Washington, DC – On October 10, the Hungarian American Coalition and George Herbert Walker III, former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, co-hosted a festive dinner at the Hay-Adams Hotel to welcome Hungarian Ambassador Ferenc Somogyi and his wife, Andrea, to Washington, D.C. The evening provided an opportunity for Washington decision-makers and friends of the Hungarian American Coalition to discuss U.S.-Hungarian bilateral relations with the newly appointed Hungarian Ambassador.
Ambassador Somogyi who had previously served as Foreign Minister and State Secretary in the Hungarian Foreign Ministry, was acquainted with many of those present from his years of work on NATO expansion. „I have had the privilege of your advice and help in years past in assisting Hungary’s transition into a democratic country… and I ask for your help and wise advice in the future.”
Coalition President Max Teleki welcomed the guests and expressed his hope that the Hungarian American Coalition will continue to cooperate with the Ambassador in advancing issues of interest to Hungary and the Hungarian-American community.
In welcoming Ambassador Somogyi, Ambassador Walker remarked that „Hungary could not have appointed a better-qualified Ambassador to the United States.” Under Secretary of State Paula J. Dobriansky in a brief statement expressed her confidence in the recently established International Center for Democratic Transition (ICDT) in Budapest.
Other guests included Mrs. Herbert (Carol) Walker; Kurt Volker, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe; Karen Volker, Policy Planning, U.S. Department of State; Adam Sterling, Director of Central and Eastern European Affairs of the National Security Council; Lee Edwards, President of the Victims of Communism Foundation; Hon. Mary Mochary; Zsolt Harsanyi, Chairman of the American Hungarian Foundation (AHF); and Edith and John Lauer of the Hungarian American Coalition.
Earlier in the day, Hon. Nancy G. Brinker (a former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary) was sworn in as White House Chief of Protocol by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice before an audience of family, friends and official dignitaries. The Hungarian American Coalition was represented by Edith Lauer, Chairman Emerita, Maximilian Teleki, President, and Emőke Korzenszky, HAC Congressional intern.
On October 11, 25 members of the Hungarian American community were present at a meeting hosted by Ambassador Somogyi at the Hungarian Embassy. After welcoming the participants, Ambassador Somogyi outlined the major issues he plans to address in the coming months. Among these are the new Consulate General in Chicago; the commemoration of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution to be held on October 23; a meeting for Honorary Consuls of Hungary in December; continued work on the visa waiver issue; the Hungarian Ministry of Culture’s „2009 Year of Hungarian Culture” in the United States; and a 10th anniversary commemoration of NATO’s expansion, also planned for 2009.
A lengthy question and answer period followed, in which many participants expressed interest and offered their help for the Year of Hungarian Culture. Other questions focused on the visa waiver issue, the Hungarian government’s stand on autonomy for Hungarian communities outside Hungary; the status of a sociological survey of the Hungarian American community that has been sidelined; and the longstanding issue of how Hungarians in the Western countries might best be represented in Hungarian institutions.
Participants thanked the Ambassador for hosting this first get-together, and expressed their hope other meetings would follow. Hungarian American Coalition Board Members present included Max Teleki, Edith Lauer, Laszlo Bojtos, Charles Vamossy, Laszlo Hamos, Imre Lendvai-Lintner, and Dr. August Molnar.