Hungarian American Coalition Meets with Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Samuel R. Berger

Sixteen Hungarian American leaders met with Samuel R. Berger, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs on Friday, September 28, 1996. Marshall Adair, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Central Europe, Daniel Fried, Senior Director for East Central Europe at the National Security Council, James Holmes, Coordinator for Eastern European Assistance, and Marilyn DiGiacobbe, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison also attended the one and a half hour meeting.

Hungarian American representatives included: Mrs. Kathleen Avvakumovits; Mrs. Anne C. Bader; Rt. Rev. Imre Bertalan, Chairman of the Board; Mr. Laszlo Bojtos; Mr. Frank Dobos; Mr. George Dozsa; Mr. Robert Gabor; Mr. Laszlo Hamos; Mr. Frank Kapitan; Frank Koszorus, Jr. Esq.; Mr. Peter J. Kurz; Mrs. Edith K. Lauer; Prof. Andrew Ludanyi; Dr. Daniel F. McDonald; Eugene Megyesy, Jr, Esq.; and Mr. Julius Varallyay.

In his opening remarks Mr. Berger stressed the Administration’s commitment to NATO expansion and the positive impact the Coalition’s views have had on the evolution of this policy. Edith Lauer, President of the Coalition, noted the deep commitment of the Hungarian American community to democracy and stability in Central and East Europe. She expressed the Coalition’s view that Hungary should be included in NATO in the first tier. Ms. Lauer urged Administration officials to articulate an even-handed policy to serve U.S. geopolitical interests in the region.

Frank Koszorus, Jr, then addressed the confluence of events which have left the impression that the Administration’s policies have tilted against the Hungarian minorities, beginning with the State Department spokesman’s overreaction to the Hungarian Summit of July 5, 1996, particularly as it related to the democratically asserted requests of the Hungarian minorities to enjoy cultural autonomy and local self-government.

Eugene Megyesy, Jr, reflected on the reported pressure from the Administration on Hungary to accede to the dilution of the Council of Europe’s Recommendation 1201 and called upon the Administration to monitor Romania’s implementation of the provisions of the Basic Treaty.

Anne Bader urged the targeting of U.S. assistance to minorities in order to strengthen the role of minority institutions in democracy-building in the region.

Andrew Ludanyi focused on the recent Washington Post op-ed article by Ambassadors Blinken and Moses that contains egregious historical inaccuracies and overstates the significance of the Basic Treaty.

Laszlo Hamos then objected to the meeting of U.S. government officials with the ultranationalist, virulently anti-Hungarian, anti-Semitic Mayor of Cluj (Kolozsvar), Gheorghe Funar. Mr. Hamos recommended that the Administration propose legislation for monitoring the provisions of the Basic Treaty.

In responding to the points raised by the Coalition representatives, Mr. Berger acknowledged Hungary’s progress in fulfilling the requirements for consideration for NATO membership. Furthermore he agreed with the Coalition’s position that each country seeking NATO membership should be evaluated on its own merits.

Regarding the Hungarian minorities, Mr. Berger and Mr. Fried stated that the U.S. has assumed the obligation to press Romania and Slovakia to fully comply with the Basic Treaties. They added that the treatment of minorities in Central Europe, including Slovakia and Romania, remains a priority issue that this Administration will continue to pursue.

On the question of targeting U.S. assistance programs to minorities and their institutions, Mr. Holmes suggested that the Coalition submit specific proposals for his consideration.

The Coalition representatives made several concrete proposals concerning how the Administration might clarify its position relative to the Hungarian minorities, and to dispel the widely held perception that U.S. policy has tilted away from promoting human and minority rights in Central Europe. These proposals included:

An active monitoring mechanism for the implementation of bilateral treaties, including but not limited to fact-finding missions and publicly available reports;

Implementation of U.S. assistance programs targeting minority institutions and minorities;

Clarification of U.S. policy on minority rights, including the public recognition that Council of Europe Resolution 1201 and Western European practices are acceptable models for addressing Central and East European minority issues;

Reaffirmation of Washington’s traditional policy of supporting self-determination, or at least not opposing democratically asserted requests for cultural autonomy and local self-government;

Unequivocal U.S. support for NATO’s expansion, including the establishment of a definite time table, concrete criteria for acceptance, and evaluation of each country on its own merits;

Regular consultations between U.S. Embassy in Budapest (and Bucharest) with leadership of opposition and minorities to avoid misunderstandings of important issues in the future; and

Copies of President Clinton’s recent letters to Prime Minister Horn and Iliescu.

Participants of the meeting agreed to continuing the dialogue regarding matters of interest to the Hungarian American community.

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