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The European Union wants to start formal talks with Ukraine on membership in June, Politico reports

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Brussels officials are pushing for formal negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the European Union to start in June, the Politico website reported on Tuesday. He added that Hungary faces renewed pressure to abandon its opposition to Kiev's candidacy.

According to Politico, diplomats are working hard behind the scenes to convince the Hungarian government to agree to start accession talks Ukraine to the EU. Five diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the goal was to start formal negotiations on June 25.

Opening talks would raise the morale of Ukrainians, who have been resisting a full-scale Russian invasion for over two years, writes the portal.

“Hungarians would prefer to have this over with before the presidency”

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EU leaders told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last December that they wanted Ukraine and Moldova joined the Community, bringing the number of member countries to 29. However, the formal legal procedure to start membership talks was held up by opposition Hungarian.

Kyiv was visited by the President of the European Parliament, Roberta MetsolaSergei Dolzhenko/PAP/EPA

According to diplomats, both Brussels and Kiev are engaging in intense bilateral diplomacy with Budapest to allay concerns about the Hungarian minority in Ukraine.

After April talks between Andriy Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian president's office, with the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter Szijjarto “the parties noted the positive dynamics of the dialogue,” according to the Ukrainian summary of the dialogue. According to one diplomat, Kiev responded to the list of 11 points presented by Budapest and is waiting for Hungary's response.

One EU diplomat believes that Hungary may want to get rid of the issue of accession talks with Ukraine before taking over the six-month presidency of the Council of the European Union in July. “There was a feeling that this should not be done before the European Parliament elections on June 9 because it could become an electoral issue,” an EU diplomat said, reflecting the sentiment among many officials in Brussels. “Now we are looking for this place in June. Hungarians would prefer to have this (discussions on Ukraine's membership) behind us before the presidency,” he adds.

Next step

After EU leaders have given Ukraine political support, the next step in the accession process is to start formal talks through an intergovernmental conference. This would mean the start of membership negotiations.

For this to happen, EU countries must agree on the so-called negotiation framework. 27 capitals have been negotiating this document since European Commission she sent it to them in March. So far, negotiations are going well at the technical level, said two diplomats, who expect the new draft to be sent to ambassadors to the EU in the coming weeks so they can iron out the most sensitive issues.

Viktor OrbánPAP/EPA/Szilard Koloricsak

Ukraine and its supporters in the EU are calling for an intergovernmental conference to be organized before Hungary takes over the rotating presidency of the EU Council on July 1.

As Politico writes, the Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán has been the biggest obstacle to implementing EU support for Ukraine over the last two years. He has repeatedly threatened to block decisions regarding EU financing of Ukraine, as well as accession negotiations and sanctions against it Russia. Before agreeing to the negotiating framework, Budapest wants to obtain more guarantees regarding improving the legal protection of the Hungarian minority in Ukraine.

At the same time, Hungarians care about a successful presidency of the EU Council, diplomats say. The Belgians, who currently hold the rotating presidency, are also trying to convince the Hungarians that it is in their political interest, and that they will also be able to block Ukraine's accession to the EU at a later date.

Main photo source: Sergei Dolzhenko/PAP/EPA

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