U.S. Senators Press U.S. Ambassador to Hungary on Democratic Backsliding

December 20, 2018

A group of United States Senators concerned about Hungary's democratic backsliding sent a letter to U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, David Cornstein on December 20. Read a summary below or the full text of the letter at this link.

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) today pressed the United States Ambassador to Hungary about their mounting concern over democratic backsliding in Hungary, including the most recent forced expulsion of the Central European University (CEU). The CEU enjoys considerable bipartisan support in Congress given its commitment to open society and critical thinking in a former Soviet Bloc nation still consolidating its democratic gains.

“This petty and counterproductive move by the Hungarian government comes on the heels of increased intimidation and shrinking of the country’s free press. While we appreciate the challenge of engaging the Viktor Orban regime, such moves by his government are antithetical to key American democratic values and international norms and do not go unnoticed in the United States Congress,” the members wrote in a letter to Ambassador Cornstein.

The last few years have seen deeply troublingly and brazen efforts to undermine the country’s judiciary as well as access to independent media in Hungary. Just recently, more than a dozen owners gave 400 news websites, newspapers, television channels, and radio stations to a front group run by Orban loyalists. The members also expressed concern over Hungary’s seeming leanings toward Moscow, including its refusal to extradite to the U.S. two Russians wanted for selling arms to drug cartels and harboring of pro-Russian, ex-Macedonian prime minister Nikola Gruevski, a fugitive facing prison at home over corruption charges.