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ICYMI: Last Week, Shaheen Led Congressional Delegation to Hungary, Moldova and Türkiye

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chair of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, co-chair of the U.S. Senate NATO Observer Group and a senior member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, concluded a series of visits to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies and partner nations to address the most pressing security challenges impacting the United States and global community on the eve of the second anniversary of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Shaheen first joined a bipartisan Congressional delegation to the 2024 Munich Security Conference and later led a bipartisan Congressional delegation stop to Hungary with U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) focused on bolstering support for NATO and expressing concern with Hungary’s democratic backsliding. Following their visit, Shaheen and Murphy continued on to Moldova and Türkiye, where they reinforced U.S. support for the transatlantic Alliance. Photos from these visits can be found here

“The past week of meetings provided a unique opportunity to discuss shared security challenges with our partners and Allies. One thing that was clear to almost everyone we spoke with: we must continue working together in support of brave Ukrainians in their fight for freedom,” said Senator Shaheen. “Our meetings were productive – everywhere we traveled, we reaffirmed our commitment to strengthening NATO and pushing back against Putin’s malign influence. And while we were disappointed not to meet with Hungarian officials, we were glad to see their decision to ratify Sweden’s accession to NATO just after our visit to Budapest, which was long overdue.” 

“Last week, I traveled to the Munich Security Conference as well as Hungary, Moldova and Türkiye to drive home the fact that a strong NATO alliance is critical to beating back Russian aggression,” said Senator Murphy. “In Munich, I met with allies and partners who shared their extreme concern that if the U.S. abandons Ukraine, then Putin will be emboldened to move his war further West. In Hungary, I joined Senators Shaheen and Tillis in pushing the Orban government to approve Sweden’s membership in NATO, a step they officially took today. Finally, in Moldova we worked to strengthen our partnership in the face of growing Russian aggression, and to build upon new momentum and cooperation in our relationship with Türkiye.”  

“Hungary is a valued NATO ally, and it is absolutely essential that they maintain their commitment to the democratic values that all NATO countries share. That is why as co-chair of the Senate NATO Observer Group with Senator Shaheen, we recently traveled to Hungary with Senator Murphy to reaffirm that commitment and urge swift approval of Sweden to become the next member of NATO,” said Senator Tillis. “I applaud Hungary for finally supporting their long-awaited approval, and today’s vote is a positive step toward the continued partnership of our two countries and commitment to democracy as we combat continued aggression from Russia.” 

The Munich Security Conference is widely considered the world’s leading forum for international security policy. This year’s conference came on the heels of the U.S. Senate passing the National Security Supplemental Funding deal, which is now before the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration. In Munich, Senator Shaheen participated in a panel discussion on the Western Balkans with Albanian Prime Minister Rama, former Montenegro President Milatovic and North Macedonian President Pendarovski. The panel discussed challenges and opportunities in the Balkans, as well as the region’s collective response to Russia’s war in Ukraine. Shaheen also had numerous bilateral meetings with allies and partner nations, including Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic, Belarusian pro-democracy leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, U.S. European Command (EUCOM) Commander General Christopher Cavoli, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and others.  

In Hungary, the Senators requested to meet with Hungarian government officials – a customary practice when visiting Ally nations – but the meetings were denied. However, the day after the Shaheen-led visit, Hungary announced its intention to ratify Sweden’s accession to NATO, which occurred yesterday.  On Monday, Shaheen and Tillis introduced a resolution in the Senate concerning Hungary’s delay in ratifying Sweden’s accession as well as Hungary’s democratic backsliding.  

In Moldova, Shaheen and Murphy hosted a roundtable with civil society groups and free media organizations to discuss the threat that disinformation poses to its democracy and the nation’s efforts to combat Russian campaigns that have threatened to undermine recent and upcoming elections. The delegation also met with Moldova’s Prime Minister Dorin Recean and President Maia Sandu, who both underscored the overwhelming importance of supporting Ukraine, which must include final passage of the national security supplemental funding package.  

In Türkiye, Shaheen and Murphy met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which was the first time President Erdogan met with a Congressional delegation in Türkiye since 2019. The Senators discussed opportunities to strengthen the bilateral relationship with Türkiye following its ratification of Sweden’s NATO accession protocols and expressed appreciation for its role in the Black Sea, including its role in brokering the Black Sea grain deal. They also met with senior government officials, including the foreign minister and representatives from civil society. 

Shaheen has led a number of congressional delegations to NATO Allies and partner nations to underscore the importance of the transatlantic Alliance. Shaheen has led bipartisan Congressional delegations to the?NATO Summits in Vilnius 2023?and?Madrid 2022. Last year, Shaheen and U.S. Senator Peter Welch (D-VT) traveled to the Western Balkans to engage with partners amid continued Russian interference and to convey support for their Euro-Atlantic aspirations. Shaheen has also?traveled to the Western Balkans to serve as an election monitor for the Bosnia and Herzegovina elections, which?followed a separate trip to the region?with both Senators Murphy and Tillis.? 

Shaheen has also led bipartisan?efforts?in the Senate in support of the transatlantic Alliance as Sweden sought accession into NATO. In January, Shaheen and Tillis recently?applauded?Türkiye’s Parliament’s ratification of Sweden’s NATO accession protocols and have urged Hungary to do the same.  Earlier this month, Shaheen and Tillis, Co-Chairs of the U.S. Senate NATO Observer Group,?issued a joint statement?calling on Hungary to immediately approve NATO accession protocols for Sweden.?