Sending Office: Honorable Andy Harris
Sent By:
Tim.Daniels@mail.house.gov

 

Request for Signature(s)

SIGN LETTER TO SUPPORT HUNGARIAN-AMERICAN RELATIONS

Overturn Obama Era Policy to Fund Media to Interfere in Hungarian Elections

 

Dear Colleagues,

Please join me in a letter to Secretary Tillerson urging him to take immediate steps to improve relations with Hungary.

As you may know, the Obama Administration cold-shouldered Hungary and distorted the record of its center-right government led by Prime Minister Victor Orban.
Under Obama, the State Department tried to turn Hungary into a pariah state, denying high-level meetings. Orban has been an outspoken defender of Western civilization and Hungary’s traditional values and cultural heritage – and the leading
European voice against mass immigration and the hegemony of Brussels. At the same time Hungarians have ratified his leadership on these issues and his economic policies with repeated election victories. Most notably, under Orban’s direction, Hungary was the
first member of the European Union to recognize the security crises represented by the uncontrolled flow of refugees into the EU and the his was the first government to take action to prevent that flow. Though heavily criticized at the time, Hungary’s erection
of a border fence is now praised as a prudent and necessary measure to protect the integrity and security of not just Hungary, but the entire EU. Hungary under PM Orban has also been Israel’s strongest supporters in Europe.

Under President Trump, the policy has improved yet the Obama policy course has not been completely corrected. Most shocking, the State Department recently issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for a grant of up to $700,000 to support “objective
media” to “lead to democratic reforms” in Hungary – in other words, the State Department seeks to fund opposition media in a democratic country that is a member of NATO and the EU
. This represents the latest in a string of State Department actions
insulting and undermining the center-right government of one of the United States’ closest allies in Europe.

As a co-chair of the Congressional Hungarian-American Caucus, I ask you to join me in encouraging the Secretary to ensure that implementation of the NOFO is immediately suspended and decisively  develop the natural alliance between the US and Hungary.
Prime Minister Orban has been a vocal supporter of President Trump since early on in the campaign and Orban’s approaches to many policy issues including defense, security, antiterrorism, foreign policy or immigration closely mirror those of President Trump.
Just as President Trump has declared “America First” so too has Hungary pursued its own national interests, many times in the face of liberal, Soros funded, opposition. Throughout that legitimate pursuit, the State Department has often interjected itself with
critical statements of domestic policy issued in an official capacity. The NOFO represents an escalation in the State Department’s misguided antagonism of our democratic ally. To be added to this letter, please contact
Timothy.Daniels@mail.house.gov by
COB Wednesday, January 10th.

Sincerely,

 

Andy Harris, M.D.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Text of Letter:

The Honorable Rex Tillerson

Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20520

 

We write to you in support of strengthening the bilateral relationship between the United States and its ally, Hungary. This relationship should be about furthering our joint strategic interests. In most areas our Countries’ interests and philosophy are
closely aligned. We are of the opinion that the State Department should, therefore, focus on working with Hungary to pursue our common objectives in the field of defense, security, antiterrorism, foreign policy and immigration.

Hungary, along with the other “Visegrad 4 Countries” (V4), is a natural ally of the United States. With respect to many of the substantive areas mentioned above, the views of Hungary and the V4 reflect U.S. positions more faithfully than much of the rest
of the European Union. With Hungary currently serving its term as President of the V4, this parity, in interests and approach, presents an excellent opportunity to fortify our two countries’ relationship as we pursue our common objectives.

Unfortunately, recent State Department actions, with respect to Hungary, demonstrate a continued adherence to misguided Obama era policies. Instead of collaborating with our ally, the State Department’s actions still seem to focus on influencing the domestic
social and public policy choices of Hungary, creating an impression (and perhaps even the reality) of undue interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign allied country.

Following U.S. Charge d’Affaires David Kostelancik’s recent public criticism of perceived Hungarian government-friendly media predominance at the regional level, the State Department issued the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) entitled “Supporting Objective
Media in Hungary.” Through this funding opportunity, the Department plans to spend $700,000 influencing regional media in Hungary to enhance “objective reporting” on projects that should “aim to have impact that leads to democratic reforms”. Given the proximity
of elections in Hungary, we are concerned that this NOFO will be seen as inappropriate meddling in the domestic affairs of a close ally on the part of the United States, especially in light of the suggestion that Hungary is in some way not a fully functioning
democracy.

These interventions could seriously damage the public and political image of the U.S., not only in Hungary, but also more widely in the region, particularly among the V4 nations. Therefore, we believe these types of actions are inconsistent with U.S. foreign
policy goals.

As such, we respectfully ask that you use your authority to see to it that the NOFO’s implementation is suspended immediately. We believe that Department funds allocated for promoting democracy could and should be directed elsewhere, where they are truly
needed, not to a trusted democratic ally.

Further, we suggest that a new path should be charted to strengthen the strategic cooperation between the United States and Hungary, a path that focuses on the advancement of our vital joint interests. With the appointment of Assistant Secretary A. Wess
Mitchell, a pragmatist, who knows the region and understands the common threats well, we feel the first step has already been taken.

In order to jumpstart the process of maximizing cooperation between our nations we would also suggest several additional actions by the State Department. First, the Department should organize appropriate high-level meetings between the leaders of our two
countries in order to build mutual trust, reassure our ally of our support, and harmonize our approaches to our mutual goals. Second, we urge you to promptly install a new U.S. Ambassador to Budapest, who understands the importance of strategic cooperation
between the U.S. and Hungary.

We are convinced that Hungary stands ready to continue fulfilling its obligations and work shoulder-to-shoulder with us in pursuit of our joint strategic interests, as it has done consistently since the end of the Cold War.

Sincerely,

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