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).