On November 30, more than 100 members of the Hungarian American community attended the traditional Mikulás Dinner hosted by Ambassador Dr. László Szabó at the Embassy of Hungary. HIF Chairman of the Board Ambassador April Foley, HIF Board Members Edith Lauer, Governor George Pataki, and HIF Executive Director Anna Smith Lacey took part in the Hungarian American Coalition’s 27th Annual Mikulás Dinner to celebrate the opening of the holiday season along with the Hungarian American community’s achievements.
The Hungarian American Coalition’s leadership was joined by members of the honorary consular corps of Hungary, local leaders of the Hungarian American community and TFAS Széll Kálmán Public Policy Fellows Dorka Takácsy and Zoltán Szücs, CEPA Andrássy National Security Fellows, Krisztián Jójárt and Miklós Lázár, and Atlantic Council Atlanticist Fellow Fanni Virág.
Ambassador Dr. László Szabó welcomed the guests, underlining the successful economic and improving relationship between Hungary and the United States. After the dinner, a special video made for this occasion presented the 25th anniversary of the passing of József Antall, the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Hungary after the regime change.
Coalition President Andrea Lauer Rice spoke about the powerful bond of the Hungarian American community, and their opportunity to accomplish greater things together, to overcome difficulty and to support each other, and the valuable community of the CIP alumni. She presented the accomplishments of the Coalition’s recently renamed John N. Lauer Leadership Training Program (LTP) – formerly called Coalition Internship Program – and its role in offering participants the insight into civic engagement in the US as well as putting this model into practice at home, in their own communities.
The evening’s keynote speaker, Atlantic Council Executive Vice President Damon Wilson spoke warmly about his special relationship with Hungary and the Hungarian American community which goes back decades and underlined the importance of the United States’ engagement with its friends and allies:
“As we look forward next year to celebrating 30 years since the Berlin Wall fell and 20 years since NATO enlargement, we must mobilize our alliance, develop and implement strategies to bolster a free Central Europe, and reinvest in the people who bring to life the special ties between our countries.”
Mr. Wilson presented several ideas to bolster the US-Hungarian alliance, and to deepen the understanding between the two nations, as well as building a strategic partnership based on common values and goals. The Atlantic Council’s Central Europe Initiative and its collaboration with the Hungary Initiatives Foundation, in many ways, does just that by aiming to build communities of influence invested in the US-Hungarian alliance. He quoted Ambassador Dan Fried by concluding that:
“Scolding is a waste of time. Handwringing is lazy. The US needs to show up.” No attacking. No complaining. Rather together, we start building.”
Photo credit: Hungarian American Coalition/Nándor Nagy Photography