Relations with Hungary
After the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in 1918, a short transitional period followed during which the domestic and foreign policies of the new independent Hungary were consolidated, creating the need to regulate relations with the Sovereign Order of Malta. This intention coincided with the effort to establish an autonomous territorial organization for the Hungarian branch of the Order of Malta, four centuries after it had been dissolved due to the Turkish occupation.
The Grand Master of the Order of Malta, Fra’ Galeazzo von Thun und Hohenstein, appointed Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion Count Jenő Karátsonyi, as the envoy to Hungary in 1925. The presentation of his Credentials to Governor Miklós Horthy marked the official beginning of diplomatic relations between the Sovereign Order of Malta and the Kingdom of Hungary.
One of the ambassador’s most important initial tasks was to restore the organizational structure of the Order of Malta in Hungary, partly through the admission of new members and partly by incorporating Hungarian members of the Order who belonged to the Grand Priory of Bohemia. Thanks to his organizational work, there were enough members available in 1927 to formally apply for the establishment of an independent Hungarian Association.
The diplomatic relations between the Sovereign Order of Malta and Hungary ended again 20 years later, following the collapse of 1945 and the subsequent communist takeover.
Following the end of the communist regime and the fall of the Iron Curtain, full diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level could be resumed in 1990. Since then, the following individuals have served as ambassadors of the Order of Malta:
Ambassadors after 1990
1. Count Alexander Mensdorff- Pouilly – credentials presented on 7th December 1990
2. Dr. Erich Kusssbach – credentials presented on 12th April 2005
3. Archduke Mihály von Habsburg- Lothringen – credentials presented on 1st October 2013
4. Imre von Ugron – credentials presented on 13th June 2016
5. Dr. Heinz Anton Hafner – credentials presented on 18th October 2022
The ambassador represents the Sovereign Order of Malta to the Head of State and to the Government of Hungary, acting also as a liaison between the Order’s government in Rome and the Hungarian Association of the Order. The embassy’s main task is to promote the interest of the Order of Malta in the field of humanitarian diplomacy.
In Hungary, there is intensive cooperation with the Hungarian Association of the Order of Malta and with the Hungarian Relief Service to support their charitable activities to the best extent possible. The cooperation of the Order with the Hungarian Government is based on a Bilateral Cooperation Agreement signed in 2010. The humanitarian projects implemented on the basis of this agreement are evaluated annually during a joint meeting attended by members of the Government and representatives of the Order of Malta.