Hungary

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Overview

Hungary occupies an area about the size of Indiana and enjoys a temperate climate. The country was has been a Christian nation since 1100 AD, and was a monarchy for more than 1,000 years. Hungary fought alongside Germany during both world wars. During the Second World War, it lost hundreds of thousands of its citizens, including many Jews and Roma, who were killed or deported by the Nazis. In January 1945, Hungary formed an armistice with Russia and fell under the USSR’s control for the latter half of the 20th Century. In 1956, a nationalistic revolution tried to pave the way for democracy, in which a more liberal climate, along with freedoms of the press, assembly and association were relaxed. The Soviets crushed the effort, but eventually, Hungary became one of the more liberal countries in the Soviet Eastern Bloc. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the country has endured severe financial problems due to privatization. However, it has undergone far-reaching economic and political reforms to enable its 2004 accession to the European Union.

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Basic Information

 

Lay of the Land: Occupying an area of93,030 sq. km. (35,910 sq. mi.), Hungary is about the size of Indiana. Its capital and largest city is Budapest; other important cities include Debrecen, Szeged, and Miskolc. The terrain is mostly flat, with low mountains in the north and northeast. It is a landlocked country; the main body of water is Lake Balaton in the south, as well as the Danube and Tisza Rivers. Its border countries are Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine, Austria, Slovenia, Serbia, and Croatia. The climate is temperate.                    
 
Population: 9.9 million
 
Religions: Roman Catholic 55%, Reformed Protestant 15%, Lutheran 3%, Greek Catholic 3%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 0.2%, non-religious 21.8%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Hungarian 02.3%, Roma 1.9%, other 5.8%.
 
Languages: Hungarian (official) 94%, German 2.5%, Romani (Balkan, Carpathian, Sinte, Vlax) 1.8%, Bavarian 1.7%, Romanian 1.0%, Slovak 0.1%, Slovenian 0.05%, Croatian 0.03%. 
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History

With roots as a “barbarian” tribe that settled the Danubian plain in the 900s, Hungary became a Christian nation with the conversion of King Steven in 1000. It endured lengthy and damaging invasions from the Tatars, the Ottoman Turks, and ultimately the Habsburgs; finally, after a bloody and unsuccessful revolution in 1848 during which Hungary’s national anthem was composed, the Habsburg Empire became a dual Austro-Hungarian monarchy in 1867. During the 1890s, Budapest, the capital of Hungary, underwent a period of growth and moved towards becoming a center of European culture, art, and architecture. The Austro-Hungarian monarchy ended with World War I, when Hungary was declared a republic and, through the Treaty of Trianon in 1923, lost nearly two-thirds of its territory as well as over half of its population.

 
In 1919, Hungary experienced a brief and bloody Communist dictatorship and counter-revolution. For 25 years afterward, Admiral Miklos Horthy ruled the country, in a period where Hungary moved further to the Fascist right, became increasingly dependent on Germany and underwent numerous financial crises.
 
During World War II, Hungary fought alongside its German allies, largely because of Germany’s offers to return land lost through the Treaty of Trianon, particularly Transylvania in Romania and Vojvodina in Yugoslavia. In the first years of the war, although anti-Semitic laws were passed, Jews were sent to work camps instead of death camps; Hungary had a larger and more tolerated Jewish population than the rest of Eastern Europe. The Nazis deposed Admiral Horthy in 1944, at which point over 500,000 Jews were sent to death camps, mostly at Auschwitz (which was build almost entirely to accommodate the large numbers of Hungarian Jews); however, the Jews of Budapest were forced to move to one of the city’s district, where they suffered hunger and street brutality.
 
On January 20, 1945, Hungary’s provisional government created an armistice with the Soviet Union, establishing the Allied Control Commission. This agreement gave Soviet, American and British representatives sovereignty over the country. A member of Joseph Stalin’s inner circle ran the commission and exercised complete control.
 
The Hungarian Communist Party (MKP), which had formed the majority of the provisional government, was replaced in November 1945 when elections passed power to the Independent Smallholders’ Party. Under this party, Hungary nationalized mines, electric plants, industries and some large banks. But clashes with Communist rivals led to the elections in 1947, which many believed were tainted by fraud. During these elections, the leftists regained power.
 
Shifts to Communist control in the Central and Eastern European bloc strained postwar relations between the Soviet Union and the West, although as evidenced by post-World War II negotiations, neither Britain nor the U.S. had invested interests in that region, or much will to defend it from soviet control. Thus, with support from the USSR, Mátyás Rákosi began to establish a Communist dictatorship in Hungary.
 
By February 1949, the MKP merged all of the country’s political parties together to form the Hungarian Workers’ Party. Later that year, the Communists held an election and adopted a constitution inspired by that of the Soviet Union’s. The Hungarian People’s Republic was formed in 1952, with Rákosi as prime minister.
 
Between 1948 and 1953, the Hungarian economy was reorganized. In 1949, the country joined the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA, or Comecon), a Soviet-bloc economic organization. Firms with more than 10 employees were nationalized, and freedom of the press, religion and assembly were all curtailed; the late 1940s and early 1950s in Hungary were characterized by politics of fear, with show trials, a ruthless secret police, and purges that punished the innocent for conspiring against the Workers’ Revolution. The head of the Roman Catholic Church and the Hungarian Catholic majority, Cardinal József Mindszenty, was sentenced to life imprisonment.
 
However, soviet central economic planning was not entirely successful, and not even strict censure of the population could keep the country’s situation under control. By the middle of 1953, when Stalin died, a “thaw” of sorts began to take place, called the post-Stalinist thaw. The new Soviet leaders blamed Rákosi for Hungary’s economic situation and began to brainstorm more flexible policy called the “New Course.” By the end of the year, Imre Nagy replaced Rákosi as prime minister. His policies moved Hungary away from collectivization and heavy industry, ended the political purges, and freed thousands of political prisoners.
 
In spite of these changes, the country’s economic situation continued to deteriorate. Rákosi disrupted many of the reforms and forced Nagy from power in 1955. Later that year, Hungary joined the Warsaw Pact Treaty Organization. But when Khrushchev denounced Stalin in 1956, any attempts by Rákosi to restore Stalin’s policies in Hungary were met with opposition. Shortly thereafter, Moscow replaced Rákosi with Ernô Gerô, his deputy.
 
On October 23, 1956, security forces fired on students in Budapest who were marching in support of Poland’s confrontation with the Soviet Union. This grew into a massive public uprising. Imre Nagy was named prime minister on October 25, helping to quell the fighting, and János Kádár was named as the party’s first secretary. Nagy dissolved the state security police, abolished the country’s one-party system, promised free elections, and negotiated with the USSR to withdraw its troops.
 
On November 1, Nagy announced Hungary’s neutrality and withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact. He appealed to the United Nations and the Western powers for protection of its neutrality. Preoccupied with the Suez Crisis, the UN and the West failed to respond, and the Soviet Union launched a massive military attack on Hungary on November 3. Some 200,000 Hungarians fled to the West. Nagy and his colleagues took refuge in the Yugoslav Embassy.
 
Kádár, who had vowed to fight the Russians with his bare hands if they attacked Hungary, defected from the Nagy cabinet and fled to the Soviet Union. He then returned to Budapest and, with Soviet support, carried out severe reprisals; thousands of people were executed or imprisoned. Despite a guarantee of safe conduct, Nagy was arrested and deported to Romania. In June 1958, the government announced that Nagy and other former officials had been executed.
 
In the early 1960s, Kádár announced a new policy that operated under the motto, “He who is not against us is with us.” He liberalized the cultural, economical, and political climate; the secret police was dissolved and the excessive paranoid censure of the Stalinist era came to an end. In 1966, the Central Committee approved the “New Economic Mechanism” designed to increase Hungary’s productivity and make it more competitive in worldwide markets. But these reforms did not go off as planned, and economic stagnation followed. Kadar’s government handled pressure from both sides over the next two decades, attempting to create a presence for Hungary in the marketplace.
 
By the early 1980s, Hungary achieved some lasting economic reforms, and began to follow a path of more open foreign policy by trading with the West. The New Economic Mechanism led to greater debt that had been incurred to shore up unprofitable industries.
 
