On Tuesday, September 20, 2016, the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide and its President, Dr. Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen, along with AAFSW Program Chair, Sheila Switzer, welcomed her Excellency, the Hungarian Ambassador to the USA, Dr. Réka Szemerkényi. AAFSW members and friends met at the George Marshall Auditorium in the Department of State in Washington, DC where Dr. Szemerkényi gave us an exhilarating presentation on the “Challenges and Opportunities Facing Hungary,” followed by a question-and-answer session.
Dr. Szemerkényi was appointed Ambassador of Hungary to the United States in 2015. Previously, she has been the Chief Advisor on Security Policy to the Prime Minister of Hungary covering Trans-Atlantic issues, Central European regional relations, the Balkans, Russia, with a particular emphasis on energy security and cyber security. Dr. Szemerkényi was also the Head of International Public Affairs and Chief Advisor on International Relations to the Chairman of the Board of MOL Group, the Hungarian Oil and Gas Company covering European Union energy policy and security developments and the establishment of the Central European regional energy cooperation. Additionally, she served as the State Secretary for Foreign Policy and National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Hungary as well as the Senior Advisor to the State Secretary of the Hungarian Ministry of Defense.
After Her Excellency’s interesting presentation, which was enhanced by her accumulated and intimate knowledge on the intricacies of European and American politics, Dr. Szemerkényi led an open discussion with the audience regarding the current political stand of Hungary and the European Community on common problems. Due to the international background of the audience, the Ambassador very graciously expanded the discussion by addressing the topic of refugees and migrants, which is one of the most important issues facing European nations and the USA presently. Dr. Szemerkényi answered difficult questions regarding complex issues in a very frank and sincere way, explaining the importance of the bigger picture and the potential future outcomes. The audience thanked the Hungarian Ambassador, Sheila Switzer, and AAFSW for such a wonderful and educational event!
AAFSW Program Chair