Make Way For The Hungarians
Outta the woods and into the mainstream. Here come the Hungarians.
A post-inaugural reception the day after President Donald J. Trump took the oath of office drew transition team representatives and members of Congress to the future home of the Hungarian embassy.
It was a high-regard tip of the hat to the new Trump Administration. Even, a Hungarian dog showed love. Rep. Don Bacon, R-Nebraska, said he got a “juicy, warm kiss” from the big Komondor dog named Chauncy at the entrance.
It was far more than symbolism. Speaker after speaker, including the Hungarian ambassador, Dr. Réka Szemerkényi, spoke of their beliefs – not unwarranted -- that economic and cultural ties between the two countries will get stronger under the Trump Administration.
To be expected, since the Trump family has roots in Eastern and Central Europe. First Lady Melania Trump is Slovenia-born. The President’s paternal side is German stock. His three oldest children have Czech heritage.
Hungary’s embassy is moving its official digs out of a hard-to-find wooded place near Rock Creek Park. Its new location is a huge mansion on Rhode Island NW between 15th and 16th streets near Scott Circle.
The mansion is still a work in progress, with the name of the old tenant, American Coatings Association, yet remaining outside. The clues to the days ahead are evident: The Hungarian flag flies overhead. A statue of a Freedom Fighter with the engraving “Budapest 1956” is at the front.
The subtle, beautifully decorated reception rooms speak of elegant Old World class. Appropriately so, a string band played soft music at the reception. YES! guests could hear one another. The cuisine was the center of attention, with smoked salmon, scrambled eggs cooked perfectly; hearty bacon strips, breads, quiche, desserts, and more.
To raise its diplomatic profile in the Trump Administration, in Congress, and around town, the embassy is planning concerts, seminars, and other get-togethers at its new location.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said that after Hungary came out from under the yoke of communism, many consider Hungary “the gold standard of Europe….President Trump opens the door for all of us. We look forward to working with his administration.”
Former New York Gov. George Pataki, of Hungarian descent, praised the fresh start. “Hungary has always been a great friend of the United States…But “sadly,” he said, the U.S. has not always been a great friend to Hungary. “But that will change,” predicted Pataki, a Republican. Adding: “This new administration, just as Hungary has, will control its borders.”
Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., also said he, too, foresees deeper cooperation between the two countries. Travelling specifically to D.C. for the reception was Deputy Assistant Secretary Kristof Altusz of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary.
Others attending included Piodtr Wilczek of Poland, Amb. Petr Kmec of Slovakia, DCM Zdenek Beranek of the Czech Republic, European Union Ambassador to the USA David O'Sullivan, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., and former Sen. Larry Pressler, R-S.D. Both Blackburn and Nunes are on the Trump transition team, as were other attendees from the president's presidential campaign.
Others among the 400 guests were American Heritage VP and head of personnel transition in State Department James Carafano former FBI Director William Webster and event planner Lynda Webster; and PEN/Faulker Foundation executive VP Willee Lewis and journalist Findley Lewis.
Rep. French Hill, R-Ark) a member of the Hungarian-American Caucus, spoke at an evening concert at the embassy.