Meloni, Orban to discuss Hungary's position on Ukraine in closed-door meeting – Bloomberg
Giorgia Meloni and Viktor Orbán (Photo: EPA)

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni will try to convince Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orbán to abandon his opposition to EU support for Ukraine and improve relations with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, reported Bloomberg with reference to sources who are familiar with the progress of the negotiations.

The Prime Minister of Hungary was the only one to veto the EU funding package in December 2023, postponing key support for Ukraine in the amount of 50 million euros. The European Union will review the four-year funding agreement at an emergency summit on February 1, 2024.

According to the sources of the publication, the result of Meloni's negotiations with Orban could be the joining of Orban's right-wing party Fidesz to the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), a pan-European coalition of far-right political parties. The ECR includes Meloni's Brothers of Italy party, Poland's Law and Justice (PiS) party, and the nationalist Sweden Democrats. The addition of Fidesz will give the ECR party an advantage in the summer elections to the European Parliament.

Meloni is also trying to convince Orbán to improve his relationship with President Zelenskyy, Bloomberg's sources said. Hungary will have to change its policy regarding Ukraine's hopes for EU accession as a condition for Fidesz joining the ECR.

The publication noted that Orbán's press secretary did not respond to a request for comment. A representative from Meloni's office declined to comment.

Orbán has repeatedly stated that Budapest opposes the start of negotiations regarding Ukraine's accession to the bloc. According to the EU statute, this decision can only be taken by a full consensus of all member states, so European and Ukrainian officials tried to convince Orbán not to vote against it.

On the morning of December 14, Orban promised that Hungary would block the negotiations, but in the evening, despite Hungary's position, the European Council gave the "green light" to negotiations on the accession of Ukraine and Moldova to the EU.

On Tuesday, the Hungarian government headed by Prime Minister Orbán put forward a new demand to unlock 50 billion euros for Ukraine. According to three unnamed European diplomats interviewed by Politico, Budapest could lift its veto on the condition that the funding be reviewed annually.