AMKA Hosts Forum on US - Hungarian Relations
12/2/2014 - AHF sponsors Forum on on US - Hungarian Relations hosted by sister foundation in Hungary the Amerikaiak a Magyarokért Alapítvány (AMKA or Americans for Hungarians Foundation): Panel participants included André Goodfriend, the Charge d'Affaires of the US embassy; Frank Koszorus Jr. the President of American Hungarian Federation; Dr. Lomnici Zoltán the spokesperson of the Civil Összefogás Fórum (CÖF); Hejj Tibor, the President of P-M-C Consulting who has sponsored many charity projects; and Gyula (Jules) Balogh, President of the Amerikaiak a Magyarokért Alapítvány.
AMKA hosted the forum as part of its 5th anniversary celebration on November 26th, coinciding with Thanksgiving, at the Danubius Hotel Flamenco in Budapest. Over 200 guests attended including Prof. Dr. Horváth János former doyen of parliament and his wife Linda; Dr. Réka Szemerkényi the next Hungarian Ambassador to the United States; Katalin Csorba representing the Hungarian Foreign Ministry; Col. Zoltán Boné former Defense Attaché of the Embassy of Hungary in Washington DC; and Sándor Herpai, Architect featured at the 2013 Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in Washington, DC.
The Forum was the first in a series to be held to address the hoped-for restoration of the excellent relations that the United States has had with Hungary for many years, but which has been deteriorating recently. This first of a kind forum brought together parties holding differing views on the political landscape of Hungary and the bilateral relations between the two natural allies. The purpose of the FORUM was to candidly exchange ideas and better understand these various perspectives.
The participants (seen here) included the U.S. Charge d'Affaires André Goodfriend, Dr. Lomnici Zoltán, Jr., the spokesperson of the Civil Összefogás Forum (CÖF), American Hungarian Federation President Frank Koszorus, Jr., Mr. Héjj Tibor President of Proactive Management Consulting, and Mr. (Jules) Gyula Balogh President of the Amerikaiak a Magyarokért Alapítvány. All of the participants had experience working or being educated in the United States.
The event opened with a very moving Thanksgiving celebration where Americans, Hungarians and American Hungarians gave thanks for what they had received over the past year and reflected on the bonds that tie Americans and Hungarians together. Dr. Zsuzsanna Dreisziger, AMKA Co-President, delivered welcoming remarks [watch video ].
Sándor Herpai, Architect featured at the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in Washington, D.C., reflected on the 2013 Festival entitled, ""Hungarian Heritage - Roots to Revival," which attracted 1.2 million visitors, and the support he received from the Smithsonian Institute's leaders and the Hungarian American community, namely former AHF President István Fedor and his wife Erika, current AHF Co-President and Chair of the Social Affairs Committee. Col. Zoltán Boné former Defense Attaché of the Embassy of Hungary in Washington DC talked about the experiences of Hungarian and American soldiers fighting side by side in Afghanistan and the unity of purpose achieved and the life-long bonds made in the harshest of conditions. [watch video ]
The FORUM started with observations by the participants of what was good about America and Hungary, as viewed by both sides.
Dr. Lomnici described his wonderful 6 years in the U.S. at the NIH where he had a grant to study issues relating to tobacco. Mr. Hejj described his obtaining his MBA in the U.S. where he went with his family and 4 children. He experienced the hospitality of the people and friendships with professors, the educational system, the honesty of the students, even the wonderful nursery for his children. He also talked about how friendly and accepting the students were to a youth who was disabled. Mr. Koszorus spoke about the freedoms andopportunities provided to all in the U.S. to succeed, and the tremendous benefits citizenship provides. Mr. Balogh spoke about coming to the U.S. at age 7 and how his mother said that you must always keep your Hungarian heart, but you are now an American. He talked about America's' willingness to help other people and its entrepreneurial spirit.He also said that Hungary is a magical land, like Disneyworld, charming with wonderful people and a beautiful countryside. Mr. Goodfriend said that the U.S. and Hungary had many things in common. The U.S. has accepted people from diverse lands and that acceptance is one of the great strengths of America. Hungary in the past has also been very accepting of other peoples.
The FORUM then moved to a discussion of the concerns that Hungarians and American Hungarians had with the U.S. government’s approach to Hungary and the issues the U.S. government had with Hungary. Mr. Koszorus, who also represented the Federation at the Hungarian Diaspora Committee meeting earlier that week, read a moving letter from an apolitical professor in Hungary who is a friend of the United States but who reiterated the perception that the U.S. was demeaning and humiliating the Hungarian people with its overwhelming and public criticism, much of which was overstated or lacked proof.
Dr. Lomnici described some of the problems in the U.S., such as discrimination and corruption, implying that the U.S. may not have much standing to criticize others. He also mentioned that the U.S. did not help Hungary in 1956 and that was a sore point among Hungarians.
