10/25/2017 - AHF congratulates former Ambassador of Hungary to the United States Réka Szemerkényi on her well-deserved appointment as executive vice president at the Center for European Policy Analysis, CEPA
"Congratulations on your well-deserved appointment as executive vice president at the Center for European Policy Analysis where we are certain that you will continue your outstanding work in promoting our shared values.
On behalf of the American Hungarian Federation, we wish to express our heartfelt appreciation for your distinguished representation of Hungary as ambassador. Your thoughtfulness and sincerity in conveying Hungary's proud heritage and aspirations for the future has earned the respect of all of us at the Federation."
Experienced diplomat and policy expert becomes CEPA’s new executive vice president
WASHINGTON, DC, October 25, 2017 - The Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) announces that Ambassador Réka Szemerkényi is joining the Center as executive vice president. Based out of CEPA’s Washington office, Szemerkényi will be responsible for expanding the Center’s policy outreach and stakeholder engagement in both the United States and Europe. She assumes the post immediately.
“I could not be more pleased that Réka is joining CEPA as our new executive vice president,” said CEPA President Peter B. Doran. “Réka embodies CEPA’s mission and vision as one of Central Europe’s leading Atlanticist voices, most recently as Hungary’s first female ambassador to the United States. And she is joining a world class team of American and European policy experts at CEPA.”
As executive vice president at CEPA, Szemerkényi brings to the organization a wealth of experience in U.S.-Central European relations, with over two decades of achievements in government, the private sector, and the expert policy community.
“Réka has demonstrated a strong commitment to Atlanticism throughout her career,” said CEPA Chairman Larry Hirsch. “We are delighted to have Réka join the CEPA team, as I know she will continue to work tirelessly to promote a deeper, more enduring relationship between Europe and the United States.”
Previously, Szemerkényi served as Hungary’s ambassador to the United States. In her career spanning the public service and nonprofit sectors, she was instrumental in helping facilitate Hungary’s NATO accession process, in establishing alternative natural gas supplies for Central Europe, in strengthening energy policy cooperation among U.S. allies in the region, and in launching several initiatives designed to bolster American ties with Europe.
“Réka is a stalwart Atlanticist with deep expertise in all the areas that matter most, including energy security, defense, intelligence, and information warfare,” said CEPA Senior Vice President Edward Lucas. “I am delighted that we will be working together at CEPA.”
Szemerkényi holds a doctorate from the Pázmány Péter Catholic University of Budapest. She received a master’s degree in strategic studies from Johns Hopkins University (SAIS) in 1995. She also holds degrees from the European Institute of International Relations in France (1991) and Eötvös Loránd University of Budapest (1992). In 2017, she was awarded the title of Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Marymount University for Promoting International Cooperation, and in 2016 she received an honorary doctorate from the Hungarian Public University. She is the recipient of several awards, including the Hungarian National Service Award for her contribution to Hungary’s NATO admission (1999); l’Ordre National du Mérite by French President Jacques Chirac (2001); the “Bene Merito” award by Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski (2010); and the Award for “Promoting Freedom and Security in Central Europe” by the Slovak Atlantic Commission (2013). She is an elected member of the European Council on Foreign Relations and serves as vice president of the Hungarian Atlantic Council.
CEPA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-partisan public policy research institution dedicated to the study of Central and Eastern Europe, with offices in Washington and Warsaw. CEPA’s mission is to promote an economically vibrant, strategically secure, and politically free Central and Eastern Europe with close and enduring ties to the United States. Through written analysis and public events, CEPA educates policymakers and the public on the need for sustained engagement, helps transatlantic businesses navigate changing strategic landscapes, and builds networks of future leaders.
Since its creation in 2005, CEPA has grown rapidly to become a leading voice for strengthening security and democracy in the countries of post-communist Europe. It has also provided a forum for scholarly research, writing and debate on key issues affecting the CEE countries, their membership in NATO and the European Union, and their relationship with the United States. CEPA has grown to become the premier source of expert analysis and policymaker attention on U.S.-CEE relations, defense and geostrategy.
