Euractiv: EU may postpone start of Ukraine's accession talks to March 2024 due to Hungary
Viktor Orban (Photo: ERA)

The start of negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the European Union may be postponed until March 2024 due to Hungary's position. This was reported by Euractiv with reference to high-ranking EU diplomats.

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At the EU leaders' summit on December 14–15, 2023, several issues related to Ukraine will be discussed. The first is the start of EU accession negotiations, as well as the provision of €50 billion in economic support and another €20 billion for Ukraine's army.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has already announced that he will block the issue of Ukraine. He demands from the EU a "strategic discussion" regarding support for Kyiv, the journalists wrote.

European diplomats believe that Orbán supported the applications of Georgia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to join the EU, but they will fail if Hungary vetoes Ukraine.

"Our feeling was that Orbán always knew how far he could go and that he would know exactly when it was time to climb down the tree," said a senior EU diplomat.

According to the newspaper, those officials who expect Orban to budge say that a possible compromise would be to postpone the start of negotiations with Ukraine until March 2024 on final terms. Others, however, fear that the Hungarian leader will not be convinced this time.

The publication also emphasized that securing new financial assistance from Europe is critical amid problems with the approval of funding in the United States.

Read also: Hungary against Europe, it can plunge the EU into dark times – the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania

"We are in a key moment," said a senior EU official, referring to the situation on the battlefield and the fact that the US Congress did not approve President Joe Biden's $60 billion aid package for Ukraine.

Another interlocutor in the publication noted that clear and full support for Ukraine from the European Union is very important.

"That message wouldn’t be only for Moscow, it would also be a message for Washington; it would also be a message for Kyiv," he said.

The journalists noted that some EU members insist that the summit should at least promise to allocate five billion euros to Ukraine through the European Peace Fund next year.

However, according to the newspaper, some Brussels diplomats believe that the bloc will avoid the worst-case scenario and fulfill some of the promises made to Ukraine.

"Will it be difficult? Yes. Will it be extremely difficult? Most likely. Will there be blood in the air at some point? Probably. But I continue to think it’s possible to find solutions," said a second senior EU official.

REFERENCE. The European Peace Fund was established in March 2021 to finance all Common Foreign and Security Policy measures related to military and defense matters. The EMF allows the EU to finance actions aimed at strengthening the capacity of non-EU countries. The fund is an off-budget instrument and had a total financial limit of five billion euros in 2018 prices for the period 2021-2027.

Ukraine acquired the status of a candidate country for joining the European Union in 2022. At the same time, the European Commission provided Ukraine with an action plan that must be implemented in order to start negotiations on joining the EU.

On November 8, the European Commission recommended starting negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova on joining the bloc.

On December 11, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba will meet with his Hungarian colleague Peter Sijarto for the first time since the beginning of the Great War. Kuleba said that at the summit of the European Council, which will be held on December 14-15, Western leaders will consider four issues related to Ukraine and its European integration.

In the guest box of the Parliament of Argentina, President Zelenskyy met and spoke briefly with the Prime Minister of Hungary, Orbán.