Rising nationalism in Hungary brought the country closer to democracy, and by 1987, many were pressuring the government for change. Several groups began to develop into parties, including the Federation of Young Democrats (Fidesz), the Association of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), and the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF).
 
In 1988, Imre Pozsgay was admitted to the Politburo, and Kádár was replaced by Károly Grósz as general secretary of the MKP. During that year, Hungary’s parliament allowed freedom of association, assembly and the press, revising the constitution and paving the way for democracy.
 
Communist party membership continued to decline, and in February 1989, a Central Committee plenum endorsed a multi-party political system. Kádár’s political rivals pushed for democracy, and in April 1989, the Soviet Union signed an agreement to withdraw its forces by June 1991.
 
Nationalism continued to rise, and in June 1989, a consortium of representatives from the remaining parties met to discuss changes to the Hungarian constitution in preparation for the nation’s first free elections and the transition to democracy.
 
In October 1989, the Communist party re-established itself as the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) and adopted legislation calling for multi-party elections for parliament and a direct election for president. The country became known as the Republic of Hungary and began to guarantee human and civil rights, and to ensure the separation of the judicial, executive and legislative branches of the government.
 
The Hungarian constitution still retained some of the vestiges from the old order, giving equal status to public and private property. In May of 1990, the first free parliamentary election was held, and the Communists of the MSZP fared poorly. The Democratic Forum (MDF) won 43% of the vote, and the Free Democrats (SZDSZ) got 24%.
 
József Antall was elected prime minister, and the MDF formed a center-right coalition government with the Independent Smallholders’ Party (FKGP) and the Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) to command a 60% majority in the parliament. Opposing parties included the SZDSZ, the Socialists (MSZP), and the Alliance of Young Democrats (Fidesz).
 
Antall died in December 1993. He was succeeded by Pete Boross. The Antall/Boross coalition governments began to lay the foundation for a free market economy, and in May 1994, the socialists won the majority of votes, with 54% of the seats in parliament. The MSZP continued to enact economic reforms, including privatization and fiscal austerity, which came to be called the “Bokros plan,” in 1995.
 
Under Boross’s administration, Hungary formed a number of relationships with neighboring countries and Western countries. Hungary was invited to join NATO in 1997, and in the May elections, the Federation of Young Democrats (renamed Fidesz-Hungarian Civic Party (MPP) in 1995) captured a plurality of parliamentary seats and forged a coalition with the Smallholders and the Democratic Forum. The new government, headed by 35-year-old Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, promised to stimulate faster growth, curb inflation, and lower taxes.
 
In April 2002, Hungary voted to return the MSZP-Free Democrat coalition to power. Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy led the new government, placing its emphasis on solidifying Hungary’s Euro-Atlantic course. The country joined the European Union on May 1, 2004. 
 
Medgyessy resigned in August 2004 after losing coalition support. Ferenc Gyurcsany was selected to succeed Medgyessy in September 2004. In April 2006, Gyurcsány was re-elected, along with his socialist-liberal coalition. Currently, after Gyurcsány stepping down in March 2009 because of Hungary’s dire financial issues in the face of the recession, non-aligned former economic minister Gordon Bajnai has been elected the new prime minister.
 
History of Hungary (Wikipedia)
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Hungary's Newspapers
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History of U.S. Relations with Hungary

The first Hungarian to come to America, according to Hungarian traditions, was a man named Tyrker who traveled with the Viking Eric the Red on his epic journey to Newfoundland around the year 1000. 

 
Hungarians immigrated to America throughout the early colonial period. The first major wave came in the 1850s, as educated Hungarian men of the nobility who had supported the 1848 revolution fled, in fear of reprisals from the Austrian Hapsburgs. In the period leading up to World War I, another 700,000 ethnic Hungarians immigrated in search of economic opportunity. Although the restrictive Immigration Act of 1924 limited Hungarian Immigration to 1,000 per year, a number of Hungarians were accepted as refugees, including those fleeing the Nazis in the 1930s and the “Fifty-sixers,” Hungarians fleeing the dangerous political climate during and directly after the 1956 revolution.
 
After World War II, relations between the United States and Hungary were strained due to Soviet occupation of the Central and Eastern European bloc: Hungary had become part of the Eastern camp. In October 12, 1945, the two countries established full diplomatic relations before the Hungarian peace treaty was signed on February 10, 1947. After the Communist takeover in 1947-48, relations with the US became even more strained when the government nationalized US-owned property, and the operations of its legation were restricted.
 
US-Hungarian relations deteriorated particularly in 1956. Those revolting against the Communist regime were banking on the U.S.’s aid against the Soviets’ intervention, but since the U.S. was distracted by foreign interests elsewhere, the aid never came, and the Soviet intervention was bloody and very detrimental to the population’s morale. By 1966, the U.S. and Hungary exchanged ambassadors and brought about improving relations. In 1972, a consular convention agreed to provide consular protection to US citizens in Hungary.
 
In 1973, Hungary settled the nationalization claims of American citizens by signing a bilateral agreement, and in January 1978, the US returned the historic Crown of Saint Stephen, which had been held since the end of World War II.
 
Subsequently, the two nations enjoyed better relations, and in 1978, a bilateral trade agreement extended most-favored-nation status to Hungary. As Hungary removed itself from the Soviet Union’s control, the US offered assistance to establish a democratic system and new plan for developing a free market economy.
 
Between 1989 and 1993, the Support for East European Democracy (SEED) Act provided more than $136 million for economic restructuring and private sector development in Hungary.
 
The Hungarian-American Enterprise Fund has offered loans, equity capital, and technical assistance to promote private-sector development. The US government has provided expert and financial assistance for the development of modern and Western institutions in many policy areas, including national security, law enforcement, free media, environmental regulations, education, and health care.
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Current U.S. Relations with Hungary

Noted Hungarian-Americans

Peter Carl Goldmark – Hungarian-born engineer who developed long-playing (LP) microgroove 33-1/3 rpm vinyl phonograph disc
Ernô László – Hungarian-born dermatologist and founder of the Ernô László Institute
George Olah – Hungarian-born winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research in the generation and reactivity of carbocations via superacids
Charles Simonyi – Hungarian-born computer software executive who oversaw development of Microsoft’s office software; also dated Martha Stewart for 15 years
Victor Szebehely – Hungarian-born scientist whose research on orbital mechanics aided the construction of Apollo.
Albert Szent-Györgyi de Nagyrápolt – Hungarian-born winner of the 1937 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of Vitamin C
Leó Szilárd – Hungarian-born scientist who discovered the nuclear chain reaction
George von Békésy – Hungarian-born biophysicist and winner of the 1961 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for research on the function of the cochlea
Eugene Wigner – Hungarian-born winner of the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his contributions to the theory of the atomic nucleus and the elementary particles, particularly through the discovery and application of fundamental symmetry principles".
John Simon – Serbo-Hungarian critic; wrote reviews for New York magazine for over thirty years
Marcel Lajos Breuer – Hungarian-born architect and furniture designer, a master of Modernism
Keith Jarrett – Hungarian-American jazz icon
Tommy Ramone – Hungarian-American member of The Ramones
Miklós Rózsa – Hungarian-born film composer; won Oscars for his work in Spellbound (1945), A Double Life (1947), and Ben-Hur (1959).
Chris Jansing – Born Christine Kapostasy, American-born news correspondent for NBC in Los Angeles
Fiorello La Guardia – half-Hungarian mayor of New York from 1934 to 1945 who led New York’s recovery during the Great Depression
George Pataki – American-born Republican governor of New York (1995-2006)
Drew Barrymore – half-Hungarian American-born actress
Frank Darabont – Hungarian-American director of The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile
Joe Eszterhas – Hungarian-born screenwriter, best known for his work on Basic Instinct and Showgirls
George Pal - Hungarian-born director, producer, and cinematographer; worked on War of the Worlds and The Time Machine and is considered one of the pioneers of the sci-fi film genre
Vilmos Zsigmond - Hungarian-born cinematographer; Academy Award winner for Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Larry Csonka – Hungarian-American two-time Super Bowl champion; played running back and fullback for the Miami Dolphins; inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987
Al Hrabosky – American-born baseball player and sports newscaster, known as “The Mad Hungarian”
Mickey Hargitay – Hungarian-born bodybuilder, Mr. Universe 1955, and film personality; father of actress Mariska Hargitay
Karch Kiraly – American-born volleyball player; three-time Olympic gold medalist
Joe Namath – Hungarian-American quarterback and Super Bowl III champion; inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Charles Nagy – American-born baseball player; pitcher; three-time All-Star selection
Monica Seles – Serbian-Hungarian tennis player; member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame; former no. 1 tennis player in the world
Mariska Hargitay – American-born actress, best known for her role on TV’s Law and Order
 
