Highlights of the Hungarian American Coalition's Advocacy Efforts for NATO Expansion: 1994-1999

January 5-6, 1994
Photo: Edith K. Lauer, Chair Emerita; President Bill Clinton
First Steps Toward the Expansion of NATO

Milwaukee, WI – President Clinton invited the leaders of Central and East Europe’s American ethnic communities to meet in Milwaukee, WI. Vice President Gore delivered President Clinton’s speech on the U.S. initiative, Partnership for Peace, the first step toward the eastern expansion of NATO eventually leading to membership for the Visegrád countries. Several leaders of the Hungarian American Coalition attended, anticipating discussions on NATO expansion. When the administration surprised participants by proposing Partnership for Peace as a preliminary step, the Polish American Congress and HAC expressed their disappointment about postponing NATO membership and accommodating Russian concerns.

March 2, 1994
Photo: President Clinton; HAC representatives
Meeting at The White House

The Clinton Administration continued the dialogue on the positive role of Partnership for Peace with 20 leaders of Central and East European ethnic community, including HAC representatives.  


Historic Moment: Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, a Russia specialist aiming to slow NATO expansion, addressed ethnic leaders, expressing optimism about the future of a reformed Russia. He questioned whether Russia would pose a threat to its former satellites, prompting strong disagreement from many attendees. Jan Nowak, Director of the Polish American Congress, along with several other leaders, challenged Talbott's stance, asking why they were invited if their experience with communism was deemed irrelevant. Nowak posed the question, what would happen if we are right about Russia and you are wrong? 

March 30
NATO Membership Requirements Established

NATO established requirements to be considered for membership, including: democratic governance, civilian control of military and peaceful relations with neighbors.

December 2, 1994
White House Briefing

More than 70 HAC members attended the White House Briefing organized by Alexis Herman, Director, and Marilyn DiGiacobbe, Assistant Director of the Office of Public Liaison. The Briefing was held in the Indian Treaty Room.  

January 12,1995
Photo: Vice President Al Gore; HAC representatives
Meeting with Key Administration Officials

A preparatory meeting took place with key administration officials. Alexis Herman, Director, Office of Public Liaison, served as moderator. Those who addressed questions from the ethnic organization leaders include Ron Brown, Secretary of Commerce; Richard  Holbrooke, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs; Daniel Fried, Director of Central and Eastern European Affairs, National Security Council; Nicholas Burns, Senior Director for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasian Affairs; Donald Blinken, U.S. Ambassador to Hungary; and Alfred Moses, U.S. Ambassador to Romania. 

January 13,1995
Photo: Peter Ujvági, Ohio; President Bill Clinton
White House Conference for Investment and Trade in Central and Eastern Europe

Seven Hungarian American Coalition representatives were among 29 Central and East European ethnic community leaders invited to meet with President Bill Clinton in Cleveland and the White House Conference for Investment and Trade in Central and Eastern Europe. Edith Lauer, at the time president of the Coalition, had the opportunity to speak to the President and personally raise issues of of concern to their community. 

February 16,1995
Russian "veto" removed

The U.S. House of Representatives removed the Russian “veto” in the amendment of NATO enlargement, to H.R. 7. 

September 20, 1995
Press Conference at The United States Capitol

“Coalition Urges Rapid Expansion of NATO” HAC participated in a CEEC press conference at the U.S. Capitol organized to increase attention on NATO expansion.

December 6, 1995
Taszár Support Base assisted U.S. Military Operations in Bosnia

A logistical base opened in Taszár, Hungary, supporting U.S. military operations in Bosnia, making it NATO’s first military base in a former Warsaw Pact country.

January 13, 1996
President Clinton's visit to Hungary

President Clinton visited Taszár military base in Hungary, recognizing Hungary’s contribution to the Bosnia peace mission by serving as “home to the largest American military operation in Europe since World War II.” 

February 12, 1996
Photo: President Bill Clinton; Edith K. Lauer, Chair Emerita
HAC Discussed Security Interests of the United States

HAC leaders joined the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) – made up of 18 national grassroots organizations representing over 22 million Americans of Central and East European heritage – to meet President Clinton to discuss U.S. national security interests. The group focused on the issue of NATO’s acceptance of new members and the importance of well targeted and foreign assistance in advancing U.S. interests.

