EXECUTIVE LECTURE FORUM: Activities: 2000: Abstract:

April 6, 2000

Ambassador Géza Jeszenszky, Ambassador of Hungary to the U.S.

Ambassador Géza Jeszenszky gave a historical overview of the emergence of Eastern Europe from the yoke of Communism for our ELF members, invited university students and faculty, and members of the Mississippi Department of Economic and Community Development.   His lecture helped all of us to understand why, in the post-Communist era, and in the world at large, humans still inflict atrocities on one another under the pretext of ethnic and religious reason.  The disintegration of the Communist empire was accompanied by the atrocities in Bosnia, Kosova and now Chechnya.  However, other captive nations, such as Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, the Baltic States, and the Central Asian Republics, regained their freedom and independence, and have emerged with new economic potential.

Integration, emphasized Ambassador Jeszenszky, must come through a democracy of self government, including the responsibility for one's own affairs.  Democracy at the local level, as in the U.S., is a key element in allowing ethnic enclaves to run their own affairs without undue influence from the outside.  The ambassador believes that the emerging nations should keep their customs, languages, and educational systems which Communism tried to destroy.  The Central and East European countries are making progress.  Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia have not only "seen the light at the end of the tunnel," but are already out of the tunnel.   Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Ukraine still need to achieve political as well as economic stability.

As far as Hungary is concerned, Ambassador Jeszenszky remarked that his country increased its GDP by 5% and was able to push down inflation and unemployment to one-digit numbers, better than the EU average.  So far, Hungary has attracted more than $21 billion in foreign investment, of which the United States is responsible for one-third.   Hungary's entrance into NATO and eventual adherence to the European Union are both promising signs.

Through question and answer, the ambassador commented on Russia's new president, Putin.   He underlined that probably Putin himself is not yet sure of what kind of policies he will pursue.  It is a big question mark what sort of foreign policy Putin will introduce, and how the United States might influence his policies.

© 2003 The Radványi Chair in International Security Studies, Mississippi State University.
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