Hungary’s Orban Criticizes Ukraine’s Acceptance Into EU

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban continues to be a thorn in the side of European Union progressives who insist on fast-tracking Ukraine’s ascension into the bloc.

Orban threw cold water on the rapid start of negotiations for Kyiv’s membership in the EU. He called the prospect “unrealistic” as Ukraine is engaged in a protracted war with Russia.

In 2022, Ukraine was granted EU candidate status in a quick decision by the multinational group. Expansion is generally a painstaking process that takes years for prospective member nations.

Negotiations on Ukraine’s membership by the European Council are expected to begin in December. Acceptance requires a positive vote from all 27 EU member nations, a fact that Orban quickly reminded his colleagues to consider.

Ukraine hopes to join the body within two years, though it would need the approval of the Hungarian parliament.

The Independent reported that Orban cast doubt on that timetable. “I don’t feel the insurmountable desire for the Hungarian parliament to vote for Ukraine’s membership [in] the European Union within two years. So I would be careful with these ambitious plans,” he reportedly said.

There is also word that Hungary is not ready to rescind its veto on a major military package for Kyiv.

The foreign minister said Wednesday that Budapest wants assurances from Ukraine that a Hungarian bank will not be readded to a list of institutions accused of sponsoring Russia’s war. The OTP Bank was recently removed from that designation.

Hungary’s Foreign Ministry invited Ukraine’s anti-corruption agency to visit and discuss OTP Bank’s status.

Officials indicated that if a favorable decision guaranteeing no future action will be taken, “then we will of course have to consider what steps this justifies on our part.”

Ukraine’s action in May concerned OTP’s continued operations in Russia which resulted in paying taxes to the Kremlin.

This led to Hungary blocking a hefty EU military aid package to Kyiv shortly after, and the government pledged not to alter its veto until the move against OTP was changed. That was done temporarily last week, but that action by Ukraine’s anti-corruption agency did not satisfy Budapest.

Orban has ties with Russia and frequently argues against EU sanctions and military shipments. However, he has not used the nation’s veto to stop the sanctions.