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Metsola: EU works to avoid 'hard no' on Ukraine's accession talks

by Martin Fornusek December 14, 2023 4:00 PM 2 min read
European Parliament President Roberta Metsola arrives for a summit of European Union leaders in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023. (Ksenia Kuleshova/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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The European Council summit must address various concerns pertaining to Ukraine's EU membership in order to avoid a "hard no" on the accession talks, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said during a press conference on Dec. 14.

Hungary said it would oppose the launch of the negotiations talks during the two-day summit, pointing out that Ukraine is embroiled in a war and has not fulfilled all the seven recommendations presented by Brussels.

A key point of dispute is Ukraine's language law, which Budapest claims is discriminatory toward Ukraine's Hungarian minority, an accusation that Kyiv denies.

Commenting on Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban's concerns, Metsola pointed out that Ukraine made progress on the minority issues.

Kyiv recently adopted amendments to the national minorities law based on recommendations of the Venice Commission, an advisory body to the Council of Europe.

EU unblocks 10 billion euros for Hungary, but Orban’s support for Ukraine still unclear
The EU Commission said that Hungary had fulfilled a specific set of judiciary reforms necessary to access the 10 billion euros in funding.

Metsola added that disagreements are common during European Council discussions on related topics, such as sanctions packages against Russia: "We've always wondered whether there would be unanimity, and indeed there was."

Speaking to Ukrainian journalists, Metsola emphasized moral responsibility tied to financial support for Ukraine and the decision on the accession talks. Closing the door to Ukraine would be a direct gift to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, she noted.

The head of the EU's legislative body said that both Ukraine and Moldova have delivered on the needed reforms under "most difficult conditions."

Metsola warned against inaction on the EU's side: "If we leave a vacuum, it will be filled with other actors with agendas very different than ours."

"The European Parliament's position is very clear: enlargement strengthens our continent. It is an investment in peace; it is an investment in security," she stressed.

Von der Leyen praises Ukraine’s recent reforms on path toward EU
“Our enlargement report from last month showed clear progress on all steps that we had identified,” von der Leyen said in the European Parliament ahead of the Dec. 14-15 EU summit.
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