137. Memorandum From Robert Hunter of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Crown of St. Stephen

The current flap derives from an article in yesterday’s Times on an interview with Rep. Vanik, presumably from the Plain Dealer a day or so before. He had indicated that the Administration was studying the question of returning the crown.2

Vanik recently wrote to Vance on this question and on MFN.3 Vance replied that the issue of the crown would be addressed in the context of overall improvements on US-Hungarian relations. This has been the line for some time, including press guidance at State today on Sunday’s article.

FYI: The desk/office have proposed to Hartman (last week) that the issue be looked at again, with a view to seeing whether it would be possible to return the crown. State understands the domestic political aspects, and promises that nothing will go forward—or be said—without White House clearance. Hartman will be stopping in Budapest on the way back from Moscow. State was trying to reach Vanik, today, to ask that he do nothing further until Hartman returns.

It is important not to indicate to Vanik that a review may be in prospect.

Vanik also made sympathetic noises at the Hungarian Embassy a few weeks ago. Rep. Frenzel was also there and has written the President. State got only courtesy copies, not request for reply.

On a related point, Vanik is also concerned about MFN for Hungary. The position is that Hungary has been good on family reunification. But a restrictive law remains, which prevents the President from certifying that Hungary can be given MFN under Jackson-Vanik. Hungary will not accept a waiver as “internal interference.” The Vance [Page 431] letter to Vanik indicated these problems and said we were looking at ways to deal with the situation.

Lowenstein says the problem is one of finding out Hungarian-American opinion on the crown without stirring up a fuss. You might ask Vanik’s advice on this point. 4

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Europe, USSR, and East/West, Hunter Subject File, Box 14, Crown of St. Stephen, 2/76–3/77. Confidential.
  2. On March 27, The New York Times reported that Vanik had suggested in an interview on March 25 that he “believed he and his colleagues could assemble a majority in both the House and the Senate to approve both” MFN and the return of the Crown to Hungary. (“U.S. is Urged to Return Hungary’s Ancient Crown,” The New York Times, March 27, 1977, p. 10)
  3. See footnote 2, Document 136.
  4. Brzezinski met with Vanik on March 28. According to a March 28 memorandum from Jerry Schecter to Brzezinski summarizing the discussion, Brzezinski told Vanik that Hartman was to visit Hungary the following week and that Vanik “should do nothing more than say ‘I have presented my views on the subject and the matter will be looked into” if pressed on the Crown. Brzezinski also advised Vanik that the Department of State was looking into MFN for Hungary given Hungarian refusal to accept a waiver for compliance with the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Europe, Soviet Union, and East/West, Hunter Subject File, Box 14, Crown of St. Stephen, 2/76–3/77)