Mr. Héjj, among other things, mentioned that Hungary has been historically surrounded by conflict from other countries and that Hungarians often have had to fend for themselves, such as in 1956. They therefore are very sensitive about their sovereignty. He said that Americans need to understand this when they involve themselves in the internal workings of Hungary.
Mr. Balogh put forth the question of why the U.S. only criticizes conservative governments. Mr. Goodfriend had many good things to say about Hungary, including the friendliness of the people and acknowledged Hungary is a democracy. He also indicated that he had an issue with the formulation of the latter question, since he felt that the U.S. approach was not criticism of one party but a dialogue about what the embassy observed in Hungary.
The final question asked how to solve the issues between the two countries. There was agreement that enhanced exchange programs highlighting both cultures, student exchange programs, cooperation in research, improved trade, taking sensitive discussions behind closed doors, and both governments being proactive on improving relations would go a long way to removing the strain between the U.S. and Hungary.
Photos Courtesy of György Soós
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1/15/2015 - AHF concerned over US / Hungarian relations, public criticism of Internal Affairs by US officials: In a Tweet on January 12, 2015, US Embassy Charge d’Affaires Andre Goodfriend quoted Stephen I, the first king of Hungary (975–1038), who urged his son Emeric to welcome foreigners. The Tweet... clearly made in response to the Hungarian Prime Minister's recent policy statement... that Hungary and Europe should, with the exception of political asylum, curb economic immigration. [read more]
1/15/2015 - Federation leaders meet with new US Ambassador to Hungary Colleen Bell and Hungarian Desk Officer Ivan Weinstein. American Hungarian Federation leaders, including president Frank Koszorus, Jr., Esq. and International Committee members Paul Kamenar, Esq., Drs. Imre Nemeth and Louis Segesvary, met with Ambassador Colleen Bell and Hungarian Desk Officer Ivan Weinstein. [read more]
12/08/14 - AHF submits letter to Sen. John McCain over his "neo-fascist, dictator" comments: "We agree that Hungary is an important country given the recent, alarming and unacceptable developments in Ukraine and otherwise. We fear that your critical characterization of Hungary last week was unjustified and unbalanced and your labeling its prime minister a neo-fascist dictator was just plain wrong. These gratuitous statements further confused, alienated and angered the Hungarian people. Unless appropriately and timely addressed, this, in turn, will undermine support for the security matters noted above to the detriment of American strategic goals." [read more]
10/22/14 - AHF submits letter to US Asst. Secretary of State Victoria Nuland: "The appearance of selective enforcement and the use of anti-corruption measuresas a “big gun” for political purposes that are unrelated to corruption, coupled with the other issues noted in this letter merely befuddle and alienate the Hungarian people and undermine U.S. goals...Corruption cannot, must not be tolerated. It needs to be eradicated wherever found. If not halted, it will undermine democracy and the free market system. We, therefore, support U.S. anti-corruption initiatives. However, in order to be effective, selective prosecution should be meticulously avoided." [read more]
11/14/14 - AHF meets with National Security Council and State Department Officials - On Friday, November 14, 2014, Frank Koszorus, Jr., President of the American Hungarian Federation, and Paul Kamenar and Imre Nemeth, members of the Federation's International Relations Committee, met with Nathaniel Dean, Director for Central and North European Affairs at the National Security Council, Thomas O. Melia, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, and Ivan Weinstein, Desk Officer for Hungary at the Department of State.
12/17/14 - AHF Meets with Kathy Kavalec, Director, U.S. Department of State, Office of Russian Affairs: On December 17, AHF met with Kathy Kavalec, Director, U.S. Department of State, Office of Russian Affairs, to discuss Russia's policies and activities in Central Europe, including Hungary, and U.S. response thereto. "Our Federation believes that good bilateral relations between the United States and Hungary and a strong and united NATO are in the interest of both countries and necessary to meet the formidable challenges posed by Russia in the region," said the Federation's president Frank Koszorus, Jr. "Winning instead of alienating public opinion is critical to advance these goals," he added.
10/10/14 - AHF submits letter to President Obama: "...although we believe that vigilance is necessary to preclude backsliding when it comes to democracy, we are justifiably puzzled and deeply concerned that you lumped Hungary in with Egypt and some of the worst dictatorships of the world in assessing the state of civil society freedoms. We... respectfully call upon you to retract that part of your statement that unjustifiably places Hungary in the same category with Egypt and other such repressive countries. Doing so would help alleviate the concern, confusion and disbelief found in our community about the United States views of Hungary, a democratic ally. It would also serve to advance the goals of the United States in the region."
