News | Press Releases 1997

Member of the Hungarian American Coalition Travels to Central Europe with Joint Department of Defense-Department of State NATO Fact Finding Mission

“It is fitting that you, strong supporters of the American effort to recast a unified, democratic Europe, will assess the progress the Poles, Czechs, and Hungarians have made to join the Alliance [NATO],” noted Jeremy Rosner, Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State for NATO Enlargement Ratification, to members of a delegation to Europe.  Veteran, military, ethnic American and religious leaders participated in the fact finding mission sponsored by the Department of Defense and Department of State.  Frank Koszorus, Jr. of the Hungarian American Coalition was invited to be part of the delegation.

The trip began with an all-day briefing at NATO headquarters in Brussels.  The speakers included: Donald J. McConnell, Deputy Assistant Secretary General, Political Affairs; Douglas M. McElhaney, Chargé, U.S. Mission; Lt. Gen. Michael J. Byron, U.S. Representative to the NATO Military Committee; Gen. Klaus Naumann, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee; representatives from Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic; and Bg. Gen. Gheorghe Rotaru, Senior Military Liaison from Romania.  A courtesy call was made by Sergio Balanzino, Deputy Secretary General of NATO.

The delegation then traveled to the Kecskemét Air Base in Hungary to visit the MIG-29 squadron.  Following a briefing and demonstration, the group went to Budapest where it made office calls on U.S. Ambassador Donald Blinken, Brig. Gen. István Szalai, General Director, Operations Directorate of the Hungarian Home Defense Forces, and Mátyás Eörsi, Political Secretary of the Foreign Ministry.  A dinner hosted by Gen. Lajos Fodor capped an informative and successful trip to Hungary.

Headquarters of the U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, was the next stop for the delegation.  The delegation received an excellent briefing by Rear Admiral William Cross and his staff on U.S. EUCOM’s role and perspective on Partnership for Peace and NATO enlargement.

The Czech Republic was the next stop where the delegation was briefed by senior military officers and observed target practice in counterattack/battalion formation, air strikes, anti-aircraft demonstration and mechanized unit live fire.  A reception followed which included the Minister of Defense and senior military officers.

The final destination was Poland where the delegation first received a briefing by Ambassador Nicholas A. Rey and John Cloud, Deputy Chief of Missions.  General staff officials then briefed the delegation, distributed an attractive brochure and presented a video of the Polish Armed Forces.  Thereafter, the group observed unit training at the 1st Armored Brigade site in Wesola, and capped the trip with a reception hosted by Ambassador Rey.

“Our observations and extensive conversations with military officers and government officials in Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic demonstrated their commitment to join NATO and contribute to the security of Europe,” said Mr. Koszorus.  “The ability of the recently promoted Hungarian officers to communicate in the English language, their attitude and desire to work with NATO to preserve common values served as further evidence of Hungary’s qualification to be part of the Alliance,” he concluded.

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