“Political leaders in Hungary and Poland – allies of the United States and members of the European Union – have pursued policies over the past decade that undermine democracy and the rule of law,” the commission said in a statement.

As it was added, Viktor Orban’s government has weakened the country’s democratic institutions and, instead of strengthening transatlantic relations, is seeking closer ties with Russia and China.

“In Poland, the ruling coalition has taken steps to undermine the independence of the judiciary and limit freedom of expression” – reads the statement. The hearing aims to “examine the erosion of democratic norms” and the lessons learned from US foreign policy.

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Who will appear before the committee?

Appearing before the panel will be Zelke Kasaki of Freedom House, former State Department vice president for Strategic, International, and Diplomatic Studies and Heather Conley, and analyst at the American Enterprise Institute Dalibor Rohatch.

A congressional source told PAP that the hearing on Poland and Hungary had been long-planned by the commission’s chair, Ben Cardin, but the current row at the EU forum had sparked additional interest in the situation in both countries.

We know, of course, that there are big differences between Poland and Hungary, and Poland is an important ally. But many panelists are concerned about the erosion of democratic standards in both countries and want to know what’s going on, the interviewer told PAP.

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He declared that the meeting may be more political than usual in such cases due to the growing popularity of Viktor Orbán among some American conservatives. “Nevertheless, many Republicans still believe that institutional erosion is an important problem,” he added.

The American Helsinki Committee, or rather the Committee on Security and Cooperation in Europe, is a congressional body composed of politicians from both houses of the US Parliament. It deals with human rights, democracy and other topics related to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

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