WASHINGTON—In response to recent developments in Hungary – including the failure of Hungary to swiftly approve NATO accession protocols for Sweden – Helsinki Commission Chairman Representative Joe Wilson (SC-02) and Ranking Member Steve Cohen (TN-09) issued the following joint statement:
“Hungary’s prolonged delay in approving Sweden as a NATO ally is not only detrimental to the security interests of the Alliance but also raises serious questions about Hungary’s dedication to the core values and principles of NATO.
Furthermore, the ‘Sovereignty Protection Act’ raises significant concerns about the state of democracy in Hungary, given provisions that will curtail the rights of journalists, civil society, and political figures who are critical of the government. Hungary’s actions not only jeopardize its relationship with NATO and the United States, but also undermine the collective commitment to democratic values in Europe.
Echoing statements by colleagues in the Senate late last week, there is bipartisan, bicameral concern with Hungary’s obstructionism, which only plays into the hands of Putin, and we are prepared to take steps to hold Hungary accountable. We urge Hungary to immediately approve Sweden’s NATO accession protocols, as well as reverse actions that erode democratic principles and freedoms for civil society.”
Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Senator Ben Cardin issued a statement on February 1 on concerns over the Hungarian government, and Helsinki Commissioners Senators Shaheen and Tillis issued a joint statement on the same day, urging Hungary to immediately approve Sweden’s NATO accession protocols.
Turkey finalized the ratification of Sweden’s membership to NATO on January 25, making Hungary the only NATO ally left, despite repeated promises by the government that Hungary wouldn’t be the last NATO member to ratify Sweden’s request to join the alliance.
In December, Hungarian President Katalin Novák signed into law the “Sovereignty Protection Act,” which creates an office with unchecked powers to monitor and label individuals and organizations who receive foreign funding and influence public debate.