Jewish Hungarians
Elie Wiesel – Jewish-Hungarian winner of the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize; best known for his books and memoirs on the Holocaust
Adrien Brody – American-born, Jewish-Hungarian actor; won Oscar in 2002 for Best Actor in The Pianist
Tony Curtis – American-born actor with Jewish-Hungarian parents
William Fox – Hungarian-born Jewish producer who founded 20th Century Fox
Paul Simon – Hungarian-American Jewish musician best known for his collaboration in the group Simon & Garfunkel
Calvin Klein – Hungarian-American Jewish fashion designer
Harry Houdini – Hungarian-American Jewish magician and entertainer, best known for his disappearing act
Joseph Pulitzer – Jewish-Hungarian publisher, best-known establishing “yellow journalism” along with Randolph Hearst and for posthumously establishing the Pulitzer Prize.
Edward Teller – Hungarian-born “father of the hydrogen bomb”
Sylvia Plachy – Hungarian-born Jewish photographer whose photo essays have appeared in The New York Magazine and The New Yorker, among other prolific periodicals; mother of actor Adrien Brody
Jamie Lee Curtis – American-born actress and children’s book author
George Cukor – American-born director of several classic films, such as The Philadelphia Story and My Fair Lady
Michael Curtiz – Born Manó Kertész Kaminer in Hungary, director of many successful films, such as Casablanca and Mildred Pierce
Adolph Zukor – Hungarian-born founder of Paramount Pictures
 
In 1999, when Hungary joined NATO, the country became a formal ally of the United States. The US government supported Hungary’s joining the European Union in 2004 and continues to work to establish an economic and political relationship.
 
In the 2000 census, 1,398,702 people identified themselves as being of Hungarian descent. The states with the largest Hungarian American populations are Ohio, New York, California, and New Jersey.
 
In 2006, 195,906 Americans visited Hungary. Tourism has grown steadily since 2002, when 133,873 Americans traveled to Hungary.
 
In 2006, 37,257 Hungarians visited the US. The number of tourists has fluctuated between a low of 31,984 (2003) and 37,308 (2005) in recent years.
 
United States & Hungary (Diplomacy Monitor)
US-Europe relations improving, but tensions remain (Richard Benedetto, USA TodayODAY)          
 
Hungarian-American Organizations
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Where Does the Money Flow

During 2003 to 2007, US imports from Hungary were dominated by computer accessories, averaging $650 million annually. Other top imports were electric apparatus and parts, which increased from $84 million to $173.5 million; measuring, testing and control instruments, increasing from $17.8 million to $106.8 million; telecommunications equipment, up from $36 million to $239 million; and passenger cars (new and used), increasing from $21 million (in 2006) to $177.3 million.

 
During the same time period, top US exports to Hungary included computer accessories, up from $59 million to $149 million; semiconductors, up from $45 million to $129 million; and industrial engines, up from $22 million to $102 million.
 
In 2007, the US gave Hungary $3.8 million in aid, divided between Foreign Military Financing ($2.4 million), and International Military Education and Training ($1.5 million). The 2008 budget estimate reduced aid to $2.1 million. The 2009 budget request will give Hungary $3.1 million, divided between Foreign Military Financing ($2 million), and International Military Education and Training ($1.1 million).
 
Hungary: Security Assistance (the US sold $11.9 million of defense articles and services to Hungary in 2007)
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Controversies

Blue Stream Pipeline Threatens to Derail Hungary’s Membership in EU

In March 2007, Hungary’s membership in the European Union was threatened when the country announced that it had agreed to a Russian proposal to extend the Blue Stream pipeline, which was created to transport natural gas to Hungary through Turkey and the Balkans. Critics, including US officials, said that the decision gave the nation preferential treatment and helped Russia gain a monopoly in the region (a big concern of the United States). Also, critics alleged that the pipeline sabotages the EU Nabucco pipeline, which is still in the planning stages. This pipeline was designed to circumvent Russian routes through the Caspian and Middle East. The Hungarian government defended its actions, saying that the Nabucco pipeline was nowhere near completion and would threaten delivery requirements.
Hungary: EU’s pipeline dream threatened (by Roman Kupchinsky, Spero News)
U.S.-Hungarian relations (Hungarian Spectrum)
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Human Rights

The State Department reports that Hungarian police used excessive force against suspects and charges of pro-government bias in state-owned media persisted. The perception of corruption in the executive and legislative branches increased as well. There continued to be manifestations of anti-Semitism, including vandalism. Violence against women and children as well as sexual harassment remained problems, as did trafficking in persons. Discrimination against Roma in education, housing, employment, and access to social services continued to be widespread.

 
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) continued to report that police harassed and used excessive force against suspects, particularly Roma. Reports of police abuse of Roma again increased somewhat during the year, but NGOs considered the increase to reflect increasing willingness of Roma to report such abuses.
 
Human rights and Romani organizations claimed that Roma received unequal treatment in the judicial process. Although the law prohibits official segregation of children by ethnicity or nationality, segregation of Romani children remained a problem. The unemployment rate for Roma was estimated at 70 percent, more than 10 times the national average, and most Roma lived in extreme poverty.
 
During the year police were implicated in a number of criminal acts, including corruption, theft, robbery, rape, bribery, and kidnapping. The ensuing scandals led to the dismissals of the Hungarian National Police (HNP) chief, the chief of the Budapest police, and the head of the Law Enforcement Security Service (REBISZ). The minister of justice and law enforcement resigned. In the same month, the head of the National Security Office (NBH) also resigned following scandals involving the intelligence and security services.
 
There is no jury system; judges are final arbiters. Judicial proceedings generally are investigative rather than adversarial. Counsel is appointed for persons in need, but public defenders were generally considered to be substandard.
The Jewish population numbered an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 persons, or less than 1% of the population. During the year anti-Semitic incidents, including vandalism, continued. Jewish community representatives contended that there had been an increase in anti-Semitism compared to 2006, particularly in the form of severe verbal assaults during antigovernment demonstrations.
 
The law prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, disability, or social status; however, in practice, widespread discrimination persisted, particularly against Roma. Violence against women, child abuse, and trafficking in persons were also problems.
 
The law does not specifically prohibit domestic violence or spousal abuse. The general charge of assault and battery, which carries a maximum prison term of eight years, is used to prosecute domestic violence cases. Expert research in the field of family violence indicated that an estimated 20% of women in the country had been physically assaulted or victimized by domestic violence. Prosecution for domestic violence was rare.
 
According to the National Police, 2,593 women were reported to be victims of domestic violence during the year, compared to 4,620 in 2006; however, most incidents of domestic violence went unreported due to fear and shame on the part of victims.
 
There were reports that persons were trafficked to, from, and within the country. Victims were trafficked primarily for sexual exploitation, but there were also reports of trafficking for domestic servitude and manual labor. The principal countries of origin were Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine, Moldova, Poland, the Balkans, and China. The principal destinations were Austria, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, France, Switzerland, and the United States. There were also reports of trafficking to Central America, Mexico, the Scandinavian countries, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Internal trafficking of women for sexual exploitation occurred.
 
Homosexuality is legal, but on one occasion right-wing groups subjected homosexuals to physical abuse.
 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

 

 
U. Grant-Smith
Appointment: [see note below]
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 24, 1922
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 28, 1922
Note: Not commissioned; letter of credence dated Dec 27, 1921. Legation Budapest had been established Dec 26, 1921, on which date Grant-Smith had been granted provisional recognition as Chargé d’Affaires.
 