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10/11/2017 - AHF meets with Ambassador Kurt Volker to discuss current issues of interest to members of AHF, including Ukraine's new language law that curtails the Hungarian community's right to study in their mother tongue. AHF congratulated Ambassador Volker on his appointment as U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations. [read more]
09/13/2017 - Ukraine Language Law: AHF submits letter to US Secretary of State Tillerson regarding the inexplicable decision by Ukraine prohibiting Hungarian children of western Ukraine to study in their mother tongue (as well as in Ukrainian) beyond the 4th grade. That discriminatory law threatens the Hungarian minority’s culture and infringes on fundamental freedoms insofar as the survival of any national minority is to a large extent dependent on its ability to preserve and cultivate its culture, especially its language. [read more]
9/13/2016 - AHF issues statement on Minority Rights in Central and Eastern Europe. Throughout its more than 100 year old existence, AHF has decried and vigorously opposed manifestations of xenophobia, discrimination, racism and hate directed at national, ethnic, racial and religious minorities, including but not limited to expressions of anti-Semitism and hate speech directed against any minority group. Sadly the rights of Hungarian minorities have been largely ignored. [read more]
3/10/2014 - Ukraine: AHF Releases another Statement on the Plight of the Hungarian Minority in Transcarpathia. "Minority rights is a dimension to the complexity of Ukraine and the region that perhaps is laden with less immediate strategic significance but one that calls out for immediate attention to dispel the fear of perpetual conflict and to promote a democratic Ukraine. What is too often overlooked relates to the treatment of national minorities generally and specifically to Ukraine’s close to 200,000 ethnic Hungarians who live in western Sub-Carpathia, an area which was part of Hungary." [read more]
2/28/2014 - AHF Releases Statement in Connection with Recent Events in Ukraine calling attention to the plight of the Hungarian minority in Transcarpathia Ukraine. AHF urges the transitional government in Ukraine to fulfill the spirit of democracy as government for the people, by the people, and respect pluralism, the rule of law, and the rights of the Hungarian minority, including their democratically asserted right to autonomy. [read more]
02/08/2017 - AHF continues its outreach to the new administration, submits letter to Secretary of State Tillerson urging the United States to adopt a new approach to bilateral relations with Hungary. The letter urges the administration to "advance U.S. strategic interests and goals in the region as well as promote American values and hold out its accomplishments in a manner that will inspire positive reforms, including the treatment of Hungarian minorities in Hungary’s neighboring countries.
3/27/2014 - "Strengthen Ukraine by Strengthening Minority Rights:" As Russia completes the annexation of Crimea, creating a fait accompli probably impossible to reverse, the situation in Ukraine proper remains fraught with uncertainty. For the Hungarian minority in Ukraine the situation is especially precarious, particularly in light of a proposed ban on minority languages currently being pushed by nationalists in the Ukrainian parliament. While the legislation is currently stalled, it is essential that the United States and the European Union remind those Ukrainians hostile towards ethnic minorities that, as noted by World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder, “one of the basic tenets of liberal democracy is that minority rights are protected.” This is especially important because the backlash to the loss of Crimea could fuel ultra-nationalism and intolerance. [read more]
2011 - Hungarian Minority Communities Targets of Intimidation, Incitement and Vandalism throughout Central Europe - Hungarian Human Rights Foundation [more]
6/11/2008 - Sen. Schumer suggests return of Russia's hegemony in Central and East Europe... AHF (and Central and East European Coalition) sends letter and calls on community to express its concern. On June 3, 2008, Senator Schumer (D-NY) published an article in The Wall Street Journal entitled "Russia Can Be Part of the Answer on Iran." In this article, Sen. Schumer suggests that stronger economic sanctions would help deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The effectiveness of the sanctions, according to Sen. Schumer, will require Russia's cooperation. [read more]
UPDATE: 7/25/2008 - American Hungarian Federation Participates in CEEC Meeting with Senator Schumer: Discusses Russia "Hegemony" statement.
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." [read more]
7/22/2010 - AHF reacts to The Washington Post Editorial: "...the editorial, 'Hungary's Strongest Leader Targets the Media,' [July 19], seems to equate the prevailing sentiment in Hungary in support for minority rights and the new passport law with extremism. Nothing is farther from the truth." AHF letters reminded editors about the current extremism [see Slovak Language Law] in neighboring countries and explained that the legacy of Trianon continues to affect the lives of millions of ethnic Hungarians today. The letters also pointed out the fact that dual citizenship is a common and globally accepted practice even in those same countries that would discriminate against an ethnic Hungarian exercising his rights. AHF feels The Post missed the point and mixed unrelated issues. However, we appreciate the fact the The Post's editorial included a link to AHF's page on the Treaty of Trianon.
Letters included those from members Frank Koszorus, Jr., AHF President; Bryan Dawson, AHF Executive Chairman; and Geza Cseri, former Science and Technology Advisor to the Allied Supreme Commanders of NATO. The Post published a Letter to Editor from Geza Jeszenszky, former Ambassador to the United States and Foreign Minister.
All four letters appear in that order below:
Based on erroneous assumptions and a casual understanding of the challenges confronting Hungarians, the editorial, "Hungary's strongest leader targets the media," [July 19], seems to equate the prevailing sentiment in Hungary in support for minority rights and the new passport law with extremism. Nothing is farther from the truth. Consequently, the editorial appears biased and falls short of the high standard The Post sets for itself.
Remembering the Treaty of Trianon, which transferred over three million ethnic Hungarians to foreign rule, is neither polarizing nor a concern of only the right, as the editorial also suggests. Rather it is an issue today because some of Hungary's neighbors discriminate against their Hungarian minorities. Slovakia, which adopted a language law prohibiting the use of Hungarian in public, or Romania, which refuses to re-establish a former Hungarian university, are examples. If these countries respected minority rights, Trianon would be relegated to the history books.
