Hungarian American Coalition Meets with Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott

(Washington, DC). Eleven Hungarian American leaders met in Cleveland on July 25, 1998, with US Ambassador to Romania, James Rosapepe, during his recent US visit. The two-hour-long discussion was organized by Edith Lauer, President, Hungarian American Coalition, and included Coalition Board Members as well as Hungarian community leaders from Cleveland, Detroit and Toledo. Among the participants were László Böjtös, Frank Dobos, Rev. István Géczy, Rev. Szabolcs Kálmán, Dr. Péter Kovalszki, Jay Moldoványi, Gabriella Nádas, George Pogan, Krisztina Ujvági and Péter Ujvági.

Continuing the dialogue begun in January, 1998, Ambassador Rosapepe provided an overview of the political and economic situation in Romania. He also addressed several unresolved issues which affect the minority rights and ethnic identity of the 2 million-strong historic Hungarian community.

A lively discussion followed in which participants posed questions, and provided concrete information gained from personal experience in Romania. Péter Ujvági asked that the US Embassy staff include Hungarian-speakers both in Bucharest and Cluj. Jay Moldoványi suggested that the Ambassador regularly speak with members of the Hungarian media in Romania. Gabriella Nádas stressed the importance of having the Ambassador speak out, when appropriate, on issues such as restitution of church property and native-language education.

Rev. István Géczy offered to arrange a meeting between Amb. Rosapepe and the Hungarian Bishops’ Council in Romania, so they could directly relate their concerns and recommendations to him. Dr. Kovalszki called the Ambassador’s attention to the alarming trend by the Romanian military to establish military bases in the overwhelmingly Hungarian-populated counties of Covasna and Harghita.

Edith Lauer expressed the Hungarian-American community’s fear, that with reduced expectation of NATO membership, the Romanian government’s previously articulated commitment to reforms seems to be lagging. “Although circumstances now exist for fulfilling the aspirations of Romania’s Hungarian minority, the major issues remain unresolved: restitution of confiscated church property, legislation to guarantee native-language education, and establishment of a Hungarian university. A failure to move ahead on these issues will raise serious doubts regarding the Romanian government’s commitment to bring about democratic reform.”

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