Theodore Brentano
Appointment: Feb 10, 1922
Presentation of Credentials: May 16, 1922
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 6, 1927
 
J. Butler Wright
Appointment: Feb 26, 1927
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 18, 1927
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Oct 24, 1930
 
Nicholas Roosevelt
Appointment: Sep 29, 1930
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 12, 1930
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 9, 1933
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 16, 1930. Related to both Theodore and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
 
John Flournoy Montgomery
Appointment: Jun 13, 1933
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 1, 1933
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 17, 1941
 
Herbert Claiborne Pell
Appointment: Feb 11, 1941
Presentation of Credentials: May 20, 1941
Termination of Mission: Hungary severed diplomatic relations with the United States Dec 11, 1941
 
Note: Hungary declared war on the US, Dec 13, 1941. Pell left post, Jan 16, 1942.
 
H.F. Arthur Schoenfeld
Appointment: Dec 15, 1945
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 26, 1946
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 1, 1947
 
Selden Chapin
Appointment: Apr 10, 1947
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 9, 1947
Termination of Mission: Declared persona non grata by Government of Hungary, Feb 11, 1949; left post Feb 17, 1949.
 
Nathaniel P. Davis
Appointment: Sep 1, 1949
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 21, 1949
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 18, 1951
 
Christian M. Ravndal
Appointment: Oct 3, 1951
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 11, 1952
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 5, 1956
 
Edward T. Wailes
Appointment: Jul 26, 1956
Note: Took oath of office and proceeded to post, but did not present credentials; left post, Feb 27, 1957.
Note: During 1957–1967 the following officers served as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim: Garret G. Ackerson, Jr. (Jul 1957–Feb 1961), Horace G. Torbert, Jr. (Feb. 1961–Dec 1962), Owen T. Jones (Dec 1962–Jul 1964), Elim O’Shaughnessy (Nov 1964–Sep 1966), and Richard W. Tims (Sep 1966–Oct 1967). Tims was serving as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim when Legation Budapest was raised to Embassy status Nov 28, 1966.
 
Martin J. Hillenbrand
Appointment: Sep 13, 1967
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 30, 1967
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 15, 1969
 
Alfred Puhan
Appointment: May 1, 1969
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 16, 1969
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 9, 1973
 
Richard F. Pedersen
Appointment: Jul 24, 1973
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 10, 1973
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 26, 1975
 
Eugene V. McAuliffe
Appointment: Mar 25, 1975
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 28, 1975
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 15, 1976
 
Philip M. Kaiser
Appointment: Jul 7, 1977
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 4, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 9, 1980
 
Harry E. Bergold, Jr.
Appointment: Mar 3, 1980
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 31, 1980
Termination of Mission: Left post, Nov 9 1983
 
Nicolas M. Salgo
Appointment: Oct 7, 1983
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 23, 1983
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 1, 1986
 
Robie Marcus Hooker Palmer
Appointment: Jul 24, 1986
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 8, 1986
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 31, 1990
 
Charles H. Thomas
Appointment: Jun 27, 1990
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 2, 1990
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 11, 1994
 
Donald M. Blinken
Appointment: Mar 28, 1994
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 1, 1994
Termination of Mission: Left post, Nov 20, 1997
 
Peter Francis Tufo
Appointment: Nov 10, 1997
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 3, 1997
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 1, 2001
 
Nancy Goodman Brinker
Appointment: Aug 7, 2001
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 26, 2001
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 19, 2003
 
George H. Walker
Appointment: Aug 4, 2003
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 6, 2003
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 6, 2006
 
 
April Foley
Appointment: July 5, 2006
Presentation of Credentials: August 18, 2006
Termination of Mission: April 2, 2009
 
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Hungary's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Szapary, Gyorgy

An economist by trade with extensive experience in international finance and banking, György Szapáry took over as Hungary’s ambassador to the United States in January 2011. This marks the first diplomatic post of his career.

 
The grandson of a former prime minister of Hungary, Szapáry was born Count György Szapáry de Muraszombath Szechysziget et Szapar on August 1, 1938, in Tiszabura, Hungary. He attended college in Hungary and Austria. He left Hungary in 1956, when the Soviet Union invaded the country, and completed his graduate studies at the University of Louvain in Belgium. There, he received his MA (1961) and his PhD (1966), both in economics. He was given Belgian citizenship as an exile.
 
His first job was at the University of Louvain, serving as a research assistant from1962 to 1964.
 
The following year he worked at the European Commission in Brussels, before moving on in 1966 to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, DC. He spent the next 27 years at the IMF, where his last position was senior resident representative in Hungary.
 
After the fall of communism in Hungary, Szapáry returned and regained his Hungarian citizenship.
 
From 1993 to 2007, Szapáry worked for the National Bank of Hungary, as vice-president, deputy governor, head of economics and monetary strategy and advisor to the president, and was a member of the rate-setting Monetary Council.
 
The next three years he was a member of the board of directors of OTP Bank, the largest Hungarian commercial bank. He resigned upon being appointed ambassador. He was also a visiting professor of economics at the Central European University in Budapest.
 
In June 2010, Szapáry was appointed chief economic policy advisor to Hungary’s prime minister and remained in this position until becoming ambassador to the U.S.
 
His other affiliations include serving as president of the board of directors for the International Training Centre for Bankers in Budapest from 1993-2001; a member of the board of the Budapest Commodity Exchange (1997-2001); member of the Euro 50 Group headed by Edmond Alphandéry, former French minister of economy (2001-2011); member of the Economic and Financial Committee of the European Commission and of the European Central Bank’s International Relations Committee (2004-2007); member of the Economic and Social Council, a consultative body of the Hungarian government (2004-2007); member of the Supervisory Board and Audit Committee of Telekom Hungary (March-December 2007); and member of a steering group on public finances in the EU, Bureau of European Policy Advisers, EU Commission, Brussels (2007-2008).
 
 
In 1965, Szapáry married Daniele Hélène Winckelmans. The couple has two sons. Szapáry is fluent in Hungarian, English and French.
 
Official CV (Embassy of Hungary)

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Hungary's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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U.S. Ambassador to Hungary

Kounalakis, Eleni
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Sometimes a political contributor can give handsomely to the losing side and still come out a winner. Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis is one such example. Daughter of a real estate tycoon and California political player, Tsakopoulos Kounalakis raised more than $1 million for Hillary Clinton during her 2008 primary battle with Barack Obama. But once Obama had all but locked up his party’s nomination, the Greek-American millionaire switched camps and supported the man who now has made her ambassador to Hungary. She was sworn in on January 7, 2010.

 
Tsakopoulos Kounalakis, 43, was raised in the Pocket neighborhood of Sacramento, where her father, Angelo Tsakopoulos, built a successful real estate business. She earned her undergraduate degree from Dartmouth (1989) and an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley (1992), before going to work for her father’s AKT Development Corporation in 1993.
 
As president of AKT, Tsakopoulos Kounalakis has overseen a land development company involved in real estate, farming, ranching, water and minerals projects throughout Northern and Central California. Her closeness to her father has extended beyond helping run the family business and into bankrolling statewide and national election campaigns.
 
Without the Tsakopouloses, Democrat Phil Angelides would have had a huge hole in his war chest for governor in 2006. A one-time business partner of Angelo Tsakopoulos, Angelides received nearly $5 million from the Tsakopoulses, including $1.25 million from Eleni. This largess was in addition to the more than $3 million Angelo Tsakopoulos contributed to Angelides’ earlier campaigns for state treasurer.
 
Tsakopoulos Kounalakis also has been a generous supporter of Democrats running for Congress and other national offices. Along with her husband, Markos Kounalakis (publisher of Washington Monthly magazine), whom she married in 2000, they have contributed $438,880 to federal candidates, committees and leadership PACs since 1989, according to OpenSecrets.org.
 
They also have been generous philanthropists, giving $1.2 million to Georgetown University to establish a chair in Hellenic studies in 2006, along with endowments at other institutions.
 
When not working on real estate or political campaigns, Tsakopoulos Kounalakis’ other interests have involved serving two terms as a California State World Trade Commissioner, as a trustee of Robert Redford’s Sundance Preserve, and being a part of the Conservation Fund’s National Forum on Children and Nature and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Council
 
The White House cited her “cross-cultural work with the World Council of Religions for Peace, for which she engaged in the diplomacy of global interfaith dialogue,” presumably to demonstrate Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis’ qualifications to serve as the United States’ top envoy to the government of Hungary, since her resume is largely absent of diplomatic experience.
 
Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis and her husband have two sons, Neo and Eon.
 

