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Hungarian Prime Minister Asks EU to Remove Ukraine's Membership from Agenda

Ukraine requested to join the trading bloc in the weeks after Russia's invasion

Hungarian Prime Minister Asks EU to Remove Ukraine's Membership from Agenda

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has called on the European Union to keep Ukraine’s possible membership off its agenda for the upcoming European Council meeting.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, announced it would support Ukraine opening membership talks provided it addresses issues with corruption, lobbying concerns, and “restrictions that might prevent national minorities from studying and reading in their own languages,” per AP News

Hungary has repeatedly signaled it will not support the talks. All members of the EU must unanimously agree on any matter involving potentially admitting a new country.

It is clear that the proposal of the [EU Commission] on Ukraine’s EU accession is unfounded and poorly prepared,” Orbán wrote on X on Dec. 3. “There is no place for it on the agenda of the December #EUCO!”

In a letter to European Council President Charles Michel, the prime minister called for a “strategic discussion” regarding Ukraine before membership talks began.

“I respectfully urge you not to invite the European Council to decide on these matters in December as the obvious lack of consensus would inevitably lead to failure,” Orbán wrote.

“He described the commission’s proposal for a mid-term review of the 2021-27 budget, which has blown out due to spending to counter the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s war on Ukraine, as ‘unsubstantiated, unbalanced and unrealistic proposal,’” per ABC News

He said the EU “must avoid this counterproductive scenario for the sake of unity, our most important asset.” 

Other members of Orbán’s government have expressed similar concerns. 

“We are dealing with a completely premature proposal,” Gergely Gulyas, the prime minister’s chief of staff, told reporters in late November.

Gulyas also said Hungary plans to oppose new EU budget amendments including a proposal to provide 50 billion euros ($54.5 billion) in long-term aid to Ukraine. He further accused the EU of withholding billions of dollars in funding from his country after the organization claimed Hungary had not complied with its rule-of-law and corruption standards. 

In early November, Orbán said on state radio that Ukraine was not prepared to join the EU.

“Ukraine is in no way ready to negotiate on its ambitions to join the European Union,” he said, per Al Jazeera. “The clear Hungarian position is that the negotiations must not begin.”

Ukraine appealed to be admitted to the trading bloc in March of 2022. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky requested his country be given an expedited path to membership after Russia’s February invasion.

"Our goal is to be with all Europeans and, most importantly, to be equal,” said Zelensky in a recorded statement, per Reuters. “I'm sure that's fair. I am sure we deserve it.”

The European Council is scheduled to meet on Dec. 14 and Dec. 15.

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