What Should Ukraine Do to Overcome Orbán's Veto and Start EU Accession Negotiations

Wednesday, 22 November 2023

On the Day of Dignity and Freedom, two foreign leaders visited Ukraine – President of Moldova Maia Sandu and President of the European Council Charles Michel.

They were to discuss with the Ukrainian President how to keep the momentum if someone decides to block the start of EU accession negotiations of Ukraine and Moldova.

Both Ukrainian sources and officials in Brussels openly discuss the possibility of such a scenario.

The three leaders following theor meeting in Kyiv emphasised that a negative outcome is by no means guaranteed.

Read more on the risks of blocking the start of EU accession negotiations of Ukraine and Moldova in the analysis by Sergiy Sydorenko, European Pravda editor – Orbán's Move. How Kyiv and Brussels Prepare for Blockade of EU Accession Talks.

"There is no problem yet," Volodymyr Zelenskyy began his answer on Tuesday evening to EuroPravda's question. We asked how Ukraine planned to prevent a negative scenario, in which Ukraine cannot start accession negotiations at the EU summit in December.

The whole answer and the word "yet" in the president's denial, as well as the rest of the statements after the negotiations between Zelenskyy, Michel and Sandu, clearly indicate that the situation is not cloudless.

Decisions on the EU enlargement are made exclusively by the consensus of member states.

European Pravda's sources indicate that sceptical hints were voiced not only by representatives of the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán during the preliminary consultations in Brussels. There are also questions regarding Austria. Although it has no real claims against Ukraine, there is a danger that Kyiv will become a hostage to geopolitics. Supposedly, in exchange for greenlighting Ukraine, Vienna wants more progress for the Western Balkans.

The EU-Western Balkans Summit is scheduled just before the vote on Ukraine – on 13 December. EU leaders will discuss Ukraine on 14 December.

However, Orbán remains the main obstacle. He is the only EU leader publicly promising to block Ukraine's progress towards the EU.

The sources hint, but only privately, that Orbán may consciously play into the hands of the Russian leader by blocking Ukraine.

Of course, no one can speak with certainty, but Hungary changed its stance after Orbán's personal meeting with Putin in Beijing on 17 October.

EuroPravda requested Zelenskyy and Michel to comment on whether Orbán may actually represent the interests of Russia remained without a direct answer. However, the President of the European Council hinted eloquently enough.

We asked: "Do you understand that a veto will not come from Orbán but from Putin?" He responded briefly: "Our decisions confirm that Russia fails to intimidate the EU... And so I am confident that we will find a common answer. It will be positive."

We must acknowledg that there is indeed a chance to overcome the Hungarian veto.

Facing the threat of greater losses, including financial ones, Hungary may abandon its plans and reluctantly give its consent to starting accession negotiations with Ukraine. Orbán can then tell Putin that he "fought like a lion," but other European states put him in a deadlock.

This is the European component of the "recipe for victory" at the December summit.

It is necessary to remove the possibility of criticism of Ukraine from other member states to isolate Budapest. This is possible only if Ukraine demonstrates exemplary compliance with the EU conditions. This signal Charles Michel brought to Kyiv. It was literally reiterated at the press conference after the negotiations between Maia Sandu and Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

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