Hungary is threatening to block tens of billions of dollars in European Union aid to Ukraine and has said it will use its veto power to block its EU membership process. The warnings come at a time when relations between Budapest and Brussels have deteriorated. As Voice of America correspondent Henry Ridgwell reports, the President of the European Council visited Hungary on Monday in an effort to calm relations, while the high-level meeting of the European Council is expected to be held in December.
Hungary has brought problems to the European Union for a long time.
As the campaign approaches for the upcoming European elections to be held in June next year, the Hungarian government has undertaken a personal attack on the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, by putting up large billboards featuring her alongside Alex Soros. of the son of the liberal financier, of Hungarian origin George Soros, another subject that is repeatedly attacked. The sign reads “Let’s not dance to their rhythm”.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban escalated his attacks on the European Union during a speech at the congress of his party, Fidesz, recently.
“I am convinced that Brussels, Europe is being destroyed. It is leading to collapse,” said Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
European Council President Charles Michel held a meeting with Prime Minister Orban on Monday. None of them spoke to the media.
The EU is continuing to block about $24 billion in aid to Hungary, due to concerns about the independence of the judiciary and freedom of the press in this country.
In a letter addressed to the President of the European Council Charles Michel last week, Prime Minister Orban, according to reports, has threatened to block the European Union aid package for Ukraine in the amount of 50 billion dollars.
He has also stated that he will veto to block Ukraine’s EU membership, in the event that European leaders do not agree to completely review the strategy of supporting Kiev. Analysts say such a policy could backfire.
“Orban continues to isolate himself within the European Union and this causes difficulties. It causes difficulties not only in the symbolic sense, but also in the economic aspect. The Hungarian economy is not in good shape, the lack of funds from the EU, the blocking of funds due to concerns about the justice system. The opposing position of the government in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and critical positions towards the EU have played an important role in the decision to block the funds”, says Peter Kreko from the “Political Capital” institute.
Last week, Brussels released a billion dollars from frozen funds to try to overcome Hungary’s objections, but it remains unclear whether that will be enough.
EU leaders will meet on December 14 to discuss the opening of talks on Ukraine’s application for membership in the bloc.
Hungary has said that talks cannot take place as long as the country is at war and has called on Kiev to seek peace negotiations with Moscow. Ukraine has declared that it will not start the negotiations without first leaving the Russian troops from its territory.
“Ukrainians simply judge that Russia cannot be trusted. Therefore, they see membership in the EU and NATO as the only guarantee for security, not just for Ukraine, but for lasting peace and security in Europe”, says Olga Tokariuk from the “Chatham House” institute.
Blocking EU aid to Kiev, or vetoing Ukraine’s bid for membership, would further increase the risk of deepening the increasingly bitter disagreements between Budapest and Brussels.
Analysts say Prime Minister Orban could also be boosted by the election victory of like-minded leaders in Slovakia and the Netherlands, who have also expressed skepticism about EU support for Ukraine.