WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement on his meeting this week with the U.S. Ambassador to Hungary and his concerns with the direction of the NATO member under Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
“I was privileged to host U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, David Pressman, yesterday in my office in Washington. Ambassador Pressman clearly understands and represents American interests and values in Budapest, including our enduring commitment to democracy, rule of law, and equal rights. Ambassador Pressman enjoys strong bipartisan support in the United States Senate, where he was confirmed by a wide margin, and he has my full confidence as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“In contrast, I have deep concerns over the direction of the current Hungarian government, whose officials have repeatedly attacked President Biden and Ambassador Pressman in ways that should be unthinkable for an American ally. The Biden Administration should be examining whether Hungary truly is a trusted partner deserving of participating in the Visa Waiver Program – and given the level of corruption, whether it is appropriate to initiate sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act.
“Prime Minister Viktor Orban has in recent days once again shown himself to be the least reliable member of NATO, in addition to unnecessarily delaying, until today, the European Union’s effort to provide much-needed economic assistance to Ukraine. While I am grateful to see the European Union provide a robust package of support for Ukraine, Hungary must now expeditiously end its obstruction of Sweden’s NATO membership.
“The ongoing erosion of democratic norms in Hungary continues to be alarming. The recently enacted 'Sovereignty Protection Act’ — which goes into effect today with the launching of the so-called ‘Sovereignty Protection Authority’ — is a direct assault on the rights of journalists, civil society, political figures, and anyone who criticizes the Orban regime, directing the state's intelligence agencies and law enforcement to surveil, detain, depose and imprison those who voice dissent. It’s nothing short of draconian and unlike anything we’ve seen in a modern democracy.”