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Overview

Hungary occupies an area about the size of Indiana and enjoys a temperate climate. The country was has been a Christian nation since 1100 AD, and was a monarchy for more than 1,000 years. Hungary fought alongside Germany during both world wars. During the Second World War, it lost hundreds of thousands of its citizens, including many Jews and Roma, who were killed or deported by the Nazis. In January 1945, Hungary formed an armistice with Russia and fell under the USSR’s control for the latter half of the 20th Century. In 1956, a nationalistic revolution tried to pave the way for democracy, in which a more liberal climate, along with freedoms of the press, assembly and association were relaxed. The Soviets crushed the effort, but eventually, Hungary became one of the more liberal countries in the Soviet Eastern Bloc. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the country has endured severe financial problems due to privatization. However, it has undergone far-reaching economic and political reforms to enable its 2004 accession to the European Union.

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Basic Information

 

Lay of the Land: Occupying an area of93,030 sq. km. (35,910 sq. mi.), Hungary is about the size of Indiana. Its capital and largest city is Budapest; other important cities include Debrecen, Szeged, and Miskolc. The terrain is mostly flat, with low mountains in the north and northeast. It is a landlocked country; the main body of water is Lake Balaton in the south, as well as the Danube and Tisza Rivers. Its border countries are Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine, Austria, Slovenia, Serbia, and Croatia. The climate is temperate.                    
 
Population: 9.9 million
 
Religions: Roman Catholic 55%, Reformed Protestant 15%, Lutheran 3%, Greek Catholic 3%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 0.2%, non-religious 21.8%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Hungarian 02.3%, Roma 1.9%, other 5.8%.
 
Languages: Hungarian (official) 94%, German 2.5%, Romani (Balkan, Carpathian, Sinte, Vlax) 1.8%, Bavarian 1.7%, Romanian 1.0%, Slovak 0.1%, Slovenian 0.05%, Croatian 0.03%. 
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History

With roots as a “barbarian” tribe that settled the Danubian plain in the 900s, Hungary became a Christian nation with the conversion of King Steven in 1000. It endured lengthy and damaging invasions from the Tatars, the Ottoman Turks, and ultimately the Habsburgs; finally, after a bloody and unsuccessful revolution in 1848 during which Hungary’s national anthem was composed, the Habsburg Empire became a dual Austro-Hungarian monarchy in 1867. During the 1890s, Budapest, the capital of Hungary, underwent a period of growth and moved towards becoming a center of European culture, art, and architecture. The Austro-Hungarian monarchy ended with World War I, when Hungary was declared a republic and, through the Treaty of Trianon in 1923, lost nearly two-thirds of its territory as well as over half of its population.

 
In 1919, Hungary experienced a brief and bloody Communist dictatorship and counter-revolution. For 25 years afterward, Admiral Miklos Horthy ruled the country, in a period where Hungary moved further to the Fascist right, became increasingly dependent on Germany and underwent numerous financial crises.
 
During World War II, Hungary fought alongside its German allies, largely because of Germany’s offers to return land lost through the Treaty of Trianon, particularly Transylvania in Romania and Vojvodina in Yugoslavia. In the first years of the war, although anti-Semitic laws were passed, Jews were sent to work camps instead of death camps; Hungary had a larger and more tolerated Jewish population than the rest of Eastern Europe. The Nazis deposed Admiral Horthy in 1944, at which point over 500,000 Jews were sent to death camps, mostly at Auschwitz (which was build almost entirely to accommodate the large numbers of Hungarian Jews); however, the Jews of Budapest were forced to move to one of the city’s district, where they suffered hunger and street brutality.
 
On January 20, 1945, Hungary’s provisional government created an armistice with the Soviet Union, establishing the Allied Control Commission. This agreement gave Soviet, American and British representatives sovereignty over the country. A member of Joseph Stalin’s inner circle ran the commission and exercised complete control.
 
The Hungarian Communist Party (MKP), which had formed the majority of the provisional government, was replaced in November 1945 when elections passed power to the Independent Smallholders’ Party. Under this party, Hungary nationalized mines, electric plants, industries and some large banks. But clashes with Communist rivals led to the elections in 1947, which many believed were tainted by fraud. During these elections, the leftists regained power.
 
Shifts to Communist control in the Central and Eastern European bloc strained postwar relations between the Soviet Union and the West, although as evidenced by post-World War II negotiations, neither Britain nor the U.S. had invested interests in that region, or much will to defend it from soviet control. Thus, with support from the USSR, Mátyás Rákosi began to establish a Communist dictatorship in Hungary.
 
By February 1949, the MKP merged all of the country’s political parties together to form the Hungarian Workers’ Party. Later that year, the Communists held an election and adopted a constitution inspired by that of the Soviet Union’s. The Hungarian People’s Republic was formed in 1952, with Rákosi as prime minister.
 
Between 1948 and 1953, the Hungarian economy was reorganized. In 1949, the country joined the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA, or Comecon), a Soviet-bloc economic organization. Firms with more than 10 employees were nationalized, and freedom of the press, religion and assembly were all curtailed; the late 1940s and early 1950s in Hungary were characterized by politics of fear, with show trials, a ruthless secret police, and purges that punished the innocent for conspiring against the Workers’ Revolution. The head of the Roman Catholic Church and the Hungarian Catholic majority, Cardinal József Mindszenty, was sentenced to life imprisonment.
 
However, soviet central economic planning was not entirely successful, and not even strict censure of the population could keep the country’s situation under control. By the middle of 1953, when Stalin died, a “thaw” of sorts began to take place, called the post-Stalinist thaw. The new Soviet leaders blamed Rákosi for Hungary’s economic situation and began to brainstorm more flexible policy called the “New Course.” By the end of the year, Imre Nagy replaced Rákosi as prime minister. His policies moved Hungary away from collectivization and heavy industry, ended the political purges, and freed thousands of political prisoners.
 
In spite of these changes, the country’s economic situation continued to deteriorate. Rákosi disrupted many of the reforms and forced Nagy from power in 1955. Later that year, Hungary joined the Warsaw Pact Treaty Organization. But when Khrushchev denounced Stalin in 1956, any attempts by Rákosi to restore Stalin’s policies in Hungary were met with opposition. Shortly thereafter, Moscow replaced Rákosi with Ernô Gerô, his deputy.
 
On October 23, 1956, security forces fired on students in Budapest who were marching in support of Poland’s confrontation with the Soviet Union. This grew into a massive public uprising. Imre Nagy was named prime minister on October 25, helping to quell the fighting, and János Kádár was named as the party’s first secretary. Nagy dissolved the state security police, abolished the country’s one-party system, promised free elections, and negotiated with the USSR to withdraw its troops.
 
On November 1, Nagy announced Hungary’s neutrality and withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact. He appealed to the United Nations and the Western powers for protection of its neutrality. Preoccupied with the Suez Crisis, the UN and the West failed to respond, and the Soviet Union launched a massive military attack on Hungary on November 3. Some 200,000 Hungarians fled to the West. Nagy and his colleagues took refuge in the Yugoslav Embassy.
 
Kádár, who had vowed to fight the Russians with his bare hands if they attacked Hungary, defected from the Nagy cabinet and fled to the Soviet Union. He then returned to Budapest and, with Soviet support, carried out severe reprisals; thousands of people were executed or imprisoned. Despite a guarantee of safe conduct, Nagy was arrested and deported to Romania. In June 1958, the government announced that Nagy and other former officials had been executed.
 
In the early 1960s, Kádár announced a new policy that operated under the motto, “He who is not against us is with us.” He liberalized the cultural, economical, and political climate; the secret police was dissolved and the excessive paranoid censure of the Stalinist era came to an end. In 1966, the Central Committee approved the “New Economic Mechanism” designed to increase Hungary’s productivity and make it more competitive in worldwide markets. But these reforms did not go off as planned, and economic stagnation followed. Kadar’s government handled pressure from both sides over the next two decades, attempting to create a presence for Hungary in the marketplace.
 
By the early 1980s, Hungary achieved some lasting economic reforms, and began to follow a path of more open foreign policy by trading with the West. The New Economic Mechanism led to greater debt that had been incurred to shore up unprofitable industries.
 
