Runaway Spoon

Hungary Seeks Center Stage

March 22, 2017

Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártò (Photo by: Hungarian Embassy) Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártò

Hungary strives to be a major leading diplomatic player on the world stage, especially in the new administration of President Trump.

So to that end, on Tuesday afternoon, Hungary’s Ambassador Dr. Réka Szemerkényi and Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártò, officially dedicated that country’s new embassy mansion almost in the center of DC, just blocks from the White House and Executive Offices.

“I believe that the history of this European Beaux-Arts architectural style building is a symbolic connection that binds the United States and Hungary together,” said Ambassador Szemerkényi. 

Watching the ribbon cutting outside (Photo by: Hungarian Embassy) Watching the ribbon cutting outside

 In the “new world order ... and a new start in the relationship between Hungary and the U.S,” Minister Szijjártò said,  “….we look forward to cooperation” with the Administration on all levels, including economic and in the fight against terrorism. “We cross our fingers for Donald Trump” to make the United States a safe place, a great place.” Such measures, he said, will make the whole world safer.  

“Let’s make the Hungarian and United States relationship great again, he said.

He also said that President Trump is right about fighting ISIS, and  pointed out that his country has sent troops to fight ISIS. 

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa., stressed that a strong bond must be forged and kept between the Hungary and the United States. Congratulatory letters on the new embassy came from, among others, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Mark Warner and Sen. Dianne Feinstein.   Sentiment among many is that previous U.S. administrations put Hungary on the back burner diplomatically.

Rep. Steve King (Photo by: Hungarian Embassy) Rep. Steve King

The old embassy -- referred to by many as the Hungarian bunker or Communist Bunker -- was set up during the Soviet Union’s domination of Eastern Europe.  The so-described bunker is a couple of miles away in a relatively hard-to-find wooded area near Rock Creek Park where deer and raccoons are plentiful.  The ex-embassy will be retained for office space.

The renovated mansion, built in 1879, at 1500 Rhode Island Ave., NW now serves as the main Hungarian headquarters. It is a masterful place for important meetings, seminars and cultural activities. Telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell once lived there.

As one knowledgeable guest put it: “Hungary wants to be in the major leagues,” and this move will help make that happen.  In the recent past, he said, Hungary was pretty much off the radar screen when it came to status in the nation’s capital.

The new  home of the Hungarian Embassy (Photo by: Hungarian Embassy) The new home of the Hungarian Embassy

Several hundred invited guests attended the ribbon-cutting ceremonies, including  Sebastian Gorka, of Hungarian ancestry and a counter-terrorism advisor to President Trump.  Also attending were ambassadors from Angola, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Luxemburg, Mali, Monaco, Montenegro, Peru and Serbia. Officials from Belarus, Cambodia, Georgia and Slovak Republic also attended.

D.C. interior designer Aniko Gaal Schott consulted in making the ballrooms culturally classy with soft hues, easy mingling spaces and comfortable seating. Christine Meyers restored a centerpiece – a ceiling mural in the midst of the mansion.

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Secretary Madeleine Albright Makes CARE Pitch for Refugees

March 19, 2017

Making the case for more refugees to be permitted into the USA, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said she has driven across the nation “and it’s a very large country … we have a lot of room.”

Michelle Nunn (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Michelle Nunn

She was a key panelist at the Helene D. Gayle Global Development Symposium on Thursday in Washington, D.C. Gayle is the former CEO of CARE and is succeeded by Michelle Nunn.

Overall, Albright said she is “very disappointed” at some of the actions in the Trump Administration, including deep budget cuts in the State Department as well as slowness in accepting refugees from war-torn areas.

The purpose of the CARE-sponsored symposium was to raise awareness for the need for advancement of women and girls around the world to defeat poverty and achieve social justice.

“I am very worried about what is happening here,” said Albright about the cuts in the State Department programs that might affect aid programs as well as federal funding for Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), which she said covers the plight of  economically disadvantaged people around the world.

“One ray of hope is Dina Powell,” in the new administration said Albright, who also is a professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. 

Charlayne Hunter-Gault (left) & Helene D. Gayle (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Charlayne Hunter-Gault (left) & Helene D. Gayle

Powell has been promoted from advising first daughter Ivanka Trump on women’s empowerment issues, to the National Security Council, where she will become deputy national security adviser for strategy. She will keep her role advising the President on economic initiatives. Powell headed the White House Personnel Office under President George W. Bush.

Albright, who served as Secretary of State in the Bill Clinton Administration, urged top brass to do what she did when budget cuts loomed.  She called the President directly to plead her case. 

Echoing Albright’s concerns were news anchor/civil rights activist Charlayne Hunter-Gault and CARE’s CEO Michelle Nunn. CARE, headquartered in Atlanta, Ga.,  is an international humanitarian agency.  A portion of its budget for aid projects is federally funded.

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Palm Beach Political Consultants Launch Firm Near Winter White House

March 12, 2017

Long-time Washington-area political consultant Daryl Glenney, a Georgetown University alumna, has launched a new firm in Palm Beach, Fla.,  to encourage more women to run for – and win – public office. Her partners are former West Palm Beach Mayor Nancy Graham and Palm Beacher Carla Cove.

Former West Palm Beach Mayor Nancy Graham (Photo by: Winning Women Florida) Former West Palm Beach Mayor Nancy Graham

Winning Women Florida, headquartered just a stone’s throw away from the Winter White House in Palm Beach, plans to recruit women for a series of nonpartisan workshops that will equip them to play a variety of roles in the political process.

Glenney has been a political consultant since 1974, handling more than 400 campaigns in 17 states and working with political parties in several countries.  She has designed and conducted political advocacy training for women in the U.S. and Canada, and in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.

“Many municipalities have a history of electing women,” says Glenney.  “But that’s not the case across Florida or in most parts of the country. Only 25% of Florida representatives and 30% of State senators are women.  Even fewer women get to Congress, where 19% of House seats and 21% of Senate seats are held by women. If we can help even a few women take the first step toward Town Hall, Tallahassee or Washington, that’s a win for all of us.”

The Winning Women Florida team also includes Palm Beacher Carla Cove, a former wealth management professional who has been active in local politics. She notes that Winning Women Florida workshops will teach not only campaigning skills, but how to make critical decisions once in office.  “Just getting women into office isn’t enough,” says Cove. “We want to make sure that women appreciate that they are stewards of taxpayer dollars. Studies indicate that even well-educated women are not confident that they are prepared to make these kinds of financial decisions.”

Carla Cove (Photo by: Winning Women Florida) Carla Cove

Nancy Graham, the third team member, is a former Mayor of West Palm Beach who, as she says, has walked in the shoes of both a candidate and an officeholder.  She warns, “Sometimes, in being sensitive to community needs, we fall into the trap of trying to make everyone happy. Yes, you have to listen – and really hear – what constituents are saying. But then you have to weigh what people want against the reality of what is actually possible. That’s hard to decide, and can be even harder to explain to constituents.”

In addition to their training programs, Glenney, Cove and Graham will continue to work together as consultants to political campaigns for both men and women candidates.  Contact: Winning Women Florida, 561.868.8835.



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