5/11/2012 - Budapest’s Central European University hosted a one-day conference to mark the 90th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Hungary and the United States on May 9th. The conference, co-organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the US Embassy in Budapest, was opened by Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi and US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Bay Fang [read more].
3/29/2014 - Amerikában tiltakoznak a budapesti nagykövet kinevezése ellen A diplomáciai poszthoz szükséges minimális tudással sem rendelkeznek - fogalmaz a diplomatákat tömörítő szövetség. "Az Amerikai Magyar Szövetség - az AFSA nyilatkozatától függetlenül - bízik abban, hogy Colleen Bell konkrét intézkedéseket hoz annak érdekében, hogy a pártosság és a kettős mérce megszűnjön Magyarországgal szemben. [tovább]
01/17/2014 - „Problémás” mandátumra számít Budapesten az amerikai nagykövetjelölt [tovabb]
Pártatlanságot kérnek az amerikai magyarok Colleen Bell nagykövettől. „Magyarország elkötelezett szövetségese a NATO-nak és az Egyesült Államoknak, ez a külpolitika a magyar lakosság egyetértésével valósul meg. A magyar közvélemény kiállása sokat jelentett az Egyesült Államok közép-kelet európai politikájában mind a hidegháborúban, mind az azt követő években. Sajnálatosan ez a támogatás vészesen csökken a következő okok miatt" [tovább]
1/17/2014 - Amerikai magyar szervezetek Colleen Bell jelöléséről... Maximilian Teleki, az Amerikai Magyar Koalíció és Koszorús Ferenc, az Amerikai Magyar Szövetség elnöke is üdvözölte csütörtökön Colleen Bell budapesti amerikai nagyköveti jelölését. [tovább]
1/11/2013 - AHF again responds to Senator Ben Cardin, Co-Chair of the US Helsinki Commission. In his December 20, 2012 statement, the Senator was unfairly critical of Hungary. "...we are concerned that (1) your assertions concerning Hungary omit relevant facts; and (2) your statement fails to raise the discrimination and intolerant policies toward ethnic Hungarians in some of the countries bordering Hungary. The statement therefore leaves the impression... of bias, which could result in cynicism toward the Helsinki Commission and its valuable and necessary work."
Amerikai Magyar Szövetség: részrehajlás nélküli megítélést! - MTI [Szeged Ma]
American Hungarian Federation slams “unmerited criticism directed at Hungary” [more]
Magyarország amerikai mikroszkóp alatt: valós aggodalmak vagy elfogult politikai támadás? Az Egyesült Államok legnagyobb magyar emigráns szervezete, az Amerikai Magyar Szövetség közleményt bocsátott ki a Magyarországot ért politikailag motivált, érdemtelen amerikai kritikákra reagálva. Az írás különösen aktuális, hiszen februárban tényfeltáró amerikai kongresszusi delegáció utazik hazánkba. [tovább]
3/5/2012 - AHF has Follow-Up Capitol Hill Meeting on Recent Congressional Trip to Hungary and Slovakia. Prior to the delegation’s trip the Federation submitted background information on Hungary and Slovakia to the CODEL. “At a time when there is considerable misinformation being disseminated about Hungary and so little known about the discrimination against the Hungarian minority in Slovakia, we believe such fact-finding missions are most useful, welcome and greatly appreciated,” said Mr. Koszorus. [read more]
2/17/2012 - AHF briefs top professional staff advisor to Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia on the eve of congressional delegation (CODEL) trip to Hungary and Slovakia. The Federation submitted a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member along with significant background materials on Hungary andSlovakia and called their attention to recent harsh and often politically motivated and unfair criticism of Hungary and the anti-Hungarian attitudes, policies and practices in Slovakia [read more] and join the discussion on Politics.hu!
1/11/2011 - AHF Issues its First Statement on Hungarian Media Law: "A Rush to Judgment: The Reaction to the Hungarian Media Law." It is our "unassailable and firm conviction that freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy and liberty." But the unprecedented rush to judgment and vitriolic media coverage of the Hungarian media law seems to have been based on a partial understanding of the law itself and, in some cases, appears to be motivated by bias or political considerations. [Read more]
7/12/2011 -- AHF Reacts to Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Co-Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, who questioned democracy in Hungary and criticized expressions of concern for Hungarian minorities. AHF's letter expressed its steadfast conviction that judgments be "objective, fair, balanced and based on facts and not generalizations and speculation." It also urged the Helsinki Commission not to ignore the Hungarian minorities but to publicly and privately encourage Slovakia and Romania "to build tolerant societies by respecting the rights of their Hungarian and other minorities and the rule of law." [read more]
Levelet írt az egyik szenátornak az Amerikai Magyar Szövetség
Miért támadja Magyarországot az amerikai szenátor?
American-Hungarian federation strike back at US senator over critical comments, by MTI