Washington, DC – On November 9, 2017, the 7th annual Diaspora Council meeting was held at the Hungarian Castle Gardens in Budapest. More than 90 leaders and representatives of organizations worldwide participated, including 25 Hungarian American attendees, 14 of which are Hungarian American Coalition members.
During a day of meetings and presentations Diaspora representatives heard speeches from various leaders of the Hungarian government.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told representatives about geopolitical and European processes, European neighborhood policy, and he also pointed out Hungary’s recent diplomatic and economic achievements. He thanked the Diaspora for its dedication by saying that “Indeed, you, the Hungarians living in Diaspora, are always a source of pride for us in Hungary. You are both a source of national pride and a reserve of strength in that pride. Every Hungarian knows that life in this country is hard, but it must be even harder to hold one’s own and to gain recognition and esteem abroad and among foreigners. In recent decades this is something that millions of Hungarians have achieved. Millions of Hungarians living in Diaspora have managed to gain recognition and to fight their way to honor and prestige. We are aware of the efforts this demands and the consequent respect it deserves.” The full text of Prime Minister Orbán’s speech is available here.
Deputy Prime Minister for Hungarian Communities Abroad, Zsolt Semjén announced that thanks to the Hungarian government’s philosophy, that all Hungarian individuals and communities – whatever state jurisdiction they are subject to – are part of a united Hungarian nation, a total of more than 1 million people have in some way applied for the granting or recognition of Hungarian citizenship: so far 870,000 of them have taken the oath of allegiance in the Carpathian Basin and further 132,000 individuals living in Diaspora also confirmed or received Hungarian citizenship either through the traditional naturalization process or by establishment of their pre-existing entitlement to Hungarian citizenship. Mr. Semjén added that they wish to achieve the one millionth person to regain Hungarian citizenship before the end of this year.
Mr. Semjén told the participants that the Kőrösi Csoma Sándor Internship Program (KCSP) has been very successful and will continue with 115 interns next year and added that the Mikes Kelemen Program, which focuses on collecting valuable Hungarian books and artifacts and returning them to Hungary will also go on with the help of 15 staff members. Mr. Semjén also announced that there will be a separate call for applications to foster Hungarian education by supporting Hungarian Sunday schools as well as scholarships for pastors, as the Church is one of the biggest retaining forces of Hungarian identity in the Diaspora.
In his presentation, Mr. Árpád János Potápi, State Secretary for Nation Policy highlighted the importance of continuing ReConnect Hungary Hungarian birthright program, which provides the opportunity of a cultural immersion trip to Hungary for Hungarian-North American young adults between the ages of 18 and 28 who want to strengthen their personal Hungarian identity through connection to the country, culture and heritage.
Following a press conference by Mr. Semjén and Mr. Potápi and a lunch break, there were other presentations by Csaba Balogh, State Secretary for Public Administration, and Pál András, Ministerial Commissioner responsible for conducting elections abroad.
The Minority SafePack European citizens’ initiative of the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) was also presented at the Diaspora Council meeting by Lóránt Vincze, President of FUEN, who asked participants to sign the petition and spread the word to help provide a better future for the national minorities and language communities of Europe.
After the presentations, the Diaspora Council divided into the various regional areas for further discussions. In the U.S. section László Hámos was re-elected to a two-year term as the President of the American Diaspora Council. Coalition President Andrea Lauer Rice and Vice President, Csilla Grauzer will be working with him closely in his coming term.
After voting unanimously to accept the Closing Statement, representatives of the Diaspora Council attended a reception in the Parliamentary Delegation Room hosted by László Kövér, Speaker of the National Assembly of Hungary.
“The Diaspora Council provides an annual opportunity for leaders of Hungarian diaspora communities across the world to connect with one another and with Hungary. We develop important partnerships, hear from Hungarian leaders about new initiatives, and come away with new ideas and energy to continue the important work of our communities. I am indeed proud to be part of this global team of Hungarian diaspora leaders and look forward to continue to work with my colleagues in the years to come” said Andrea Lauer Rice, President of the Coalition.
The day before the Diaspora Council, representatives were invited to a cultural day at the Gödőllői Lovas Park, where among others, Coalition Internship Program (CIP) alumnus Péter Heltai gave a presentation on the new Hungary Helps initiative who enthusiastically thanked the Coalition for the CIP opportunity and experience, which he also credited for his success.
Ágnes Csiffary representing Eva Beluska, President, Metroplex Magyar Cultural Circle, Dallas
András Demeter, President, Chicago Hungarian Cultural Circle
Csilla Grauzer, President, Minnesota Hungarians, Inc.
László Hámos, President, Hungarian Human Rights Foundation, New York
Erika Bokor, representing Hajnal Minger, President, Hungarian Communion of Friends – Magyar Baráti Közösség
Andrea Lauer Rice, President, Hungarian American Coalition, Washington DC
Imre Lendvai Lintner, President, Hungarian Scout Association in Exteris
James P. Nielssen, President, American Hungarian Educators Association
Miklós Perehazy, President, United Magyar House, Los Angeles, CA
Dr. Balázs Somogyi, President, without representation, the Hungarian Cultural Society of Connecticut
Éva Szabó, President, Cleveland Hungarian Heritage Society
Andrea Lauer Rice, President, represented by Anne Michelle Lynch, The Atlanta Hungarian Meetup Group
György Krajcsik, President, Kossuth Club, Sarasota, FL
Ildikó Juhász, President, represented by Emese Varga, Hungarian Society of Massachusetts
István J. Varga, President, without representation, the William Penn Association
Ákos L. Nagy, President, represented by Frank Koszorus, Jr., American Hungarian Federation
Eszter Székely, Director, represented by Valéria Bíró, Arany János Hungarian School
Alice Balla, President, represented by Éva Nádori, Hungarian Club of Colorado
Lajos Tóth, President, represented by Sarolta Tulipán, Hungarian Community Church of Georgia
Ildikó Nagy, President, Hungarian House, New York
Béla Dobák, President, without representation, Petőfi Cultural Association
Imre Juhász, President, represented by Denisa Varga-Bottova, Committee of Hungarian Churches and Associations in New Brunswick
Gábor Varjú, President, represented by Eszter Gagnon, Triangle Hungarian Club, North Carolina
Ferenc Varga, Bishop, Hungarian Reformed Church, New Jersey
Csaba Krasznai, Bishop, Calvin Synod