WASHINGTON, DC – On May 14, leadership of the Hungarian American Coalition (Coalition) met with Ms. Heather A. Conley, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs. The meeting was attended by Mrs. Edith K. Lauer, Chairman of the Board of the Coalition, Mr. Laszlo Hamos, President of the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation (HHRF), Ms. Emese Latkoczy, Director of HHRF and Mr. Eugene Young, Hungary Desk Officer. The meeting was held at the request of the Coalition to express concern regarding NATO membership for Romania and Slovakia and to exchange views on matters of interest to the Hungarian American community.
Mrs. Lauer stressed that the U.S. and Europe should care about what kind of countries become members of NATO. She provided Ms. Conley a copy of the Coalition’s “Resolution on NATO Expansion“, which was adopted unanimously by the Board of Directors on December 8, 2001. (See attached text of the resolution). The representatives of the Coalition also expressed their concern that because of expediency and geopolitical considerations in the wake of the tragic events of last year’s terrorist attacks, U.S. policy risks downplaying issues of great concern to Hungarian-Americans in the area of minority rights, thereby lowering the standards of NATO membership. Pressing issues — such as the restitution of church and communal property in Romania, failed public administration reform and higher education opportunities for Hungarians in Slovakia, and the question of Vojvodina’s autonomy — are being sidelined.
Mr. Hamos provided Ms. Conley with two documents entitled “Progress Checklist on Human Rights Issues Affecting the Hungarian Minority in Romania Raised with Prime Minister Adrian Nastase in Bucharest on April 19, 2002” and “Violation of the Sanctity of Private Property: Romania’s Ongoing Failure to Return Church and Communal Properties Illegally Confiscated Under Communism”. Mr. Hamos expressed his view that the Administration has not been consistent or clear enough in asking for performance rather than promises in rectifying human rights abuses against ethnic Hungarians.
Ms. Conley commented that the question of minority rights has been raised in private, not in public, and that there would be an opportunity to provide updated information for the “President’s Report” on a country-by-country basis.
The Hungarian American Coalition is a nationwide non-profit organization that promotes public understanding and awareness of Hungarian American issues.