154. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to Secretary of State Vance 1

SUBJECT

  • Hungarian-Americans’ Suggestions on the Return of the Crown

I met yesterday afternoon with a group of Hungarian-Americans to discuss the Crown of St. Stephen.2 Although they had reservations on its return, they offered suggestions on the manner in which it could be transferred that would help minimize the negative repercussions and maximize the positive impact. A number of their suggestions have already been included in the original scenario, but others are new and would be useful for us to consider. Following is a summary of all their comments.

1. That steps be taken to strengthen human rights in Hungary. Among the items of concern here are increased freedom for the religious press, restoration of religious orders, release of any imprisoned clergy, and granting licenses to clergy who have been denied them in the past. The group suggested asking the Hungarian Government to declare amnesty for those who left Hungary for non-criminal reasons, or who were convicted on political and religious grounds.

2. That the Hungarian churches play a role in the presentation and guarding of the Crown and that religious symbolism be maintained.

3. That there be free and open access to the Crown.

4. That people-to-people aspect be emphasized in the return. The group suggests that the US delegation include a broad representation of Americans and that the role of Government officials be minimized.

5. That the Crown be exhibited in the US prior to its return to Hungary.

I realize that many of these items have already been taken into consideration, but you might consider the new ones in revising the scenario. Some of the suggestions may be difficult or unwise to include. [Page 468] The proposal to display the Crown here before its return should be given consideration, and I would appreciate your reactions.3

Zbigniew Brzezinski
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 27, Hungary: 1–12/77. Confidential.
  2. Brzezinski actually met with leaders of the Hungarian-American community on November 15 at 5:30 p.m. Brzezinski made changes to the initial draft of the memorandum, forwarded by King for signature on November 16. In the last paragraph, Brzezinski added a period after the word “scenario” and took out the third line which read “as the President requested, timing the return to take place at the end of his visit to Europe.” (Ibid.)
  3. See Document 156.