(Washington, DC). Hungarian Americans urged President Constantinescu of Romania to ensure that the rights of the Hungarian minority are fully respected during a reception held on July 16, 1998 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. George Dozsa, Frank Koszorus, Jr., Andor Nas, Beata Kovacs Nas, and Janos Szekeres raised several concrete measures that the Romanian government needs to initiate or implement to satisfy certain minimum conditions that would enable the Hungarian minority to preserve their unique cultural characteristics and identity. These relate Hungarian language instruction, the reestablishment of an independent Hungarian university that was closed under the communists, the return of real properties that were confiscated by the communists, and the strengthening of local self-government. The Hungarian American attendees also raised similar issues with United States Ambassador James Rosapepe and Peter Eckstein-Kovacs, an ethnic Hungarian Member of Parliament of Romania accompanying President Constantinescu.
President Constantinescu listened and generally reacted positively to the comments. In his address, he acknowledged the contribution of national minority NGO’s to the democratization process in Romania. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT) also spoke at the reception. They both praised President Constantinescu.
Hungarian Human Rights Foundation president and Hungarian American Coalition board member Laszlo Hamos arranged the meeting. “We were disappointed that President Constantinescu declined to accept our invitation to address a larger gathering of Hungarian Americans at the Kossuth House,” he said.
“It was important to acknowledge President Constantinescu’s leadership role in reforming Romania,” commented Mr. Koszorus. “It was equally important to stress that much remains to be done before that countryi’s 2 million strong Hungarian minority can be said to enjoy fully the fruits of democracy for which it has struggled so long. If Romania intends to integrate with Western institutions, such as NATO, it must move definitively on this front,” he added.