May 21, 1996
Meeting with Senator Bob Dole

Representatives of CEEC, including HAC leaders, met with Senator Bob Dole to discuss NATO expansion, foreign assistance to Central and Eastern Europe and related issues. Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), and senior staffers also attended the breakfast meeting in the LBJ Room in the Capitol. 

June 6, 1996
HAC Representatives Met with U.S. Department of State Officials

HAC Representatives met with James Holmes, Coordinator for Eastern European Assistance at the State Department, for a conference. Coalition representatives included Anne Bader, Frank Koszorús, Jr., Edith K. Lauer, George Pogan, and Zsolt Szekeres. Also in attendance were David L. Cowles, Office of European Country Affairs, Bureau for Europe and New Independent States, and Michael Hurley, Office of the Coordinator for East European Assistant. The Coalition urged the State Department officials to better utilize the expertise, knowledge and contacts of groups such as the Coalition in delivering foreign assistance programs. 

June 21, 1996
Coalition Testifies on NATO Expansion

The Committee on International Relations of the U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing on H.R. 3564, the NATO Enlargement Facilitation Act of 1996. Frank Koszorús, Jr, of the Hungarian American Coalition, testified on behalf of the CEEC in favor of the NATO expansion bill. Members of the Committee who favorably commented on the NATO Act included Douglas K. Bereuter (R-NE); Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL); Tom Lantos (D-CA); James A. Leach (R-IA); and Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ). Members who expressed misgivings or opposed the NATO Act included Lee H. Hamilton (D-IN); Harry A. Johnston (D-FL); and James P. Moran (D-VA). 

July 10, 1996
International Relations Committee Approved the NATO Enlargement Facilitation Act

A bill to initiate NATO expansion cleared a major legislative hurdle when the House International Relations Committee overwhelmingly approved H.R. 3564, the NATO Enlargement Facilitation Act of 1996. CEEC and HAC played a major role in providing input for the legislation. The bill stated that Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic should be eligible for additional assistance of sixty million dollars. 

September 5, 1996
Photo: Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott
Meeting with Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott

As a follow-up to the April meeting, representatives of the CEEC met with Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Central Europe Marshall Adair, Director of NIS Affairs John Herbst and other State Department officials also attended the meeting. The CEEC asked Frank Koszorús, Jr., representing the Hungarian American Coalition, to coordinate their presentation and questions to the State Department officials. Several issues were discussed during the meeting, including NATO expansion and the Russian elections, the NATO Expansion Facilitation Act, security issues relating to the Baltics, and the need to increase foreign assistance to the region and to slow down the “graduation” of countries from democracy strengthening programs.

September 28, 1996
Photo: President Clinton, Deputy Assistant Samuel R. Berger
Meeting with Samuel R. Berger, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Representatives of CEEC and 16 HAC members met with Samuel R. Berger, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs to discuss the Clinton Administration’s position on NATO expansion and its vision relating to the overall security for the region. Daniel Fried, Senior Director for East Central Europe at the National Security Council also attended meeting at the White House. HAC representatives included: Kathleen Avvakumovits, Anne Bader, Rev Imre Bertalan, László Böjtös, Frank Dobos, György Dózsa, Róbert Gábor, László Hámos, Frank Kapitan, Frank Koszorús, Jr., Péter Kurz, Edith K. Lauer, András Ludányi, Daniel McDonald, Eugene Megyesy and Julius Várallyay.

October 22, 1996
President Clinton's Statement

Detroit, Michigan – President Clinton stated – for the first time – that the first new members admitted to NATO from among the countries on Central and Eastern Europe, should be completed no later than 1999, the 50th anniversary of NATO. 

February, 1997
Preparation of Meeting Series in Hungary

Budapest, Hungary - HAC began to organize a series of 3 conferences in Hungary entitled: “Hungary in an Expanded NATO: Benefits and Responsibilities - an Open Discussion with the Hungarian People.” When public funds that had been pledged were suddenly withdrawn, HAC was able to raise funds from The German Marshall Fund, the Ronald Lauder Foundation, Malév Hungarian Airlines, the U.S. Mission in Budapest, and the Hungarian Atlantic Forum.

