Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary expressed his belief that Ukraine is very far from becoming a member of the EU. Furthermore, he stated that Budapest will not alter its stance on accession talks in exchange for a hypothetical unfreezing of funding by Brussels. He made these comments to Radio Kossuth on Friday, drawing a parallel between the distance Ukraine has from becoming an EU member and the great distance between the southeastern Hungarian town of Mako and Jerusalem, using a popular Hungarian idiom to make his point.
Historically, Mako, Hungary and the port of Akko in Israel, formerly known as Acre, were transitional points for European pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land. Orban’s use of this proverb reflects Hungary’s view of the seemingly insurmountable distance separating Ukraine from EU membership.
The Hungarian leader’s comments came after the European Commission recommended that the EU begin formal membership talks with Ukraine. Commission president Ursula von der Leyen asserted that the Ukrainian government had satisfied some 90% of Brussels’ requirements for it to move to the next phase.
Hungary has been a vocal critic of the EU’s positions on Ukraine, including its support for arming the country against Russia and the decision to decouple European economies from Russian supplies and market. Budapest argues that these actions have failed to end bloodshed in Ukraine and have had a more negative impact on EU member states than on Moscow.
However, critics of the Orban government argue that his position is a way to apply pressure on Brussels in a row over Hungarian domestic policies. The EU leadership has accused Budapest of regressing in terms of democracy and the rule of law under the current prime minister.
Amid speculation that Brussels was considering an offer to unfreeze funds worth €13 billion ($13.6 billion) for Hungary to secure its backing for delivering aid to Ukraine and for the membership talks, Orban rejected any potential deal and vowed not to initiate or accept it from Brussels. Additionally, he criticized the EU leadership for fulfilling the mandate of globalist elites rather than that of the people of member states. Orban believes that Brussels’ policies go against the interests of nations that make up the bloc.
In conclusion, Hungary’s firm stance on Ukraine’s potential accession to the EU continues to be a source of tension with the European Commission. Orban’s latest comments reflect his government’s unwavering commitment to its position, amidst accusations of using the issue as leverage to influence EU policy on Hungarian domestic matters. The ongoing debate underscores the complex dynamics at play in EU-Ukraine relations and the wider geopolitical implications of Ukraine’s potential EU membership.