Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban was “temporarily absent” when the European Council decided to start accession negotiations with Ukraine. The head of the Hungarian government had previously declared his opposition, and the decision required unanimity of EU leaders. Orban’s absence was to be agreed upon in a “constructive way” between the leaders.
The European Council decided to start accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova. Georgia has been granted candidate country status, the President of the Council announced on Thursday Charles Michel. “This is a victory for Ukraine. A victory for all of Europe. A victory that motivates, inspires and strengthens,” the Ukrainian president wrote on social media Volodymyr Zelensky.
Unanimity of EU leaders was required to make this decision.
“Absence agreed in a constructive way”
Before the start of the summit, the Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán he declared that his country maintains its opposition to the start of accession talks with Ukraine. He justified his position by pointing out that – according to Budapest – Ukraine has met only three of the seven conditions set by the EU before starting accession negotiations, which means that there are no grounds to start such talks with Kiev.
Orban then met with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who persuaded the Hungarian leader to change his position.
As high-ranking EU diplomats later told journalists in Brussels, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban “was temporarily absent” when the decision to start accession talks with Ukraine was made. The sources also assure that this “absence” was previously agreed “in a constructive way.”
Diplomats also revealed that the German Chancellor was the author of this idea Olaf Scholz. When asked, they were unable to say whether such a precedent had ever occurred in the history of the EU. – The legal basis is the decision of the European Council on this matter, which was not blocked by any member of the European Council – they explained.
The information about Orban’s absence during the vote on Ukraine was confirmed by Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.
“Hungary did not want to participate in this bad decision”
The Hungarian leader himself, in a video posted on Facebook shortly after announcing the decision to start accession talks with Ukraine, said that this was – in his opinion – a bad step.
– The 26 member states were adamant that this decision must be taken. Hungary therefore decided that since 26 countries wanted it that way, they should go their own way. Hungary did not want to participate in this bad decision and therefore stayed away from it, explained Viktor Orban.
Main photo source: AP Photo/Omar Havana