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Ukraine: Hungarian PM Orban says EU should first sign strategic partnership with Ukraine


NEW DELHI: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said that the European Union should first sign a strategic partnership agreement with Ukraine instead of starting membership talks with the country.
The 27 leaders of the European Union are set to make a decision in mid-December regarding whether to endorse the European Commission’s suggestion to initiate membership talks with Kyivas soon as it fulfils the remaining conditions.The decision comes amid Kyiv’s efforts to resist Russia’s invasion.
Unanimity among all 27 members of the bloc is necessary for any such decision, with Hungary identified as the primary potential hurdle. The Hungarian prime minister has consistently stated that Hungary would not endorse the Commission’s proposal in its current state.
Orban on Friday restated that various issues must be addressed before initiating membership talks with Ukraine. He emphasised the complexity of the situation, making it challenging to evaluate the potential consequences of Ukraine’s membership on the bloc.
“If we don’t know (what consequences it would have) then we should not start talks… So I will represent the view that the EU should first sign a strategic partnership agreement with Ukraine,” Orban said in an interview on state radio.
“This (agreement) could last for up to 5-10 years, let’s bring them closer, as the gap is too wide now,” he said. “Let’s give time for us to work together, and when we see that we can work together, then let’s bring up the issue of membership.”
Orban’s suggestion follows a statement by EU officials on Thursday, indicating that Hungary was on the verge of restoring access to billions of euros in EU funds. Brussels had previously suspended the funds due to concerns that Budapest had undermined democratic checks and balances in the country.
The Hungarian prime minister called for a ceasefire in Ukraine and suggested that if the EU intended to provide additional funds to Ukraine, it should establish a distinct financial fund beyond the EU budget, structured on an intergovernmental agreement.
Everybody should put in the money that they want to, and we should send the money to Ukraine from (this fund),” he said, adding that sending financing to Ukraine to fight the war from the EU’s budget has overstretched the budget.
(With inputs from Reuters)

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