Letter to President Bush by Maximilian Teleki, President HAC - July 22, 2006

Letter to President Bush, June 22, 2006 by Maximilian N. Teleki, President HAC


Hungarian American Coalition
1120 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 280, Washington, D.C. 20036, U.S.A.

June 22, 2006

George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, D.C.

Dear President Bush:

Your visit to Budapest to pay homage to the spirit of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution is deeply appreciated by members of the Hungarian American Coalition, and by the whole Hungarian American community. Some of us were fortunate to hear you speak at the Congressional commemoration on March 15th of the historic Hungarian revolutions of 1848, 1956, and 1989. You commended Hungarians for our universal desire to gain freedom, and reminded all of us how other nations continue to share that aspiration to this day.

Although, this week, your visit is limited to Hungary, your message will also be appreciated in the historic Hungarian communities in the neighboring countries of Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine and Serbia. Many Hungarians there who shared the hopes and dreams of the 1956 Revolution paid a high price – systematic persecution, years of imprisonment, and in some cases death – for supporting the goals of the 1956 Revolution. The worst campaigns of discrimination and persecution against ethnic Hungarians were unleashed, not coincidentally, in 1957, by the communist governments of Romania, Slovakia, the former USSR, and former Yugoslavia. They realized they had a free hand to deny the human rights of Hungarians who dared to rebel against the Soviet Union.

We Hungarians will be forever grateful for the generosity shown by the United States in welcoming 30,000 of the more than 200,000 Hungarian refugees who escaped after the Revolution. These immigrants soon became proud American citizens; many made important contributions, as outstanding scientists, artists, writers, and teachers, to their American communities.

Together with a genuine American patriotism, many of us Hungarian Americans retain a strong sense of our Hungarian identity. In the United States, this is no contradiction: American citizens know that a diverse society of many ethnic components, each with their own history, can serve to strengthen and enrich our common American identity.

As the countries of East Central Europe continue to rebuild their economies and societies in the European mold, it is crucial that they, too, learn to respect diversity and restore the democratic structures and institutions that make it possible for many ethnic communities to live together in mutual understanding. Hungarian minorities in Central Europe continue to look to the United States as the traditional champion of freedom and democracy. They hope for principled involvement by the United States as they seek to regain their confiscated cultural, educational and religious institutions.

President Bush: as you commend the Hungarian nation for its historic stand against tyranny, please keep in mind the Hungarian minority communities outside the borders of Hungary who are also part of the Hungarian nation. They work tirelessly and peacefully, often as second-class citizens within their respective countries, to restore and promote the very democratic values which the United States is committed to uphold around the world. Their struggle, while less dramatic than the freedom fight of 1956, is about the same thing: to restore the dignity of the individual and the pride of national community in societies that were, for far too long, distorted and ruined by communist ideology.

Today, the U.S. continues its important mission of support for democracies in transition and strengthening transatlantic relations with an expanding Europe. We urge you to keep the democratic aspirations of the Hungarian minorities as a priority issue of U.S. relations in the region. The memory of the 1956 Hungarian revolution deserves nothing less.


Maximilian N. Teleki

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