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Orban suggests putting off Ukraine’s EU membership

The Hungarian PM has advocated a strategic partnership with Kiev instead, to bring it closer to the bloc

The European Union should not launch membership talks with Ukraine just yet, but establish a strategic partnership instead, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said. This transitional period, which could last up to a decade, is needed to bridge the chasm that exists between Ukraine and the bloc at present, he explained.

In a state radio interview on Friday, Orban argued that “if we don’t know [what consequences it would have], then we should not start talks.” He added that the EU should “sign a strategic partnership agreement with Ukraine” first, which could last between 5 and 10 years.

Meanwhile, Politico cited anonymous officials as saying that Orban’s maverick position could lead to a “major crisis” within the union. The outlet noted that the

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European Commission has already recommended that Kiev’s accession process move forward, with the issue expected to dominate the European Council summit from December 14-15. 

Since the unanimous consent of all 27 member states is needed for any decision, Hungary could theoretically block the entire process with its veto.  

“Let’s bring them closer, as the gap is too wide now,” the Hungarian prime minister said.

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Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg
EU state warns against fast-tracking Ukraine into bloc

Politico quoted several anonymous EU officials, with one warning that the bloc is “heading toward a major crisis” because of Budapest’s staunch opposition to Brussels’ policies vis-a-vis Ukraine. 

Aside from the prospect of accession negotiations, a massive €50 billion aid package for Ukraine is also likely to be discussed at the summit – a proposal that does not sit well with Orban either. 

Last week, the Hungarian leader claimed that the West was wrong when it banked on Ukraine prevailing over Russia on the battlefield. He said that “where we are now, it is obvious that the Ukrainians will not win on the front line.” 

“The Russians will not lose. There will be no political change in Moscow. This is the reality,” Orban predicted. 

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Earlier in November, Politico reported that Orban had warned European Council President Charles Michel that his country would block any discussions on Ukraine’s accession, as well as further aid, unless Brussels reassessed “the implementation and effectiveness of our current policies towards Ukraine.” 

December 01, 2023 at 09:14PM
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