Scholz suggests Orban "grab a coffee" during the vote on negotiations with Ukraine – Politico
Viktor Orbán and Olaf Scholz (Photo: EPA)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has suggested that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán leave the EU summit hall while other leaders vote to support the start of formal EU accession talks with Ukraine, Politico reports, citing three officials.

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According to the publication, after about three hours, the discussion between EU leaders regarding Ukraine's accession to the bloc came to an impasse. Then the Chancellor of Germany offered Orbán to "grab a coffee outside the room."

Journalists noted that when Orbán briefly left the room, the remaining 26 EU leaders were able to vote unanimously in support of Ukraine. EU rules allow this to be done, and Orbán was able to stand his ground and say that he did not vote for it, the newspaper reported.

Read also: Orban left the hall during the vote on Ukraine in the EU. This was suggested by Scholz – Politico

According to Politico interlocutors, Scholz's strategy caused surprise in Brussels. EU officials and diplomats at Thursday's summit could not say whether Scholz had used such a move before.

"He used an old trick from his time with the Young Socialists," said one official at the EU summit.

One of the interlocutors said that Orbán's position began to fluctuate during a joint breakfast with Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

During the breakfast, Orban tried to provide some arguments that Ukraine "suffers from a deficiency of the rule of law", which is why it is not ready for accession, the journalists wrote.

"After several hours during which the other 26 leaders debunked all of Orbán's arguments, Scholz came at just the right time with his proposal," one EU diplomat added.

Read also: Orban demands EU funds for Hungary in exchange for aid to Ukraine: "We will get everything we deserve"

After that, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Scholz on X (formerly Twitter) "for Germany's leadership role and his personal efforts."

"Germany's support for Ukraine is growing by the day. We see it and will always remember it," Zelenskyy wrote.

The German chancellor replied to Zelenskyy and assured that "Germany stands firmly by Ukraine’s side – as long as it takes."

Orbán has repeatedly stated that official 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, Orbán promised that Hungary would block the negotiations, but in the evening, despite Hungary's position, the European Council gave the "green light" to the negotiations on the accession of Ukraine and Moldova to the EU.

On December 15, the political advisor to the Prime Minister of Hungary, Baláš Orbán, threatened the European Union with further blackmail from Budapest in the context of Ukraine's accession to the EU.

Read also: EU approves launch of Ukraine accession talks in major step forward