141. Action Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Hartman) to Secretary of State Vance1

Moving Forward with Hungary: The Crown of St. Stephen

We have been giving considerable thought to the appropriateness of returning the Crown of St. Stephen to Hungary. Congressman Vanik’s recent speech suggesting return of the Crown provoked some sharp, adverse reaction from Congresswoman Oakar, who has a strong ethnic constituency, and from Congressman Horton. However, Vanik’s position also has support and we believe that domestic reaction, even in the Hungarian-American community, will not be entirely negative.

The President is generally aware of the problem: he promised Vanik a reply after the Crown issue was reviewed. We have prepared the attached2 memorandum to the President in part as a way to pull our thoughts together on the issue of policy toward Hungary. However, there seems to be some divergence of views on the NSC staff regarding the Crown’s return and we have made no effort yet to sound out Brzezinski.

The Hungarians have also been exploring how they might obtain MFN treatment from us. They may be willing to conform (as Romania did) to Jackson-Vanik requirements. We intend to move forward cautiously in this area, bearing in mind the possible impacts on US-Soviet relations and prospects for change in Jackson-Vanik.


That you sign the attached memorandum to the President.3

ALTERNATIVELY, that you agree to meet with a small group including Warren Christopher, Matt Nimetz, myself and several others [Page 442] to discuss this problem and especially how best to approach the White House, the Congress and interested public groups.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Bureau of European Affairs, Office of Eastern Europe and Yugoslavia, Hungarian Holy Crown—Crown Follow Up 1979 and Prior Years 1945–1980, Lot 85D389, Box 1, Political: US-Hungary, Crown Follow-up, 1978. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Boutin, Gerth, and Nimetz on May 18; cleared by Armitage, Hansell, Katz, and Jenkins. Sent through Nimetz. A handwritten note on the document indicates that it was forwarded to Vance on May 26.
  2. At this point the word “draft” is crossed out in pen. On May 18, Nimetz informed Andrews he fully agreed with the recommendations in the memorandum to the President, but that he rewrote the draft in order to shorten it. (National Archives, RG 59, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Mr. Matthew Nimetz, Counselor of the Department of State and Under Secretary for Security Assistance, Science, and Technology, January 1977 thru December 1980, Lot 81D85, Box 1, MN Chron—Official—January–June 1977)
  3. Attached but not printed. A significantly revised version was signed by Vance on June 3. See Document 142.