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Shaheen Tillis Murphy

Shaheen, Tillis to unveil resolution condemning Hungary

Just days after they were snubbed by Hungary’s leaders during a visit to Budapest, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) are set to unveil a Senate resolution condemning the NATO ally on a variety of fronts.

The new measure, set to drop next week, lashes Hungary for democratic backsliding, its months-long delay in approving Sweden’s accession to NATO and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s closeness with Russia and China, according to the resolution text we obtained.

It also notes that Hungary had pledged it wouldn’t be the last NATO member to sign off on Sweden’s membership in the military alliance, which it has now become. And the resolution accuses the country of “jeopardizing transatlantic security at a key moment for peace and stability in Europe.”

Shaheen, Tillis and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) traveled to Budapest on Sunday after the Munich Security Conference. Orbán, as well as his ministers and members of his party in the country’s parliament, refused to meet with the senators.

Europe’s problem child: Orbán’s nationalist government has been hailed as a model by former President Donald Trump and his allies. But it has come under increasing scrutiny from the West, with Orbán maintaining relations with Vladimir Putin and seeking to water down some of the European Union’s sanctions on Russia after the invasion of Ukraine.

The United States and other Western nations have been openly critical of Hungary in recent months because of its 18-month delay in ratifying Sweden’s NATO accession, which Shaheen and Tillis have argued undermines the alliance. Orbán has also come under fire for trying to suppress independent media and crack down on dissent.

The resolution chided Hungary for instituting “a law purportedly designed to protect the sovereignty of Hungary, but which actually serves as a tool to silence Hungarians who disagree with the current ruling party” in December.

This is a reference to a law passed in Hungary that the State Department said implements “draconian tools that can be used to intimidate and punish” critics of the Orbán government.

Back on the Hill: Shaheen and Tillis chair the Senate’s NATO Observer Group and have been calling on Hungary to swiftly approve Sweden’s membership. They’ve said Hungary’s delay could “irrevocably” damage its relationship with the United States and with NATO. Hungary could finally be moving toward ratification as soon as next week, according to reports on Tuesday.

Frustrations with Hungary have reached a boiling point in Congress. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Ben Cardin (D-Md.) suggested earlier this month that the country may be deserving of human-rights sanctions, which would be an unprecedented action against a fellow NATO member.

— Andrew Desiderio

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