HUNGARIAN AMERICAN COALITION HOLDS ANNUAL MEETING
Washington, D.C. - December 4, 2005
On December 3, 2005, the Hungarian American Coalition (Coalition) held its 14th Annual General and Board Meetings at the Kossuth House in Washington, D.C. György Dozsa took over the rotating Chairmanship of the organization, and the Board elected Helen Szablya, Honorary Consul of Hungary in Seattle and President of the Seattle-Pécs Sister Cities Association, as Rising Chairman for 2007.
At the Annual Meeting the membership elected Balázs Somogyi, of Cheshire, CT, and re-elected László Varju and Peter Soltész for another three-year term as Board members.
The Board elected the Manhattan Hungarian Network of New York, represented by Ms. Elizabeth Vilmik, President, as Board member and re-elected the following organizational members for the 2005-2008 term: the National Committee of Hungarians from Slovakia, represented by Edith Lauer and the Hungarian (Magyar) Club of Chicago, represented by Paul Varga. The membership request of the following individuals was also approved: István Teleki of Bethesda, MD; Juan D. Gorondi of New Brunswick, NJ; Stephen Vamossy of Tuckahoe, NY; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Farkas of Chappaqua, NY; Jules G. Balogh of Morris Plains, NJ; John A. Vamossy of Pleasantville, NY; Mr. and Mrs. Stephen M. Vajtay, Jr. of Somerset, NJ, and István Flesch of South Orange, NJ.
The Board approved the program recommendations of the 1956 Commemoration Committee. Plans include the development and operation of the www.freedomfighter56.com website, co-sponsored by the Coalition and Lauer Learning, LLC, and numerous other initiatives, which will involve the Coalition’s membership.
The Coalition’s weekend activities began on Friday, December 2, with the traditional White House Briefing, attended by a delegation of about 25 Coalition members in the Indian Treaty Room.
Mr. Damon Wilson, Director, Central, Eastern and Northern European Affairs, National Security Council, welcomed the group and provided an overview of U.S.-Hungarian relations. Other briefers were: Kurt Volker, Acting Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, who delivered a presentation on U.S.-Hungary relations from the point of view of the Department of State. John Becker, Office of the Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, Department of State briefed the group on Property Restitution in Romania. The issue of Hungarians in Vojvodina was presented by Francisco “Dan” Sainz, Principal Deputy Director, Office for South Central Europe, Bureau of European Affairs, and a progress report on Visa issues was made by Christine Kagarise, Europe Desk Officer, Visa Office, Department of State. The topic of Democracy Promotion was presented by Cheryl Clayton, Europe Desk Officer, Office for Promotion of Democracy and Human Rights, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Department of State.
In the one-and-a-half hour-long session Coalition members received detailed answers to questions from each presenter on issues of interest to Coalition members.
Later that evening, Coalition members and guests attended the traditional 14th Annual Mikulás Dinner hosted by His Excellency Mr. András Simonyi and Mrs. Simonyi at the Hungarian Embassy. Mrs. Andrea Lauer Rice served as Master of Ceremonies and welcomed the distinguished gathering. Ambassador Simonyi spoke about progress in U.S.-Hungary relations and commended the Coalition’s efforts in promoting Hungarian American understanding in both the U.S. and Hungary.
Mrs. Edith Lauer introduced U.S. Ambassador George H. Walker who was the evening’s keynote speaker. Ambassador Walker provided an overview of developments in Hungary in the areas of economic development, education and health. He gave high marks to the Coalition for its project and accomplishments in 2005, that strengthen U.S.-Hungarian ties, and recognized the significance of the Coalition’s wide-ranging role in coordinating next year’s 1956 commemorative activities for its membership.
Ambassador Walker’s remarks were followed by Coalition President, Maximilian Teleki, who reported on the Coalition’s highlights of 2005 which included: awarding scholarships; increasing its endowment; establishing a Congressional Internship Program; organizing the North American Tour of the Béla Bartók Choir and University Orchestra of ELTE University, Budapest and sponsoring the tour of Dr. Otto von Habsburg and his family in April, which promoted the importance of transatlantic relations. Mr. Teleki reflected on the Coalition’s nearly 15 years of service, and pointed to the coming year’s historic 50th Anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution by stating, “We must ensure that the heroes of 1956 and the suffering of a nations during the dark hours of the Cold War will never be forgotten.”
The Coalition presented an antique etching of Budapest to Ambassador and Mrs. Walker in recognition of their outstanding efforts as bridge builders between the US and Hungary.
Ms. Charity Tilleman-Dick, granddaughter of Congressman and Mrs. Tom Lantos performed an aria form the opera „La Boheme” and Christmas carols in Hungarian and English. She was accompanied by Dana Scott at the piano.
At the end of the evening all guests of the Mikulás dinner were presented with „56 Stories,” a publication of personal recollections from the Hungarian Revolution.