June 3, 2019
Press Release
Legislation Highlights Concerns About Democratic Backsliding in Hungary

Washington—Representatives Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs; Joe Wilson (R-SC), member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs; Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission; and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Co-Chair of the Congressional Hungarian Caucus, this week announced new legislation expressing deep concern that the Government of Hungary has taken steps to weaken democratic institutions, undermine free elections, and limit civil society and a free press in Hungary.


“We greatly value our longstanding, close ties with Hungary, but we are deeply disturbed by the autocratic direction Prime Minister Viktor Orban has taken the country. His attacks on democracy, civil society, and the free press are deeply concerning,” said Chairman Engel.  “And Mr. Orban’s close ties to Vladimir Putin are unacceptable. It is critical that Hungary not become a Trojan Horse of the Kremlin in NATO, and I call on the Trump Administration to take immediate steps to address these concerns in Hungary.”

“The close relationship the United States has fostered with Hungary over the years is based on shared values and principles that are also the bedrock of the NATO alliance. However, in recent years developments in Hungary have steered our vital central European partner on course of democratic backsliding with potential ramifications for years to come. This resolution sends a strong message that the United States will continue to value the important bilateral relationship with Hungary while prioritizing support for a robust and free Hungarian civil society. I’m grateful for Chairman Engel’s leadership on this crucial issue, and I hope our partners in Budapest recommit to the democratic ideals they have cherished for so long,” said Rep. Wilson.


“A strong, democratic Hungary would be the most effective partner for the United States and our NATO allies. Instead, Prime Minister Orban is steering his country along a perilous path of oppression and isolation. Recent developments—including the adoption of laws curtailing fundamental freedoms, the relocation of the International Investment Bank from Moscow to Budapest, and the extradition of arms traffickers to Russia instead of a U.S. court—underscore the need to address these stress points in our bilateral relations.  This resolution signals the enduring importance of the U.S.-Hungary relationship to Congress and our continuing support for civil society and democracy in this NATO ally,” said Rep. Hastings.


“As a close friend of the Hungarian people, it was an unforgettable moment when the Berlin Wall fell and liberty spread across Hungary. But once again, liberty is imperiled in Hungary thanks to Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Under his leadership, corruption has escalated, democratic institutions have eroded, and far-right nationalism has gained a dangerous foothold. This bipartisan resolution sends a clear message that U.S. engagement in the region has not turned a blind eye on democratic erosion and increased Russian and Chinese influence. I call on the Administration to follow suit,” said Rep. Kaptur.


Full text of the resolution can be found here.