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The United States could impose sanctions on Hungary and Hungarian individuals

The United States could impose sanctions on Hungary and Hungarian individuals

US Senator Ben Cardin, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, met with David Pressman, US Ambassador to Hungary, in Washington this week. He was released after discussing with him In his statement He expressed deep concern “about the direction of Hungary under the leadership of Prime Minister Viktor Orban.” In a statement issued on Friday, Senator Cardin expressed concern about the erosion of democratic standards in the country and recommended sanctions be imposed on certain individuals under the Magnitsky Act, as well as From the Visa Waiver Program Hungarian citizens are also excluded.

The above was approved in December 2016 Global Magnitsky law It gives the president expanded powers to impose sanctions on human rights violators or corrupt individuals. The measure is based on the original Magnitsky Act passed in 2012, which was introduced specifically against Russian public figures convicted of human rights violations. The law allowed these individuals to be banned from entering the United States and their assets there to be frozen. Since then, the law has been supplemented by the fact that it can be applied not only to politicians, but also to businessmen.

Senator Cardin expressed his appreciation to Ambassador Pressman for his steadfast representation of American interests and values ​​in Budapest, affirming his enduring commitment to democracy, the rule of law, and equality. The senator expressed his full confidence in the diplomat, noting the strong bipartisan support in the US Senate for his appointment.

In the statement, Senator Cardin expressed deep concern about the behavior of the current Hungarian government and accused government officials of launching unprecedented attacks on President Biden and Ambassador Pressman, actions that he considers unacceptable from an American ally. The Senator called on the Biden administration to study whether Hungary is a reliable partner worthy of participating in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) visa waiver program.

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He also suggested that sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act could be considered due to the perceived level of corruption within the Hungarian government.

Interestingly, last week, when US Ambassador David Pressman was asked whether rumors that the United States was considering imposing sanctions and restrictions on Hungary were true, he said that

This information is not accurate.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban received direct criticism from Senator Cardin, who described him as the least reliable member of NATO. The senator accused Hungary of unnecessarily delaying EU efforts to provide economic aid to Ukraine, and urged the country to immediately end its obstruction of Sweden's NATO membership. It is worth noting that the Hungarian Prime Minister did not veto the Ukrainian aid package at the EU summit on Thursday

Highlighting recent legislative measures in Hungary, Senator Cardin condemned the adoption of the Sovereignty Protection Law. He described this legislation, which came into force on Thursday with the establishment of the “Sovereignty Protection Authority,” as a direct attack on democratic principles. The senator expressed his concern about the law, which he described as harsh and unprecedented in modern democracies. The legislation allows state intelligence and law enforcement agencies to monitor individuals who criticize Orbán's regime, including journalists, members of civil society and political figures.

As Hungary's democratic standards face continued erosion, Senator Cardin's statement places additional pressure on the Biden administration to reassess the country's place in international alliances and consider appropriate measures in response to the challenges facing democracy under the leadership of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. This situation is likely to intensify discussions about Hungary's role within NATO and its eligibility to participate in key international programmes.

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Additionally, as Reuters reported, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Senator Thom Tillis, co-chairs of the Senate NATO observers group, called on Hungary to stop blocking Sweden's accession in a statement.

“Hungary’s inaction risks irreversibly damaging its relationship with the United States and NATO,” said the statement from the senators, who hinted that the Hungarian parliament could only take a decision on ratifying Sweden’s accession at the end of February.

These things are already happening: last August, in the United States Hungary already had limited access to the EFTA programme. He then pointed out that since the Hungarian government launched simplified naturalization procedures in 2011, many foreign criminals have obtained Hungarian passports. Nearly one million people obtained Hungarian citizenship through this program before Hungary began implementing full biometric and identity verification in 2020. Washington has repeatedly called on Hungarian authorities and the government to take steps to identify those who have obtained Hungarian passports through simplified naturalization procedures. A more stringent audit was conducted, but that was not done.

Last spring, the United States already sanctioned Hungarian individuals when it blacklisted the Russian-founded International Investment Bank. At that time, the Hungarian government finally withdrew from the IFC, but had previously planned to increase its role.

Cover image source: Getty Images

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