Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) is not supporting Orbán anymore

On January 24, 2017, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit by Hungary. The award was presented in Washington D.C. with great fanfare by Orbán loyalist Ambassador Réka Szemerkényi and Kaptur expressed her support for the Budapest government.

Ambassador Réka Szemerkényi (left) and Rep. Kaptur at the award ceremony in 2017

Hungarian taxpayer’s money was not spared. The award ceremony was preceded by a piano concert followed by a seated dinner honoring Kaptur who represents Ohio’s Ninth Congressional District. She is the senior-most woman in the House and also the longest-serving woman from Ohio in history Rep. Kaptur is also a long-time co-chair of the Congressional Hungarian Caucus.

Now, to my surprise, in a letter dated May 9, 2019, Rep. Kaptur with other members of Congress have vigorously protested Viktor Orbán’s visit to the White House. Things have changed…

György Lázár

Rep. Kaptur and current Ambassador to Washington László Szabó.

May 9, 2019

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are deeply concerned by your decision to invite Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to the White House. As you know, Hungary is a NATO ally, and it is important that the United States maintain a close relationship with Hungary. However, we are concerned that you will turn a blind eye toward Prime Minister Orbán’s ongoing attacks on democracy in Hungary during your meetings — thus effectively endorsing his deplorable actions.

Prime Minister Orbán represents so many things that are antithetical to core American values. He has overseen a rollback of democracy in his country, used anti-Semitic and xenophobic tropes in his political messaging, and cozied up to Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin. He has also suppressed independent media and academic freedom in an effort to consolidate his increasingly autocratic rule. It troubles us to see the President of our country, which has historically supported the protection and promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide, meeting with a man who so regularly disregards these values.

Prime Minister Orbán’s actions have also begun to compromise the security interests of the United States. We are particularly concerned that the Hungarian government’s decision to host the headquarters of the International Investment Bank, widely regarded to be a lightly disguised front for Russian foreign intelligence and money laundering, and to provide the bank employees with diplomatic immunity, will create increased opportunities for Russian espionage and influence operations within a NATO member state. Indeed, this step follows a larger trend of increased Russian and Chinese influence in Hungary, including the construction of a Russian nuclear power plant, Hungary’s embrace of the Chinese “Belt and Road Initiative,” and Hungary’s extradition of Russian arms dealers back to Russia over U.S. Department of Justice objections.

Prime Minister Orbán’s domestic and foreign policy objectives run counter to American values and U.S. security interests. Therefore, we urge you not to meet with Prime Minister Orbán in the coming days and to postpone this meeting until Prime Minister Orbán returns his country to the path of democracy and respect for human rights.


ELIOT L. ENGEL,   Chairman Member of Congress House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Members of Congress:

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