Rising nationalism in Hungary brought the country closer to democracy, and by 1987, many were pressuring the government for change. Several groups began to develop into parties, including the Federation of Young Democrats (Fidesz), the Association of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), and the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF).
 
In 1988, Imre Pozsgay was admitted to the Politburo, and Kádár was replaced by Károly Grósz as general secretary of the MKP. During that year, Hungary’s parliament allowed freedom of association, assembly and the press, revising the constitution and paving the way for democracy.
 
Communist party membership continued to decline, and in February 1989, a Central Committee plenum endorsed a multi-party political system. Kádár’s political rivals pushed for democracy, and in April 1989, the Soviet Union signed an agreement to withdraw its forces by June 1991.
 
Nationalism continued to rise, and in June 1989, a consortium of representatives from the remaining parties met to discuss changes to the Hungarian constitution in preparation for the nation’s first free elections and the transition to democracy.
 
In October 1989, the Communist party re-established itself as the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) and adopted legislation calling for multi-party elections for parliament and a direct election for president. The country became known as the Republic of Hungary and began to guarantee human and civil rights, and to ensure the separation of the judicial, executive and legislative branches of the government.
 
The Hungarian constitution still retained some of the vestiges from the old order, giving equal status to public and private property. In May of 1990, the first free parliamentary election was held, and the Communists of the MSZP fared poorly. The Democratic Forum (MDF) won 43% of the vote, and the Free Democrats (SZDSZ) got 24%.
 
József Antall was elected prime minister, and the MDF formed a center-right coalition government with the Independent Smallholders’ Party (FKGP) and the Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) to command a 60% majority in the parliament. Opposing parties included the SZDSZ, the Socialists (MSZP), and the Alliance of Young Democrats (Fidesz).
 
Antall died in December 1993. He was succeeded by Pete Boross. The Antall/Boross coalition governments began to lay the foundation for a free market economy, and in May 1994, the socialists won the majority of votes, with 54% of the seats in parliament. The MSZP continued to enact economic reforms, including privatization and fiscal austerity, which came to be called the “Bokros plan,” in 1995.
 
Under Boross’s administration, Hungary formed a number of relationships with neighboring countries and Western countries. Hungary was invited to join NATO in 1997, and in the May elections, the Federation of Young Democrats (renamed Fidesz-Hungarian Civic Party (MPP) in 1995) captured a plurality of parliamentary seats and forged a coalition with the Smallholders and the Democratic Forum. The new government, headed by 35-year-old Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, promised to stimulate faster growth, curb inflation, and lower taxes.
 
In April 2002, Hungary voted to return the MSZP-Free Democrat coalition to power. Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy led the new government, placing its emphasis on solidifying Hungary’s Euro-Atlantic course. The country joined the European Union on May 1, 2004. 
 
Medgyessy resigned in August 2004 after losing coalition support. Ferenc Gyurcsany was selected to succeed Medgyessy in September 2004. In April 2006, Gyurcsány was re-elected, along with his socialist-liberal coalition. Currently, after Gyurcsány stepping down in March 2009 because of Hungary’s dire financial issues in the face of the recession, non-aligned former economic minister Gordon Bajnai has been elected the new prime minister.
 
History of Hungary (Wikipedia)
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Hungary's Newspapers
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History of U.S. Relations with Hungary

The first Hungarian to come to America, according to Hungarian traditions, was a man named Tyrker who traveled with the Viking Eric the Red on his epic journey to Newfoundland around the year 1000. 

 
Hungarians immigrated to America throughout the early colonial period. The first major wave came in the 1850s, as educated Hungarian men of the nobility who had supported the 1848 revolution fled, in fear of reprisals from the Austrian Hapsburgs. In the period leading up to World War I, another 700,000 ethnic Hungarians immigrated in search of economic opportunity. Although the restrictive Immigration Act of 1924 limited Hungarian Immigration to 1,000 per year, a number of Hungarians were accepted as refugees, including those fleeing the Nazis in the 1930s and the “Fifty-sixers,” Hungarians fleeing the dangerous political climate during and directly after the 1956 revolution.
 
After World War II, relations between the United States and Hungary were strained due to Soviet occupation of the Central and Eastern European bloc: Hungary had become part of the Eastern camp. In October 12, 1945, the two countries established full diplomatic relations before the Hungarian peace treaty was signed on February 10, 1947. After the Communist takeover in 1947-48, relations with the US became even more strained when the government nationalized US-owned property, and the operations of its legation were restricted.
 
US-Hungarian relations deteriorated particularly in 1956. Those revolting against the Communist regime were banking on the U.S.’s aid against the Soviets’ intervention, but since the U.S. was distracted by foreign interests elsewhere, the aid never came, and the Soviet intervention was bloody and very detrimental to the population’s morale. By 1966, the U.S. and Hungary exchanged ambassadors and brought about improving relations. In 1972, a consular convention agreed to provide consular protection to US citizens in Hungary.
 
In 1973, Hungary settled the nationalization claims of American citizens by signing a bilateral agreement, and in January 1978, the US returned the historic Crown of Saint Stephen, which had been held since the end of World War II.
 
Subsequently, the two nations enjoyed better relations, and in 1978, a bilateral trade agreement extended most-favored-nation status to Hungary. As Hungary removed itself from the Soviet Union’s control, the US offered assistance to establish a democratic system and new plan for developing a free market economy.
 
Between 1989 and 1993, the Support for East European Democracy (SEED) Act provided more than $136 million for economic restructuring and private sector development in Hungary.
 
The Hungarian-American Enterprise Fund has offered loans, equity capital, and technical assistance to promote private-sector development. The US government has provided expert and financial assistance for the development of modern and Western institutions in many policy areas, including national security, law enforcement, free media, environmental regulations, education, and health care.
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Current U.S. Relations with Hungary

Noted Hungarian-Americans

Peter Carl Goldmark – Hungarian-born engineer who developed long-playing (LP) microgroove 33-1/3 rpm vinyl phonograph disc
Ernô László – Hungarian-born dermatologist and founder of the Ernô László Institute
George Olah – Hungarian-born winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research in the generation and reactivity of carbocations via superacids
Charles Simonyi – Hungarian-born computer software executive who oversaw development of Microsoft’s office software; also dated Martha Stewart for 15 years
Victor Szebehely – Hungarian-born scientist whose research on orbital mechanics aided the construction of Apollo.
Albert Szent-Györgyi de Nagyrápolt – Hungarian-born winner of the 1937 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of Vitamin C
Leó Szilárd – Hungarian-born scientist who discovered the nuclear chain reaction
George von Békésy – Hungarian-born biophysicist and winner of the 1961 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for research on the function of the cochlea
Eugene Wigner – Hungarian-born winner of the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his contributions to the theory of the atomic nucleus and the elementary particles, particularly through the discovery and application of fundamental symmetry principles".
John Simon – Serbo-Hungarian critic; wrote reviews for New York magazine for over thirty years
Marcel Lajos Breuer – Hungarian-born architect and furniture designer, a master of Modernism
Keith Jarrett – Hungarian-American jazz icon
Tommy Ramone – Hungarian-American member of The Ramones
Miklós Rózsa – Hungarian-born film composer; won Oscars for his work in Spellbound (1945), A Double Life (1947), and Ben-Hur (1959).
Chris Jansing – Born Christine Kapostasy, American-born news correspondent for NBC in Los Angeles
Fiorello La Guardia – half-Hungarian mayor of New York from 1934 to 1945 who led New York’s recovery during the Great Depression
George Pataki – American-born Republican governor of New York (1995-2006)
Drew Barrymore – half-Hungarian American-born actress
Frank Darabont – Hungarian-American director of The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile
Joe Eszterhas – Hungarian-born screenwriter, best known for his work on Basic Instinct and Showgirls
George Pal - Hungarian-born director, producer, and cinematographer; worked on War of the Worlds and The Time Machine and is considered one of the pioneers of the sci-fi film genre
Vilmos Zsigmond - Hungarian-born cinematographer; Academy Award winner for Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Larry Csonka – Hungarian-American two-time Super Bowl champion; played running back and fullback for the Miami Dolphins; inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987
Al Hrabosky – American-born baseball player and sports newscaster, known as “The Mad Hungarian”
Mickey Hargitay – Hungarian-born bodybuilder, Mr. Universe 1955, and film personality; father of actress Mariska Hargitay
Karch Kiraly – American-born volleyball player; three-time Olympic gold medalist
Joe Namath – Hungarian-American quarterback and Super Bowl III champion; inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Charles Nagy – American-born baseball player; pitcher; three-time All-Star selection
Monica Seles – Serbian-Hungarian tennis player; member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame; former no. 1 tennis player in the world
Mariska Hargitay – American-born actress, best known for her role on TV’s Law and Order
 
