December 8, 2021 Press Release
Today, in advance of President Biden’s Summit for Democracy, I, along with all Democratic Members of the House Foreign Affairs Europe Subcommittee as well Members from the the Helsinki Commission and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, have joined with the Founding Members of the Pact of Free Cities Alliance in releasing a Joint Declaration reaffirming our commitment to liberal democratic values, protecting marginalized communities, and defending the rule of law at all levels of government. I was proud to have the Founding Members of the Pact testify at a Europe Subcommittee hearing last week on their successes and the progress they have made in supporting democratic resilience in Central Europe. Our local and municipal leaders, including all the Mayors in the Pact of Free Cities, are essential to ensuring our democratic institutions remain strong and that our commitments to protecting human rights are upheld. Only together, as representatives of our cities and congressional districts, can we seek impactful solutions to the many crises facing our world today.
For a PDF copy of the signed letter, click here. A transcript of the letter and signatories appears below.
We, Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Members of the Helsinki Commission, and the Founding Mayors in the Pact of Free Cities, reaffirm our commitment to promoting democratic values, protecting marginalized communities impacted by rising inequality, climate change, and inadequate resources as well as combating all forms of authoritarianism. Together, we find and acknowledge that:
Substantial progress in terms of democratic development has been made in Central Europe since the fall of communism three decades ago.
The incorporation of Central Europe into the transatlantic community has been essential to the region’s prosperity and stability.
Central European nations are important NATO and EU members and partners of the United States. The capital cities in this region and their leaders are significant players in protecting democracy and combating authoritarianism.
Together, we believe:
All people, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, are created equal and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Rule of law, separation of powers, the protection of human rights as well as freedom of speech, assembly, and press are essential pillars of a democratic society.
The democratic values and rules-based system of the transatlantic alliance makes us stronger, more resilient, and ensures our prosperity.
As such, we recommit and to the following:
We, the Founding Mayors of the Pact of Free Cities, reaffirm our commitments established in the launch of the Pact in 2019 and followed up upon during the 2021 Pact of Free Cities Mayors Summit in Budapest emphasizing the role of the cities and their collaboration in protecting democracy and human rights.
We, Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Helsinki Commission, reaffirm our commitments to promoting democracy abroad and defending democratic values at home.
Together, we pledge to defend human rights, work to provide the necessary services required for a life of dignity and prosperity for our constituents and seek solutions to global and local challenges that meet the common good.
William R. Keating, Member of Congress
Matúš Vallo, Mayor of Bratislava
Gergely Karácsony, Mayor of Budapest
Zdeněk Hřib, Mayor of Prague
Rafał Trzaskowski, Mayor of Warsaw
Ted Deutch, Member of Congress
Bradley S. Schneider, Member of Congress
David N. Cicilline, Member of Congress
Juan Vargas, Member of Congress
Steve Cohen, Member of Congress
Gerald E. Connolly, Member of Congress
Marcy Kaptur, Member of Congress
Vicente Gonzalez, Member of Congress
Susan Wild, Member of Congress
Dina Titus, Member of Congress
Jim Costa, Member of Congress
Albio Sires, Member of Congress
Abigail D. Spanberger, Member of Congress
Dean Phillips, Member of Congress
Issues: FOREIGN AFFAIRS