The fourth meeting of the Hungarian Standing Conference (MAERT) was held in Budapest on October 25-26, 2001.
The Standing Conference meets annually to address issues of common interest to the 15 million Hungarians worldwide. Hungarian minorities from Romania, Slovakia, Carpatho-Ukraine, Slovenia, Croatia and the former Yugoslavia were represented by their elected political leaders. Hungary’s six parliamentary parties also participated. Two members of the Hungarian American Coalition were present: Edith Lauer, Chairman, and Laszlo Hamos, President of HHRF and Advisor to Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
The focus of the 2001 Conference was the implementation of Hungary’s Status Law, which grants certain benefits to ethnic Hungarians who live in the surrounding countries. The Status Law was passed with the support of 93 percent of the Hungarian Parliament and will go into effect on January 1, 2002.
In its Closing Statement, the Standing Conference hailed the Status Law as a potentially effective mechanism for improving regional security and stability in East Central Europe, and for preserving and protecting Hungarian national identity among minority communities. The Closing Statement sets out criteria for determining who is eligible for Status Law benefits, and calls for continued dialogue and cooperation with local authorities in defining effective implementing rules and regulations. The Closing Statement notes with satisfaction an October 20 report by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, which recognizes that Hungary’s Status Law conforms to European legal standards, and recognizes the positive role of benefits and support given by a state to its “kin-minorities” in other countries.
The Closing Statement also calls on Hungarians in the West to encourage international acceptance of the Status Law.
With regard to citizens of Western countries who are of Hungarian extraction (whether from Hungary or the surrounding countries), the Closing Statement recommended that Hungarian government authorities examine and simplify the now lengthy process required for acquiring Hungarian citizenship.
The Closing Statement also expressed its shock at the September 11 terror attacks on the United States, condemning the “horrifying crime” against human values and called for the elimination of all forms of terrorism.
The Hungarian American Coalition is a nationwide non-profit organization that promotes public understanding and awareness of Hungarian American issues.