Perhaps next time The Post will examine the facts a little more closely.
Frank Koszorus, Jr.
I was confused by the editorial, "Hungary's strongest leader targets the media," [July 19]. The merits (or lack thereof) of government media controls has little or nothing to do with passports or citizenship which are matters of national identity, not nationalism. Dual-citizenship is a common practice throughout the world as is autonomy and respect for local, historic communities. Is the U.S. nationalist for allowing Americans to live abroad and keep their passports? Is the US extreme for accepting dual citizenship with Britain, France or Mexico? Is Hungary extreme for accepting dual citizenship for ethnic Slovaks living in Hungary? Slovakia accepts dual citizenship for some, but will not extend the same rights to ethnic Hungarians who have lived in their own communities for over 1,100 years. As such, it is clearly discriminatory. Unfortunately, the law to rescind Slovak citizenship for ethnic Hungarians who exercise their right to apply for Hungarian citizenship on Saturday, July 17, 2010.
Is the concern for the basic human rights of an ethnic minority an extremist, extreme right-wing position? Are Catalonians extreme for wanting to speak Catalan with the postman in Catalonia? How about speaking French in Quebec? Spanish in Miami? Italian in Switzerland? Slovakia, under a truly nationalist government that include Jan Slota who called Hungarians, “the cancer of the Slovak nation,” passed a law making it illegal to converse in Hungarian with a Hungarian postman in a post office in an 1100-year old Hungarian village.
For the 40 years of communist rule, it was taboo to discuss topics such as Trianon and asserting rights for ethnic minorities as to not disturb the “socialist brotherhood of nations.” Does the Post long for the brotherhood’s return? As the link you provided explained so well, any objective observer would see Trianon as a huge miscarriage of justice that continues to affect the lives of millions today. It is not a right-wing, extremist issue, it is an issue of human and minority rights that should transcend the political spectrum. The firm re-establishment of democracy in Hungary allows for a full examination of these topics, however uncomfortable for the West who bears the responsibility for creating these minorities and ethnic strife in the first place.
When it comes to the Treaty of Trianon, you are telling to the Hungarians to forget it. How can you forget that your arms and legs are cut off, and millions of your brothers are under foreign rule, because that is what happened at Trianon. The Treaty unjustly, with malice, deprived Hungary of 65% of her inhabitants and 72% of her territory, an area as large as Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio or Kentucky combined. The dismemberment also created 16 million ethnic minorities, including millions of Hungarians. This treaty totally altered the political balance of Central Europe which then led to the Balkanization of the area and created the political and economy hardships and turmoil to the country and the area. There are no extremists on this issue since practically the whole nation laments the injustice of Trianon.
If there is revisionalism in Hungary, it is fueled by Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine and Serbia because of their oppressive and discriminatory policies. Slovakia, by the Benes Decrees and its language law prohibiting the use of Hungarian in public, or Romania, which refuses to re-establish a Hungarian university, or the continuous physical beatings of ethnic Hungarians by the Serbs in Voivodina are examples.
I hope that in the future, The Post will be more mindful of the facts and reality.
An unfair portrayal of Hungarian politics - 7/24/2010
The July 19 editorial "Hungary's rightward lunge" was as inaccurate as it was unfair. It also revealed a superficial understanding of Hungary and Fidesz, the party that just won a landslide victory in the parliamentary elections this spring. A few examples:
In 2002, Hungary's prime minister, Viktor Orbán, did not cater to "Hungary's extreme right," as the editorial stated, but successfully opposed it and helped oust its representatives from parliament by defeating them during the elections.
Although Washington did not welcome Hungary's decision to purchase fourth-generation Swedish-British Gripen fighter planes rather than used American F-16s, it did not make Mr. Orbán persona non grata and a pariah, as the editorial suggested. In March 2002, President George W. Bush telephoned Mr. Orbán and invited him to visit the United States following the elections, which looked like an almost certain victory for Mr. Orbán's Fidesz Party.
As a staunch friend of the United States and an appreciative reader of The Post, I hope that the editorial policy relating to Hungary will be more balanced and factual in the future.
Géza Jeszenszky, Budapest
Key Dates in Hungarian-American Diplomatic Relations: Diplomatic relations between Hungary and the United States were formally established in 1922, although unofficial contacts have been present ever since the War of Independence. Colonel Commandant Michael Kováts, a Hungarian nobleman is regarded as the founder of the American Cavalry, and was one of the first heroes to lay down his life for American independence near Charleston, South Carolina. Friendly relations between the two nations were further enhanced through Lajos Kossuth’s visit to the United States in 1851 – whose bust is one of the few foreign nationals present in the Capitol Rotunda. Kossuth was the second foreign national – after the Marquis de LaFayette – ever to be given the honor of speaking before a joint session of Congress.