February 18, 1997
NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting

Brussels, Belgium – At a meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stated that membership negotiations of the first group of Central and East European states would need to be completed by December 1997. This would allow enough time to sign protocols of accession and have the Parliaments of NATO countries ratify them by 1999.


April 30, 1997
Security and Stability in Central and Eastern Europe: A Vital U.S. Interest

Coalition members participated in a conference entitled, “Security and Stability in Central and Eastern Europe: A Vital U.S. Interest,” sponsored by CEEC. In addition to Senator McConnell, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Operations Subcommittee, other conference participants included Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ). Among the more than 150 attendees were U.S. government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, the media, and CEEC representatives, including HAC members: Edith K. Lauer, Anne C. Bader and Kláry Hefty. 

May 27, 1997
NATO Summit in Paris

Paris, France - NATO and Russia signed the Founding Act of Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security at the NATO Summit in Paris. The NATO-Russia Founding Act defined areas of cooperation between Russia and NATO. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright assured the Central Europeans that Russia would have a “voice but not a veto”, aligning with HAC’s advocacy efforts. 

June 12, 1997
President Clinton's Announcement on NATO Enlargement

President Clinton announced that the United States would favor issuing invitations for NATO membership to three countries: Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.


The White House initiated a conference call with representatives of CEEC, including HAC, to brief them NATO enlargement. Mr. Daniel Fried, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director, National Security Council; Jeremy D. Rosner, Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State for NATO Enlargement Ratification; and Marilyn DiGiacobbe, Special Assistant to the President for Public Liaison, participated in the telephone conference. 

July 8, 1997
Photo: NATO Leaders
NATO Summit in Madrid

Madrid, Spain – President Clinton and other NATO leaders gathered for a NATO Summit in Madrid, Spain, and extended invitations to Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to join NATO. The proposal for extending invitations to Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic required all 16 NATO members to ratify the entry of new members, including a two-thirds vote in the U.S. Senate. 

July 30, 1997
Breakfast at The White House

The White House sponsored a breakfast to bid farewell to Daniel Fried and Marilyn DiGiacobbe and welcome Steven Flanagan and Christine Stanek. Ethnic and community leaders were invited to the event held in the White House dining room. HAC was represented by Edith K. Lauer, Anne C. Bader and Frank Koszorús, Jr. 

October 18-26, 1997
Photo: Frank Koszorús, Jr.
Joint Department of Defense and Department of State NATO Fact Finding Mission

The Coalition, represented by Frank Koszorús, Jr., participated in a Joint Department of Defense and Department of State NATO Fact Finding Mission. The trip included visits to NATO headquarters in Brussels, the EU.S. European Command (USEUCOM) headquarters in Stuttgart and Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic. 

November 5, 1997
Testimony Before the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations

On behalf of the Coalition, Frank Koszorús, Jr., testified before the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations. He expressed the Coalition’s “unequivocal” support for the enlargement of the Alliance to include Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. They welcome NATO membership because “…they recall how their quest for independence was brutally crushed by Soviet tanks in 1956 because Hungary was on the wrong side of Stalin’s dividing line.”

November 6, 1997
Photo: NATO Panel Discussion
First NATO Conference at the Hungarian Parliament

Budapest, Hungary – “Hungary in an Expanded NATO: Benefits and Responsibilities - an Open Discussion with the Hungarian People.” President Árpád Göncz opened the first conference at the Hungarian Parliament. Hungarian political parties were invited to make statements. The majority declared their support for NATO membership, with the notable exception of the Socialist Party.  

November 8, 1997
Nicholas B. Kehoe Deputy Chairman of NATO Military Committee
NATO Conference in Debrecen

Debrecen, Hungary – A full-day conference was held at the historic Reformed College in Debrecen. Mayor József Hevessy held a reception at City Hall to formally open the conference. U.S. Ambassador Donald Blinken reviewed steps Hungary had already taken to begin to fulfill NATO membership requirements. 

