Orbán threatens to block EU’s Ukraine policy

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has threatened to veto the start of EU accession talks with Ukraine. The final decision is to be made at the EU summit in Brussels in mid-December, where a vote will also be held on whether to approve a further 50 billion euros in aid for Ukraine. Commentators discuss what Orbán is trying to achieve with his threat.

Népszava (HU) /

Unsound arguments

The reasons given by the Hungarian government don’t hold water, says Népszava:

“Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said that if Ukraine were to join the EU, war would ‘enter the Union’. These statements are intended more for domestic consumption and should also please the Kremlin. The step of starting accession negotiations is along way away from the moment when a country actually becomes a candidate country. Ukraine is not yet ready for EU membership, and nor did the EU Commission’s report claim it was.”

Tamás Rónay
Magyar Hang (HU) /

Better to play along

Hungary could be putting obstacles in its own path with a blockade policy, warns Magyar Hang:

“The accession process would offer Ukraine a vision for the future, a perspective that the Hungarian government would deprive the country of by blocking its progress in this process. It would also deprive itself, as an EU member, of the opportunity to force the Ukrainian side to fulfil the criteria of the rule of law, curb corruption and, above all, guarantee the rights of the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia within the organised framework of the accession negotiations.”

Szabolcs Szerető
Kurier (AT) /

Calculated blackmail

The EU still has no effective remedy against Budapest’s disruptive tactics, Kurier laments:

“After years of helplessly watching Orbán strip Hungary of its ‘liberal’ credentials bit by bit, Brussels hoped last year that it had finally found an effective punishment for the champion of ‘illiberal democracy’: it is withholding more than 20 billion euros in funds until — so the expectation — the Orbán system finds its way back onto the common European path. The problem is that if the EU doesn’t give Hungary the money, Orbán will get awkward.”

Ingrid Steiner-Gashi