate aspiration that enjoys strong support of Vojvodina’s multi-ethnic population as well as the support of several members of Congress and a variety of ethnic and religious NGOs in the United States. The participants also raised other important issues: the Ambassador’s contacts with ethnic Hungarian leaders; the plan to offer a Congressional resolution in support of Vojvodina’s autonomy; and the factors that form the basis of conditionality of U.S. support for Yugoslavia.

Next, the Coalition group met with Ronald Weiser, Ambassador to Slovakia. In a discussion that included several points of controversy, participants focused on prospects for the national elections in Fall, 2002; the role of the Hungarian Coalition Party in both the present and a potential governing coalition; the effect of the Hungarian Status Law in Slovak politics; the questions that determine the feelings of identity of Hungarians in Slovakia; the Ambassador’s contacts with leaders of the Hungarian community; the still unresolved situation of establishing a Hungarian Department at Konstantin University in Nyitra (Nitra); and the problem of pollution in the village of Nagyida, located near the U.S. Steel plant in Kassa (Kosice).

At the end of the meeting Coalition representatives urged Ambassador Weiser to speak out against the language of hate and intolerance by Slovak officials that is unfortunately still too often directed against the Hungarian ethnic community of Slovakia.

In the third meeting, Coalition members had a highly informative exchange with Ambassador Michael Guest, Ambassador to Romania. Also present at the meeting were John Becker, Advisor for Property Restitution, Janet Mayland, Office of International Freedom, Donald Sheehan, Romanian Desk Officer, and Eugene Young, Hungarian Desk Officer.

The question of the long-sought restitution of church properties was foremost on the agenda.Participants stressed to the Ambassador that the restitution issue is key not only for the Hungarian community in maintaining its historic religious and educational institutions, but is also an important test of Romania’s commitment to justice, reform, the rule of law, and its respect for both private and communal property. A list of 1,632 confiscated church properties was presented to the Ambassador and State Department officials by the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation. Other topics of discussion included the situation of the Sapientia Foundation established to support the private Hungarian University that recently began operations in four cities; the legitimate aspiration and continued need for a Hungarian university supported by the state; and the recent acts by Romanian officials to intimidate members of the “Csango” Hungarian minority that live in small enclaves in Eastern Romania.

Ambassador Guest assured Hungarian American representatives of his interest and willingness to cooperate in achieving common objectives. Participants asked Ambassador Guest to speak out against the growing anti-Hungarian rhetoric by Romanian government officials.

Several Hungarian American Coalition leaders also had an informal opportunity to meet with Nancy G. Brinker, US Ambassador to Hungary. The discussion centered on topics ranging from the good relations between the United States and Hungary as allies, to NATO-related questions; trade issues; the Ambassador’s statement about anti-Semitism; the significance of the status law to the Hungarians communities in states neighboring Hungary; and the upcoming national elections.

The Hungarian American Coalition is a nationwide non-profit organization that promotes public understanding and awareness of Hungarian American issues. One of its goals is to provide U.S. government officials with objective and timely information on topics of interest to the Hungarian American community.

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