Hungary has put a temporary halt to a vital aid package for Ukraine. This decision came just hours after European Union leaders had agreed to commence membership discussions with Kyiv. Hungary's move underscores the complexities of EU decision-making and the divergent views among member states on crucial issues.
Hungary's Stance: A Lone Dissent
Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary announced his country's veto of the additional financial support for Ukraine in a post on X, a social media platform. The statement followed a late-night session at the EU Council in Brussels.
"Summary of the nightshift: veto for the extra money to Ukraine,” Orban wrote. “We will come back to the issue next year in the #EUCO after proper preparation”.This decision by Hungary marks a distinct departure from the consensus among the other 26 EU member states.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte pointed out Hungary's solitary opposition to the proposed aid package, which is reported by Reuters to be worth around 50 billion euros ($55 billion). Despite this setback, Rutte expressed optimism about the future of the funding.
He believes there is still time to reach an agreement, as Ukraine is not in immediate financial distress.
"This is a good outcome. We still have some time," Rutte commented, adding, "I am fairly confident that we can get to a breakthrough early next year."
EU Expansion: A Step Forward for Moldova and Georgia
Earlier in the week, Orban had raised concerns about Ukraine's readiness for EU membership talks, stating that Kyiv had yet to fulfill necessary conditions.
"Hungary’s position is clear; Ukraine is not prepared to start negotiations on EU Membership,” Orban asserted. This view, however, stood in contrast to the majority opinion within the EU.In a more unifying development, Charles Michel, President of the EU Council, confirmed that accession negotiations would begin with Moldova.
Additionally, the EU granted candidate status to Georgia, another former Soviet state. This expansion reflects the EU's ongoing commitment to integrating Eastern European nations into its fold. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky greeted the news of the membership talks with enthusiasm.
"This is a victory for Ukraine. A victory for all of Europe," Zelensky posted on X. He emphasized the historical significance of this decision, remarking, "History is made by those who don’t get tired of fighting for freedom."