Ukraine Is Not Ready for EU Membership Talks – Hungarian PM

Friday, 10 November 2023

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has said the European Union should not start EU accession negotiations with Ukraine, adding that this is Hungary's "clear" stance.

"Membership talks must not be started, this is the clear Hungarian stance," Reuters cites remarks made by Orbán on Hungarian state radio

The Hungarian PM said a dispute between the EU and Hungary over billions of euros of funds from Brussels suspended for Budapest due to concerns over the rule of law cannot be linked to Hungary's support for Ukraine's accession to the EU.

"I would like to make it very clear that the Hungarian rejection of the start of talks with Ukraine over EU membership is not subject to a business deal ...It cannot be linked to the issue of funds that Hungary is entitled to get," he stressed.

The Hungarian leader believes that Ukraine is not ready to hold talks on EU membership, claiming that "Kyiv is far from the EU", hvg.hu reports.

"Ukraine is in no way ready to hold EU membership talks. Ukraine is as far away from EU membership as Makó [a town in southeastern Hungary] is from Jerusalem," he said.

This year, Orbán's government has faced economic stagnation and a growing budget deficit as Hungary struggles to recover from Europe's highest inflation rate, which exceeded 25% in the first quarter.

In mid-December, EU leaders must decide whether to accept the European Commission's recommendation to invite Kyiv to start membership talks as soon as it meets the four conditions.

Any such decision requires the unanimity of all 27 EU member states, and Hungary is the main potential obstacle to approval.

The Hungarian government previously stated that the EU should not start membership talks with Ukraine because it failed to fulfil the conditions.

Orbán also said Budapest would block the start of EU accession talks with Ukraine until Hungary's language requirements are met.

In addition, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó claimed that Ukraine's accession to the EU as long as the war is ongoing would bring the war to "the community, which is something that obviously no one wants".

Last month, the Financial Times reported that senior EU officials are considering disbursing around €13 billion in EU funds to Hungary which are currently blocked due to unresolved rule-of-law issues.

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