12 Dec 2023 09:59

Hungary remains opposed to starting Ukraine's EU accession talks - Hungarian FM

BRUSSELS. Dec 12 (Interfax) - Hungary will not yield to pressure from European Union countries to make Budapest support the start of talks with Ukraine on its possible EU accession, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Monday.

"The topic of this week's debate will mostly be Ukraine. Most European politicians want to make significant decisions that are completely underdeveloped, but which represent strategic agreements on the future of Europe," Szijjarto said on Facebook (the information resource of an organization banned in Russia) ahead of the EU summit.

"We continue to make our decisions in accordance with European and national interests and do not permit any kind of pressure, regardless of who it comes from, or blackmail," he added.

European media have noted how pressure is mounting on Hungary ahead of the EU leaders' summit to make the country drop its objections to the launch of Ukraine's accession talks with the EU.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said last week that he remains opposed to the start of EU talks on Ukraine's membership in the bloc, in particular because of Kiev's problems with corruption.

"Ukraine is known to be one of the most corrupt countries in the world. This [the claim that Kiev has complied with the EU's requirements] is a joke! We can't make a decision on starting an accession negotiating process," Orban said in an interview with the French publication Le Point.

He described the European Commission's report saying that Kiev has met four of the seven preconditions as "a lie."

Ukraine's accession to the EU would increase pressure on the EU's budget and would have negative effects for the union's agricultural sector, Orban said.

Asked whether he would be prepared to be more flexible on a number of matters related to Ukraine if the European Commission unfreezes the 10 million euros intended for Hungary, Orban replied, "When there's a dilemma, I usually consider three categories, namely a historical, strategic, and tactical one."

"The issue of Ukraine is a major historical issue. The financial issue is a tactical one. My forty-year political experience has taught me that you should never tie tactical issues, such as money, to historical issues. If you do that, you risk getting chaos. Therefore, I don't want to reach a consensus on the issue of Ukraine, but I am prepared to do it on other issues," he said.

Orban has lately made a number of statements calling on the EU not to undertake steps toward Ukraine's integration with Europe before an EU summit scheduled for December 14-15 agrees upon a common strategy on Ukraine, threatening otherwise to block further assistance to the country and its accession to the EU.