Jewish Hungarians
Elie Wiesel – Jewish-Hungarian winner of the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize; best known for his books and memoirs on the Holocaust
Adrien Brody – American-born, Jewish-Hungarian actor; won Oscar in 2002 for Best Actor in The Pianist
Tony Curtis – American-born actor with Jewish-Hungarian parents
William Fox – Hungarian-born Jewish producer who founded 20th Century Fox
Paul Simon – Hungarian-American Jewish musician best known for his collaboration in the group Simon & Garfunkel
Calvin Klein – Hungarian-American Jewish fashion designer
Harry Houdini – Hungarian-American Jewish magician and entertainer, best known for his disappearing act
Joseph Pulitzer – Jewish-Hungarian publisher, best-known establishing “yellow journalism” along with Randolph Hearst and for posthumously establishing the Pulitzer Prize.
Edward Teller – Hungarian-born “father of the hydrogen bomb”
Sylvia Plachy – Hungarian-born Jewish photographer whose photo essays have appeared in The New York Magazine and The New Yorker, among other prolific periodicals; mother of actor Adrien Brody
Jamie Lee Curtis – American-born actress and children’s book author
George Cukor – American-born director of several classic films, such as The Philadelphia Story and My Fair Lady
Michael Curtiz – Born Manó Kertész Kaminer in Hungary, director of many successful films, such as Casablanca and Mildred Pierce
Adolph Zukor – Hungarian-born founder of Paramount Pictures
 
In 1999, when Hungary joined NATO, the country became a formal ally of the United States. The US government supported Hungary’s joining the European Union in 2004 and continues to work to establish an economic and political relationship.
 
In the 2000 census, 1,398,702 people identified themselves as being of Hungarian descent. The states with the largest Hungarian American populations are Ohio, New York, California, and New Jersey.
 
In 2006, 195,906 Americans visited Hungary. Tourism has grown steadily since 2002, when 133,873 Americans traveled to Hungary.
 
In 2006, 37,257 Hungarians visited the US. The number of tourists has fluctuated between a low of 31,984 (2003) and 37,308 (2005) in recent years.
 
United States & Hungary (Diplomacy Monitor)
US-Europe relations improving, but tensions remain (Richard Benedetto, USA TodayODAY)          
 
Hungarian-American Organizations
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Where Does the Money Flow

During 2003 to 2007, US imports from Hungary were dominated by computer accessories, averaging $650 million annually. Other top imports were electric apparatus and parts, which increased from $84 million to $173.5 million; measuring, testing and control instruments, increasing from $17.8 million to $106.8 million; telecommunications equipment, up from $36 million to $239 million; and passenger cars (new and used), increasing from $21 million (in 2006) to $177.3 million.

 
During the same time period, top US exports to Hungary included computer accessories, up from $59 million to $149 million; semiconductors, up from $45 million to $129 million; and industrial engines, up from $22 million to $102 million.
 
In 2007, the US gave Hungary $3.8 million in aid, divided between Foreign Military Financing ($2.4 million), and International Military Education and Training ($1.5 million). The 2008 budget estimate reduced aid to $2.1 million. The 2009 budget request will give Hungary $3.1 million, divided between Foreign Military Financing ($2 million), and International Military Education and Training ($1.1 million).
 
Hungary: Security Assistance (the US sold $11.9 million of defense articles and services to Hungary in 2007)
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Controversies

Blue Stream Pipeline Threatens to Derail Hungary’s Membership in EU

In March 2007, Hungary’s membership in the European Union was threatened when the country announced that it had agreed to a Russian proposal to extend the Blue Stream pipeline, which was created to transport natural gas to Hungary through Turkey and the Balkans. Critics, including US officials, said that the decision gave the nation preferential treatment and helped Russia gain a monopoly in the region (a big concern of the United States). Also, critics alleged that the pipeline sabotages the EU Nabucco pipeline, which is still in the planning stages. This pipeline was designed to circumvent Russian routes through the Caspian and Middle East. The Hungarian government defended its actions, saying that the Nabucco pipeline was nowhere near completion and would threaten delivery requirements.
Hungary: EU’s pipeline dream threatened (by Roman Kupchinsky, Spero News)
U.S.-Hungarian relations (Hungarian Spectrum)
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Human Rights

The State Department reports that Hungarian police used excessive force against suspects and charges of pro-government bias in state-owned media persisted. The perception of corruption in the executive and legislative branches increased as well. There continued to be manifestations of anti-Semitism, including vandalism. Violence against women and children as well as sexual harassment remained problems, as did trafficking in persons. Discrimination against Roma in education, housing, employment, and access to social services continued to be widespread.

 
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) continued to report that police harassed and used excessive force against suspects, particularly Roma. Reports of police abuse of Roma again increased somewhat during the year, but NGOs considered the increase to reflect increasing willingness of Roma to report such abuses.
 
Human rights and Romani organizations claimed that Roma received unequal treatment in the judicial process. Although the law prohibits official segregation of children by ethnicity or nationality, segregation of Romani children remained a problem. The unemployment rate for Roma was estimated at 70 percent, more than 10 times the national average, and most Roma lived in extreme poverty.
 
During the year police were implicated in a number of criminal acts, including corruption, theft, robbery, rape, bribery, and kidnapping. The ensuing scandals led to the dismissals of the Hungarian National Police (HNP) chief, the chief of the Budapest police, and the head of the Law Enforcement Security Service (REBISZ). The minister of justice and law enforcement resigned. In the same month, the head of the National Security Office (NBH) also resigned following scandals involving the intelligence and security services.
 
There is no jury system; judges are final arbiters. Judicial proceedings generally are investigative rather than adversarial. Counsel is appointed for persons in need, but public defenders were generally considered to be substandard.
The Jewish population numbered an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 persons, or less than 1% of the population. During the year anti-Semitic incidents, including vandalism, continued. Jewish community representatives contended that there had been an increase in anti-Semitism compared to 2006, particularly in the form of severe verbal assaults during antigovernment demonstrations.
 
The law prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, disability, or social status; however, in practice, widespread discrimination persisted, particularly against Roma. Violence against women, child abuse, and trafficking in persons were also problems.
 
The law does not specifically prohibit domestic violence or spousal abuse. The general charge of assault and battery, which carries a maximum prison term of eight years, is used to prosecute domestic violence cases. Expert research in the field of family violence indicated that an estimated 20% of women in the country had been physically assaulted or victimized by domestic violence. Prosecution for domestic violence was rare.
 
According to the National Police, 2,593 women were reported to be victims of domestic violence during the year, compared to 4,620 in 2006; however, most incidents of domestic violence went unreported due to fear and shame on the part of victims.
 
There were reports that persons were trafficked to, from, and within the country. Victims were trafficked primarily for sexual exploitation, but there were also reports of trafficking for domestic servitude and manual labor. The principal countries of origin were Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine, Moldova, Poland, the Balkans, and China. The principal destinations were Austria, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, France, Switzerland, and the United States. There were also reports of trafficking to Central America, Mexico, the Scandinavian countries, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Internal trafficking of women for sexual exploitation occurred.
 
Homosexuality is legal, but on one occasion right-wing groups subjected homosexuals to physical abuse.
 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

 

 
U. Grant-Smith
Appointment: [see note below]
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 24, 1922
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 28, 1922
Note: Not commissioned; letter of credence dated Dec 27, 1921. Legation Budapest had been established Dec 26, 1921, on which date Grant-Smith had been granted provisional recognition as Chargé d’Affaires.
 
