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19 Jan, 2024 11:41

EU-Ukraine aid deal is far off – Hungarian official

Budapest will continue negotiating with the European Commission, but it’s unclear how fast an agreement can be reached, said Gergely Gulyas
EU-Ukraine aid deal is far off – Hungarian official

Hungary and the European Commission remain far apart on a multi-billion euro aid package for Ukraine, and there is no certainty that a deal could even be reached, Gergely Gulyas, the head of the Hungarian Prime Minister’s Office, has said.

Budapest is currently blocking a plan put forward by Brussels to fund Kiev to the tune of €50 billion ($54 billion) over the next four years. The veto placed by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has prompted discussions among EU lawmakers about how to strip Budapest of its voting rights on the issue.

Following a government meeting on Thursday Gulyas stated that Brussels’ and the European Commission’s impasse on Ukraine aid was “not a tragedy,” as reported by Hungarian outlet Telex.

He pointed out that a solution could be found in the 2026 framework and noted that Hungary has “not ruled out supporting Ukraine on a bilateral basis.” Budapest must strive for good relations with neighboring countries and look to improve ties with Kiev, Gulyas affirmed.

Previously, Prime Minister Orban had insisted that any EU support for Ukraine should be subject to an annual review of how Kiev actually spends the money and has demanded that the financing be done “outside the EU budget and on a yearly basis.”

“This is the only democratic position just five months before the [June European Parliament] elections,” said Orban in an X (formerly Twitter) post on Thursday, suggesting that MEPs who insist on greenlighting the aid as soon as possible “essentially want to strip people of their rights to make a decision on their future.”

Hungary’s veto on the EU’s Ukraine aid has been met with sharp criticism from European lawmakers who approved a resolution in the European Parliament on Thursday, condemning the “deliberate, continuous and systematic efforts of the Hungarian government to undermine the founding values of the EU.” The resolution also calls to punish Orban by suspending Budapest's voting rights in the EU. The resolution is not legally binding.

Meanwhile, Slovakia has vowed to stand by Hungary and not allow Kiev’s supporters in the EU to punish Budapest for defending its national interests. Prime Minister Robert Fico called Orban’s demands on providing annual and reviewable assistance to Ukraine “rational and sensible.”

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