November 10, 1997
Photo: NATO Panel Discussion
NATO Conference in Lillafüred

Miskolc (Lillafüred), Hungary – At the third conference, an overview of Western goals and requirements for new NATO members was provided by Lt. Gen. Nicholas B. Kehoe and Major Gen. István Szalay. US Air Force Defense Attache, Col. John Martinson delivered his speech in flawless Hungarian. Mayor Tamás Kóbold formally opened the conference with a reception at City Hall. 

November 16, 1997
Hungarian Referendum

Across Hungary, 50% of the population voted, with 85% supporting NATO membership for Hungary. It was a significant result, as American opponents of NATO expansion would have been able to use defeat in Hungary as an effective argument in the U.S. Senate. 

December 16, 1997
Brussels, Belgium – NATO’s Foreign Ministers signed the Accession Protocols for Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
February 11, 1998
Ceremony in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department

President Clinton transmitted the protocols of accession to the Senate, along with the report prepared by Secretary Albright. HAC representatives Edith K. Lauer, Rev Bertalan and Frank Koszorús, Jr. attended the ceremony in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department. 

March 3, 1998
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee votes 16-2 in favor of NATO enlargement.
March 20, 1998
Photo: HAC Representatives at The White House Briefing
The White House Ceremony

“Forging a new NATO in the 21st century will help fulfill the commitment and the struggle that many of you in this room engaged in over the last 50 years,” said President Clinton at a White House ceremony during which he called on the Senate to promptly ratify NATO expansion. The Hungarian American Coalition attended the Ceremony.

April 30, 1998
The U.S. Senate ratified the Treaty on NATO Accession for the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland by a vote of 80:19.  
May 22, 1998
Photo by Anne C. Bader
Rose Garden Ceremony

The White House – Hungarian American Coalition Attends Rose Garden Ceremony on May 22 with President Clinton, granting U.S. approval for admitting Hungary to NATO. He declared, “We come to this day, thanks to many acts of courage…the sacrifices by those who raised freedom’s banner in Budapest in 1956.” HAC representatives included: László Hámos, Anne C. Bader, Frank Koszorús, Jr. and Frank Kapitan.

December 18, 1998
Coalition Declaration

The Coalition issued a Declaration unanimously adopted by its Executive Committee relating to the unexpected opposition by the political parties that made up the previous government over the proposed constitutional amendments that would allow Hungary to integrate fully into NATO. 

February 10, 1999
Budapest, Hungary – Hungarian President Árpád Göncz Ratifies NATO Membership.
March 12, 1999
Historic Signing Ceremony of the Formal Accession to NATO

Independence, Missouri – Coalition leaders attended the historic signing ceremony, marking the formal accession to NATO of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. The ceremony took place at the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, a historic site where in 1949 President Truman announced the initial creation of NATO. The ceremony was hosted by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and attended by the Foreign Ministers of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Hungarian attendees included: János Martonyi, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Coalition representatives, László Hámos, Peter Ujvági, Anne C. Bader and Eugene Megyesy. In reference to Hungary, Secretary Albright stated that “the lands of King St. Stephen and Cardinal Mindszenty…reside fully and irrevocably in the Western community of nations…”  

April 23-25, 1999
The Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of NATO’s Founding as well as a NATO Summit was held in Washington D.C.

Representatives of the 19-member NATO nations stand for a group photograph during the commemorative ceremony of the 50th anniversary of NATO held at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium (AWMA), Washington, D.C., USA on April 23, 1999.

April 24, 1999
Celebrating the Spirit of NATO

HAC co-hosted a Gala Dinner with the Potomac Foundation, commemorating both the 50th Anniversary of NATO’s founding and the accession of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to the Alliance. More than 175 guests attended. U.S. President Bill Clinton and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán served as Honorary Patrons of the Gala Dinner. On his way to the formal White House dinner, Hungarian Prime Minister attended the Gala Dinner briefly reminding those present that it was due to the tragic bloodshed of 1956 that Hungary was finally able to gain its freedom in 1990 and security in 1999 without spilling a drop of blood.