Theodore Brentano
Appointment: Feb 10, 1922
Presentation of Credentials: May 16, 1922
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 6, 1927
 
J. Butler Wright
Appointment: Feb 26, 1927
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 18, 1927
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Oct 24, 1930
 
Nicholas Roosevelt
Appointment: Sep 29, 1930
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 12, 1930
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 9, 1933
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 16, 1930. Related to both Theodore and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
 
John Flournoy Montgomery
Appointment: Jun 13, 1933
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 1, 1933
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 17, 1941
 
Herbert Claiborne Pell
Appointment: Feb 11, 1941
Presentation of Credentials: May 20, 1941
Termination of Mission: Hungary severed diplomatic relations with the United States Dec 11, 1941
 
Note: Hungary declared war on the US, Dec 13, 1941. Pell left post, Jan 16, 1942.
 
H.F. Arthur Schoenfeld
Appointment: Dec 15, 1945
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 26, 1946
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 1, 1947
 
Selden Chapin
Appointment: Apr 10, 1947
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 9, 1947
Termination of Mission: Declared persona non grata by Government of Hungary, Feb 11, 1949; left post Feb 17, 1949.
 
Nathaniel P. Davis
Appointment: Sep 1, 1949
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 21, 1949
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 18, 1951
 
Christian M. Ravndal
Appointment: Oct 3, 1951
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 11, 1952
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 5, 1956
 
Edward T. Wailes
Appointment: Jul 26, 1956
Note: Took oath of office and proceeded to post, but did not present credentials; left post, Feb 27, 1957.
Note: During 1957–1967 the following officers served as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim: Garret G. Ackerson, Jr. (Jul 1957–Feb 1961), Horace G. Torbert, Jr. (Feb. 1961–Dec 1962), Owen T. Jones (Dec 1962–Jul 1964), Elim O’Shaughnessy (Nov 1964–Sep 1966), and Richard W. Tims (Sep 1966–Oct 1967). Tims was serving as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim when Legation Budapest was raised to Embassy status Nov 28, 1966.
 
Martin J. Hillenbrand
Appointment: Sep 13, 1967
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 30, 1967
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 15, 1969
 
Alfred Puhan
Appointment: May 1, 1969
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 16, 1969
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 9, 1973
 
Richard F. Pedersen
Appointment: Jul 24, 1973
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 10, 1973
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 26, 1975
 
Eugene V. McAuliffe
Appointment: Mar 25, 1975
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 28, 1975
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 15, 1976
 
Philip M. Kaiser
Appointment: Jul 7, 1977
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 4, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 9, 1980
 
Harry E. Bergold, Jr.
Appointment: Mar 3, 1980
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 31, 1980
Termination of Mission: Left post, Nov 9 1983
 
Nicolas M. Salgo
Appointment: Oct 7, 1983
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 23, 1983
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 1, 1986
 
Robie Marcus Hooker Palmer
Appointment: Jul 24, 1986
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 8, 1986
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 31, 1990
 
Charles H. Thomas
Appointment: Jun 27, 1990
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 2, 1990
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 11, 1994
 
Donald M. Blinken
Appointment: Mar 28, 1994
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 1, 1994
Termination of Mission: Left post, Nov 20, 1997
 
Peter Francis Tufo
Appointment: Nov 10, 1997
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 3, 1997
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 1, 2001
 
Nancy Goodman Brinker
Appointment: Aug 7, 2001
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 26, 2001
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 19, 2003
 
George H. Walker
Appointment: Aug 4, 2003
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 6, 2003
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 6, 2006
 
 
April Foley
Appointment: July 5, 2006
Presentation of Credentials: August 18, 2006
Termination of Mission: April 2, 2009
 
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Hungary's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Szapary, Gyorgy

An economist by trade with extensive experience in international finance and banking, György Szapáry took over as Hungary’s ambassador to the United States in January 2011. This marks the first diplomatic post of his career.

 
The grandson of a former prime minister of Hungary, Szapáry was born Count György Szapáry de Muraszombath Szechysziget et Szapar on August 1, 1938, in Tiszabura, Hungary. He attended college in Hungary and Austria. He left Hungary in 1956, when the Soviet Union invaded the country, and completed his graduate studies at the University of Louvain in Belgium. There, he received his MA (1961) and his PhD (1966), both in economics. He was given Belgian citizenship as an exile.
 
His first job was at the University of Louvain, serving as a research assistant from1962 to 1964.
 
The following year he worked at the European Commission in Brussels, before moving on in 1966 to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, DC. He spent the next 27 years at the IMF, where his last position was senior resident representative in Hungary.
 
After the fall of communism in Hungary, Szapáry returned and regained his Hungarian citizenship.
 
From 1993 to 2007, Szapáry worked for the National Bank of Hungary, as vice-president, deputy governor, head of economics and monetary strategy and advisor to the president, and was a member of the rate-setting Monetary Council.
 
The next three years he was a member of the board of directors of OTP Bank, the largest Hungarian commercial bank. He resigned upon being appointed ambassador. He was also a visiting professor of economics at the Central European University in Budapest.
 
In June 2010, Szapáry was appointed chief economic policy advisor to Hungary’s prime minister and remained in this position until becoming ambassador to the U.S.
 
His other affiliations include serving as president of the board of directors for the International Training Centre for Bankers in Budapest from 1993-2001; a member of the board of the Budapest Commodity Exchange (1997-2001); member of the Euro 50 Group headed by Edmond Alphandéry, former French minister of economy (2001-2011); member of the Economic and Financial Committee of the European Commission and of the European Central Bank’s International Relations Committee (2004-2007); member of the Economic and Social Council, a consultative body of the Hungarian government (2004-2007); member of the Supervisory Board and Audit Committee of Telekom Hungary (March-December 2007); and member of a steering group on public finances in the EU, Bureau of European Policy Advisers, EU Commission, Brussels (2007-2008).
 
 
In 1965, Szapáry married Daniele Hélène Winckelmans. The couple has two sons. Szapáry is fluent in Hungarian, English and French.
 
Official CV (Embassy of Hungary)

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Hungary's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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U.S. Ambassador to Hungary

Kounalakis, Eleni
ambassador-image

Sometimes a political contributor can give handsomely to the losing side and still come out a winner. Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis is one such example. Daughter of a real estate tycoon and California political player, Tsakopoulos Kounalakis raised more than $1 million for Hillary Clinton during her 2008 primary battle with Barack Obama. But once Obama had all but locked up his party’s nomination, the Greek-American millionaire switched camps and supported the man who now has made her ambassador to Hungary. She was sworn in on January 7, 2010.

 
Tsakopoulos Kounalakis, 43, was raised in the Pocket neighborhood of Sacramento, where her father, Angelo Tsakopoulos, built a successful real estate business. She earned her undergraduate degree from Dartmouth (1989) and an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley (1992), before going to work for her father’s AKT Development Corporation in 1993.
 
As president of AKT, Tsakopoulos Kounalakis has overseen a land development company involved in real estate, farming, ranching, water and minerals projects throughout Northern and Central California. Her closeness to her father has extended beyond helping run the family business and into bankrolling statewide and national election campaigns.
 
Without the Tsakopouloses, Democrat Phil Angelides would have had a huge hole in his war chest for governor in 2006. A one-time business partner of Angelo Tsakopoulos, Angelides received nearly $5 million from the Tsakopoulses, including $1.25 million from Eleni. This largess was in addition to the more than $3 million Angelo Tsakopoulos contributed to Angelides’ earlier campaigns for state treasurer.
 
Tsakopoulos Kounalakis also has been a generous supporter of Democrats running for Congress and other national offices. Along with her husband, Markos Kounalakis (publisher of Washington Monthly magazine), whom she married in 2000, they have contributed $438,880 to federal candidates, committees and leadership PACs since 1989, according to OpenSecrets.org.
 
They also have been generous philanthropists, giving $1.2 million to Georgetown University to establish a chair in Hellenic studies in 2006, along with endowments at other institutions.
 
When not working on real estate or political campaigns, Tsakopoulos Kounalakis’ other interests have involved serving two terms as a California State World Trade Commissioner, as a trustee of Robert Redford’s Sundance Preserve, and being a part of the Conservation Fund’s National Forum on Children and Nature and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Council
 
The White House cited her “cross-cultural work with the World Council of Religions for Peace, for which she engaged in the diplomacy of global interfaith dialogue,” presumably to demonstrate Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis’ qualifications to serve as the United States’ top envoy to the government of Hungary, since her resume is largely absent of diplomatic experience.
 
Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis and her husband have two sons, Neo and Eon.
 

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