A five member bipartisan Congressional delegation, led by Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Europe, paid a visit to Budapest on February 23-25.
Members of the delegation included Ranking Member Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Congressman Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-FL) and Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL).
The delegation met with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Foreign Minister János Martonyi and State Secretary Gergely Prőhle, Minister without Portfolio Tamás Fellegi, Central Bank Governor András Simor, Ministry for National Economy State Secretary Gyula Pleschinger, members of the Hungarian Parliament as well as the American Chamber of Commerce. The Members also met with civil society representatives, including Gábor Iványi of the Hungarian Evangelical Church, Slomó Köves of the United Hungarian Israelite Community (Chabad), Gábor Klinger of the LDS Church, Balázs Dénes from HCLU, Ádám Földes from Transparency International and Márta Pardavi from the Helsinki Committee.
During their extensive meetings, the Representatives discussed the state of the European Union's economy, the Euro crisis and its effect on the transatlantic economic sphere, Hungary's ongoing negotiations with the IMF and the EU, as well as bilateral issues and Hungary's recent constitutional reforms. Click here to view photos of the trip.
In the company of more than 30 rabbis, representing the American Jewish Community, the Congressional delegation also participated at a wreath-laying ceremony organized by the U.S. Embassy at Raoul Wallenberg's statue. Congressman Burton, in his remarks, expressed his deep respect and appreciation of the heroism of the Swedish diplomat, who saved the lives of thousands of Hungarian Jews. Congressman Meeks in his speech highlighted the importance of Wallenberg's personal leadership in defending human rights and protecting human lives in the most difficult times, he also highlighted H.R. 3001, a recently introduced bill co-sponsored by the Congressman to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Raoul Wallenberg.
In his remarks, State Secretary Péter Sztáray highlighted the series of events organized by the Hungarian government this year to celebrate the 100h anniversary of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg. He said that "The fate of this courageous rescuer encapsulates the tragedy of the 20th century: Wallenberg fought against a dictatorship and consequently disappeared in the prisons of another totalitarian power, the Soviet communist regime." During their trip, the members also paid a visit to the Ronald Reagan statue on Liberty Square erected last year as part of the Hungarian Reagan Centennial events.