Ukraine ‘one of the most corrupt countries in the world’ – EU state's PM
Ukraine is “one of the most corrupt countries in the world,” Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico told reporters on Friday following an EU summit in Brussels, raising doubts about the bloc’s unprecedented funding to Kiev.
In particular, Fico questioned the wisdom of an additional €50 billion ($52.9 billion) earmarked for Ukraine in the EU’s proposed budget, asking rhetorically, “Did the financing of Ukraine change the outcome of this war? So let’s invest another 50 billion, and it doesn’t matter what happens?”
The prime minister agreed to increase Slovakia’s contribution to the EU by about €400 million over the next four years, but only if the EU could promise it would not be stolen by Kiev.
“Ukraine is among the most corrupt countries in the world and we are conditioning what is excessive financial support on guarantees that European money (including Slovak) not be embezzled,” Fico told assembled journalists.
Noting that the EU had no “peace plan” and that the leaders of several member countries had been “driven into a dead end” due to a lack of coherence on how to move forward, he said that a blank check to Ukraine would be a hard sell back home in Slovakia.
“If the strategy is to continue to pour money there, €1.5 billion per month without any result, and we have to cut our own resources? After all, we have huge problems, and public money is in a difficult state,” Fico explained.
In return for Slovakia’s increased contribution, Fico also required that there be no cuts to funds intended to support farmers, that the increased budget would be used to fight illegal immigration and increase EU competitiveness, that Slovak companies receive some of the contracts to rebuild Ukraine, and that the restoration of border infrastructure between the two nations be prioritized.
The Slovak PM is not the only EU leader who has balked at the bloc's continuing efforts to bolster Kiev financially. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban declared at the summit on Friday that the strategy of sending billions in aid had failed. “The Ukrainians will not win on the battlefield,” he said, vowing not to endorse the budget revision allocating another €50 billion.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto earlier this week condemned what he described as the EU’s “war psychosis,” accusing Brussels of planning for four years of conflict with massive arms spending, including possible military investment in Ukraine, without any funding or effort put toward resolving hostilities.