Politico, citing numerous diplomats, noted that French President Emmanuel Macron is optimistic about the possibility of persuading Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to change his position on supporting Ukraine before the December 14-15 summit of EU leaders.
"We have reached a state where thinking that Orbán is just asking for more money is the "optimistic" take," said a senior EU diplomat who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity.
According to the puplication, European diplomats are divided over whether the Hungarian leader really intends to derail support for Ukraine or is simply trying to blackmail Brussels.
While some diplomats and EU officials are already planning workarounds or trying to counter negative press coverage that may appear after the European Council's failure next week, others remain optimistic that they will find a way out of the situation, the publication said. Politico noted that Macron belongs to the latter group.
The French president, according to the publication, hopes that he and Orbán will be able to reach a compromise by next week at a dinner in Paris.
"The Hungarians are taking some tough positions, they are building up negotiating leverage. If they are doing this, it is to give Viktor Orbán margins to negotiate … Now we are entering a more active phase of the negotiation, with higher level talks [between Orbán and Macron]," said the French diplomat.
Another interlocutor noted that Hungary's actions "only make sense if it’s to find a way out." According to several French officials, Orbán's decision to accept the invitation to share bread with Macron is in itself a positive sign.
However, Politico noted that the proposed dinner also drew criticism.
"He keeps trying it and keeps failing. He tried it with Trump, then with Putin, and has been trying Orbán. They keep feeding the monster and wonder why it comes back bigger and asking for mor," another EU diplomat said, adding that at the price these last special relations became Orbán's concessions, which weakened the EU.
According to the publication, one of the interlocutors admitted that "Macron has a soft spot for bad boys. It challenges him intellectually."
Politico noted that one senior EU official was confident there was still a path to a deal.
"Every action that I’ve seen so far from Prime Minister Orbán was always thought through and there was a way out for him," he added.
On November 22, Orbán threatened to block all European Union aid to Ukraine, as well as the country's future accession to the bloc, unless EU leaders agree to review their support strategy for Ukraine.
On December 6, Orban's party submitted to the parliament a resolution against negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the European Union.