Brussels went further in its “blackmail” campaign against Budapest than previously reported, a senior government aide has said
Several EU heads of state directly told Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban that they would crash the Hungarian economy if he blocked a €50 billion ($54 billion) economic aid package for Ukraine, his adviser, Balazs Orban, has revealed.
EU leaders signed off on the mammoth four-year aid package earlier this month, after the Hungarian leader lifted his veto in exchange for some minor concessions from the bloc’s 26 other member states. These concessions included an annual debate on its implementation and a promise to review its impact on the EU budget after two years.
Before the package was approved, the Financial Times reported that the European Council had drawn up a plan to cut funding to Budapest and tank the Hungarian economy if Budapest maintained its veto.
Balazs Orban, who is not related to the prime minister, told Austria’s Exxpress newspaper on Saturday that multiple EU leaders phoned up Viktor Orban and “blatantly told him exactly this threat.”
“Leading politicians called my prime minister and explained this to him openly,” Orban told the newspaper. “We rejected this approach. It contradicts the basic idea of the EU. This is de-facto political rape.”
Speaking to France’s Le Point news magazine after the Financial Times article was published, Viktor Orban accused the European Council of attempting to “blackmail” him. He insisted that the council’s plan was real, but did not say whether he had been threatened by any EU heads of state.
According to the Financial Times, the EU planned on pulling funding from Hungary, thereby hampering its ability to subsidize foreign direct investment and eventually crashing the value of the Hungarian forint. The European Council refused to confirm or deny the existence of the plan, telling the newspaper that it does not comment on leaks.
“We…made it clear that we are not afraid,” Orban told Exxpress. “We think the Hungarian economy is strong enough.” The concessions won by Hungary are significant, he said, as Budapest will now “get information about what’s happening with the money and we’ll be able to talk about it every year.”
Viktor Orban and his officials have repeatedly argued that Ukraine cannot hope to defeat Russia on the battlefield, and that the EU’s anti-Russian sanctions hurt the bloc more than they hurt Moscow. In a speech earlier this week, Balazs Orban accused European leaders of serving Washington’s interests rather than their own by bankrolling Kiev, declaring that “Europe has been basically brought to its knees due to the attitude of the US.”
February 11, 2024 at 02:40AM