160. Editorial Note

At noon on December 15, 1977, the Department of State released the text of the U.S.-Hungarian Joint Communiqué and exchange of letters setting forth the understanding between the two governments regarding the return of the Crown of St. Stephen. The day before, while transmitting the final text agreed in Budapest, the Embassy reported: “The communique contains the language we wanted on every point which was discussed” and that the Hungarian Government would “release the communique, Puja’s text, and the essential points of the Ambassador’s letter. Reference to Cardinal Lekai’s participation will be included in these points.” (Telegram 4319 from Budapest, December 14; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770465–0686)

Three days earlier, on December 12, Representative Mary Rose Oakar wrote to Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Zbigniew Brzezinski regarding media speculation on the return of the Crown and complained she had received no reply to her November 29 letter to President Jimmy Carter outlining her conditions for its return. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Europe, USSR, and East/West, Hunter Subject File, Box 14, Hungary: Crown of St Stephen: 12/77) Robert King of the National Security Council Staff had received Representatives Oakar and Frank Horton on November 29 and accepted a letter to the President outlining conditions under which the return of the Crown would be deemed acceptable by the Hungarian-American community. The two Representatives also expressed their concern that Congress be informed of any decision regarding the return of the Crown. King reported his meeting to Brzezinski in a November 29 memorandum. (Ibid.)

On December 15, the day of the official announcement of the return of the Crown, Brzezinski wrote Oakar that the President’s “decision to return the Crown of St Stephen to the Hungarian people has been made on the basis that this important historic relic belongs to the Hungarian nation. In making that decision he is fully aware of its symbolism.” Brzezinski also outlined the conditions under which the United States agreed to return the Crown, included in the Joint Communiqué and exchange of letters. (Ibid.)