Good afternoon, everyone. Jó napot kívánok!
I can’t tell you how delighted I am to welcome you to a garden party at my home. Aren’t we lucky with the weather?! I also want to acknowledge that a number of teachers, students and school directors have come from quite far away to join us, and I am honored that you have chosen to do that! We have Pécs, Szombathely, Hódmezővásárhely, Zalaegerszeg, Tokaj and Debrecen, among others. I very much appreciate it!
I also want to welcome our very distinguished guests from our partner, the Ministry of Human Capacities, Deputy State Secretary for European and International Affairs, Mr. Gergely Prőhle, and his colleagues from his Ministry, Krisztina Gunter and Cecília Nagy. We are very honored to have guests, as well, from the Prime Minister’s Office: Thank you for coming, Mr. Vince Szalay-Bobrovniczky and Mr. Péter Palóczi.
We also are delighted to welcome Mr. Ferenc Szebényi from the Office of North American Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Thank you for joining us!
While I am always happy to bring people together, I think that this afternoon’s gathering is especially important. We at the U.S. Embassy want to celebrate our ten years of cooperation with the Ministry of Human Capacities. Although it has born different names over the years, it has steadfastly worked with us to promote and support Holocaust education training for Hungarian teachers. For the past ten years, the Ministry, now led by Minister Zoltán Balog, has consulted closely with our Public Affairs Section in the selection of from two to six teachers each spring for the annual one-week summer training in the United States. This year we are especially proud that the Embassy is able to support five of the six teachers for this summer’s training, which will take place later this month and in July. Indispensable to these efforts has been the work of our partners, Miklós Thaisz, Head of the Department of Public Education Programs and Relations and Fanni Somogyi, Desk Officer for Public Affairs.
I also want to highlight a great project that we just learned that the Ministry is also supporting — an innovative program called “Empty Benches.” It will begin next fall, and will honor the students who were forced to leave their schools in the 1940s simply because they were Jewish. Once we learned about this project, we wanted to invite the creators, Mazsike, the educators, Zachor Foundation and the implementers – the Holocaust Documentation Center and the teachers and directors from the first schools that will begin this project – to also join our celebration to underscore the U.S. Government’s support for recognizing the contributions of all citizens to Hungary’s long and distinguished history. Many of those students forced out of their schools went to concentration camps. Others were able to emigrate elsewhere and some such students came to my country, where they made tremendous contributions! So, this gathering is a celebration of wonderful intentions and great implementations, and I couldn’t be happier at the turnout!
I would now like to ask Deputy State Secretary Gergely Prőhle from the Ministry of Human Capacities to say a few words.