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Bloomberg: Orban may unblock Ukraine aid package in exchange for release of EU funds for Hungary

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk December 12, 2023 10:52 PM 2 min read
CERNOBBIO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 01: Balazs Orban Political Director of Prime Minister Viktor Orban's administration in Hungary in Cernobbio, Italy on Sept. 1, 2023 (Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
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Hungary is open to unblocking a huge EU funding package for Ukraine in exchange for releasing EU funding for Budapest, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's political advisor told Bloomberg on Dec. 12.

With EU budget discussions ongoing, Hungary remains opposed to a four-year 50 billion euro ($54 billion) support package for Ukraine. EU leaders are expected to reach a consensus on future assistance for Ukraine by the end of 2023.

"Hungary's EU funding and Ukraine's financing are two separate issues," Balazs Orban, of no relation to the prime minister, told Bloomberg. "But if the EU insists that Ukraine's financing should come from an amended EU budget, then the two issues become linked."

Rather than a four-year package, Budapest would prefer a single-year financing package for Ukraine, to which it would also "consider contributing," according to Orban.  

Reports emerged on Dec. 8 that the European Commission will unlock 10 billion euros ($10.7 billion) in frozen funds for Hungary after the government passed laws that strengthened judicial independence.

Sources told the Guardian the alleged release of Hungary's funds was unrelated to Budapest's "blackmailing" but admitted the timing was "unfortunate."

This sum constitutes about a third of Hungary's total suspended funding, around 30 billion euros. Orban told Bloomberg that Hungary wants the total amount.

Since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Hungary has repeatedly obstructed EU support for Kyiv, opposed sanctions against Russia, and now threatens to thwart Ukraine's EU aspirations.

Orban responds to Hungarians in Ukraine, offers substitute to EU membership
In his letter, Orban vowed that Hungary “will do everything in its power to protect the rights of the Hungarian community in Ukraine,” the Hungarian news portal hvg.hu reported.
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