News | Press Releases 2014

Annual Gala Dinner Honors Congressman Tom Lantos, Bishop László Tőkés and the Hungarian Communion of Friends (Magyar Baráti Közösség)

Washington DC, On May 29, 2014, the Hungarian American Coalition (Coalition) hosted its tenth annual Gala Dinner at the House of Sweden.  His Excellency János Áder, President of Hungary was Honorary Chairman of this year ’s event.  With 161 guests this was the best-attended Coalition Gala ever.

This year’s honorees were the late Congressman Tom Lantos, Bishop László Tőkés and the Hungarian Communion of Friends (Magyar Baráti Közösség).  The Coalition also celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain and the proclamation of Hungary as a free, democratic republic.

Coalition Vice President Andrea Lauer Rice welcomed the distinguished guests, including Ambassador George H. Walker, III, Ambassador György Szapáry, Ambassador János Csák, Ambassador Károly Dán and Congressman Dennis Ross.  Other prominent guests included Ambassador Kurt Volker; Dr. Tamás Fellegi, President and CEO of The Hungary Initiatives Foundation; the Honorable Mrs. Annette Lantos; Ambassador Dick Swett and Mrs. Katrina Lantos Swett; Mrs. Edith K. Lauer, Chair Emerita of the Coalition; László Hámos, President of the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation (HHRF); Dr. Lee Edwards, Chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation; Hungarian Government Commissioner András Batta; Dr. Peter Kovalszki, President of Magyar Baráti Közösség; friends of the Coalition including Mr. and Mrs. Blaise Pásztory, Mr. and Mrs. Calvin Cafritz, Mr. and Mrs. John Lipsky and the Honorable Aniko Gaal Schott.  Also in attendance were representatives from Ukrainian American organizations and Mr. Pavel Khodorkovsky, President of the Institute of Modern Russia.

Following Mrs. Lauer Rice’s remarks, Coalition President Max Teleki pointed out that in addition to the 25th anniversary of the end of communist rule in Central Europe, this year Hungary also celebrates the 15th anniversary of its accession to the NATO and the 10th anniversary its EU membership. Mr. Teleki also recalled the historic importance of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, quoting the late Chancellor Helmut Kohl: “The Hungarians knocked the first brick out of the Berlin Wall.”

Mr. Teleki honored Ms. Alexandra Chalupa of the US-Ukraine Foundation, who works closely with the Coalition on the US-Ukraine Crisis Team, for her devotion to her community and to Central European solidarity in the struggle for Ukraine’s future.  Finally, Mr. Teleki stated that the West has a moral duty to stand up for Ukraine and urged the United States and NATO to take more action.

Mrs. Annette Tilleman-Dick, Max Teleki, Amb. Walker, Mrs.  Annette Lantos, László Hámos and Katrina Lantos Swett. Photo by Kevin Allen 

After dinner, awards were presented to the honorees.  László Hámos gave a heartfelt laudation in memory of the late Congressman Tom Lantos, whose principled commitment to human rights and democracy in Hungary and the nations behind the Iron Curtain promoted the emergence of freedom and democracy in Eastern Europe.

Coalition Chairman of the Board Dr. Péter Forgách introduced the Hungarian Communion of Friends (Magyar Baráti Közösség) as this year’s second honoree.  Mr. Forgách praised Magyar Baráti Közösség (MBK) for its historic contribution to promoting the emergence of democracy in Hungary: over the years, MBK provided a forum and practical support for democratic opposition and minority rights behind the Iron Curtain.  The award was accepted by MBK President Dr. Peter Kovalszki.

Chairman Emerita of the Hungarian American Coalition Edith K. Lauer introduced the third honoree, Bishop László Tőkés, who received the award for his courageous advocacy of the human and collective rights of Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin. Mrs. Lauer highlighted the long-standing cooperation of Bishop Tőkés with the HHRF and the Coalition.  In accepting the award, Bishop Tőkés thanked Hungarian-Americans for their decades of support of the rights of Hungarian minorities in the Carpathian Basin.

During the awards presentation, short videos of the honorees, prepared by Ms. Réka Pigniczky and Mrs. Andrea Lauer Rice, received several rounds of applause.

The text of the remarks of Max Teleki, László Hámos, Dr. Peter Forgach, Edith Lauer and Bishop László Tőkés are available at the Coalition’s home page.

Prior to the Gala Dinner, the Coalition sponsored a full solo concert by world famous soprano Andrea Rost at the Warner Theatre.  An enthusiastic audience listened to well-known opera arias and Hungarian folk songs.  Ms. Rost was accompanied by Hungarian-Canadian pianist Gergely Szokolay, who also presented solo works by Bartók, Debussy, Rachmaninoff and R. Strauss.

Ms. Rost’s concert and Gala Dinner was made possible by generous donations from The Hungary Initiatives Foundation, Centene Corporation, John and Edith Lauer and the Charles Simonyi Foundation for the Arts and Sciences.

The Coalition expresses its sincere thanks to the interns whose contributions behind the scenes greatly assisted the event’s success: Zita Mirk, Eszter Vadas, Noemi Banhidi, and Anita Mustos.

About the Andrea Rost concert in the media:

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