Viktor Orbán has threatened to veto two of the key decisions expected from the EU summit in Brussels next week – on enlargement and on increasing the European budget
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is seeking a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban ahead of next week’s meeting of European leaders in Brussels to decide whether to open negotiations on Ukraine’s entry into the EU.
Zelenskiy’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak said he had spoken to Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjártó about a possible meeting after Orbán and his party publicly opposed opening membership talks.
Szijjártó said Budapest was open to such a meeting, “but it only makes sense if there is a chance for the meeting to have a positive outcome. This requires serious preparation and preliminary talks,” the statement quoted by Reuters said.
Hungary objects to the decision because Kiev has not yet adopted the law it requested to protect the Hungarian minority in Ukraine. At the beginning of the week, Orbán opposed the recommendation of the European Commission to start the negotiations, writing in a letter to the President of the European Council Charles Michel that it was ill-founded and poorly prepared.
Orban asked the EU not to decide on the negotiations with Ukraine and not to finance them
In a video posted on social media, the Hungarian prime minister said the commission had not taken into account the effect that accepting a country like Ukraine would have on access to EU funds for other EU countries.
The @EU_Commission didn’t do it’s homework. They want to shove Ukraine’s EU accession down our throats, without assessing the consequences for European taxpayers and farmers. This is nonsense! The Commission should go back to the drawing board. #Ukraine’s EU-accession shouldn’t pic.twitter.com/DJ6QZ1OyNW
— Viktor Orbán (@PM_ViktorOrban) December 1, 2023
Yermak, who is currently in Washington with a Ukrainian delegation discussing US aid to Kiev, said Ukraine was “counting on a positive decision” from the EU meeting. He assured that the minority law requested by Budapest will be considered in the coming days.
A position by Orbán’s Fidesz parliamentary group, adopted this week, said EU enlargement “must remain an objective process based on rules and results”.
“The start of membership negotiations with Ukraine must be based on a consensus among the EU member states… The conditions for this are not present today,” the position says.
And for the EU budget
Orban will meet French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Thursday ahead of the summit, after the Hungarian prime minister also publicly opposed an increase in the European budget to ensure continued EU economic and military aid to Ukraine.
Brussels proposed changes and requested 66 billion euros for the EU budget because of Ukraine and migration
The EU needs unanimity on both the budget and enlargement to make a decision.
In November, Orbán launched a national poll of the Hungarian population that included questions on both membership and continued military aid to Ukraine, which the prime minister opposes.
“Does Brussels make you angry”: Orbán sent 11 questions to Hungarians about their disputes with the EU
Last week, Orbán hosted Charles Michel in Budapest, but according to press reports, Michel left empty-handed.
At the end of November, the European Commission surprisingly unfroze 920 million euros for Hungary’s recovery plan, which it has been holding for two years due to Budapest’s unfulfilled preconditions related to the rule of law.
Unfreezing: The European Commission released 920 million euros in advance to Hungary
Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova hinted in an interview last week that up to €10bn more of cohesion funds, which have been frozen for jeopardizing the EU’s financial interests, could soon be on their way as Budapest makes serious efforts to meet its commitments to the rule of law.
In the interview with the Hungarian newspaper Nepsava, Jourova made an explicit provision that the commission’s decision would be made on the basis of strict rules and regardless of the date of the summit.