Hungary’s threat to veto €18 billion in Ukraine aid has sent shockwaves through the Western liberal bloc, with Berlin, Brussels and Washington going into panic mode. Left-liberal leaders across Europe are now hurling accusations at the Hungarian government.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock claimed during a speech in Slovenia that this move amounted to blackmail, and accused Hungary of playing “poker” and using its “bag of tricks.”
“There is no time for games now. If we are in a situation where peace in Europe is under threat, we must do everything we can every day and every hour to protect our people, and, moreover, to protect Ukrainians,” said Baerbock.
Slovenian Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon backed Baerbock’s comments against Orbán, saying that “blackmail is unacceptable.”
The comments follow a string of comments from EU officials, who also accused Hungary of “blackmail.”
Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó wrote in response to Baerbock’s statements on Facebook:
“Hungary’s position on Ukraine’s accession to the European Union is well thought-out and well-founded, and there is no blackmail or even ‘games’ in it. We firmly refuse to confuse things that have nothing to do with each other,” he wrote.
He continued by saying that “we still do not see — neither the Hungarian people, nor the Hungarian parliament, nor the Hungarian government — why it would be good for Europe to prematurely start accession negotiations with Ukraine.”
Szijjártó stressed that he should remind the German foreign minister that Hungary will not change its position on EU membership for Ukraine under any pressure and suggested that the EU remove the proposal to start negotiations with Ukraine from the agenda of next week’s Brussels meetings in order to maintain European unity.
During a visit to Slovenia on Tuesday, Baerbock urged Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to drop his veto on beginning accession negotiations with Ukraine.
EU critics of Orbán accuse Hungary of holding up aid and EU membership for Ukraine due to nearly €20 billion in frozen funds due to Hungary. The EU is claiming Hungary cannot gain access to the funds until “rule-of-law” reforms are implemented.
Hungary, as an EU member state, has the power to veto foreign aid, which places enormous pressure on the EU to respond. However, Hungary argues that the issue surrounding EU funds owed to it is a separate issue from EU funding for Ukraine.