Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and French President Emmanuel Macron played key roles in getting Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to agree to send 50 billion euros in aid to Ukraine, Politico reported on Feb. 1.
The crucial funding, known as the Ukraine Facility, was previously blocked by Orban during an EU summit last December.
According to reports, Meloni led conversations with Orbán due to their longstanding relationship, likely related to their shared right-wing political views.
“She tried several times to be a bridge and the impression is that this time it worked,” one of the sources told Politico.
Meloni allegedly began her diplomatic outreach with Orban months before Hungary initially obstructed the aid deal back in December. She reportedly led meetings and talks with various ministers and officials.
In the days before the current deal was reached, Meloni increased her efforts with Orban, speaking with him over the phone, meeting him at Brussels’ swanky Hotel Amigo for an hour-long chat, and again on Thursday morning before the meeting began.
President Macron also met with Orban on Wednesday night, following weeks of outreach with the Hungarian leader. Earlier this month, Macron reportedly tried to win Orban over during a lunch at the Elysée Palace in which they discussed how to better integrate Eastern EU countries.
Sources close to the French president, as well as non-French officials, emphasized that Macron played a key role in these negotiations.
“Macron never wanted to antagonize Orbán, but rather to get him on board. It is the approach that is paying off today,” one source revealed.
Hours before the deal was reached, Orban published a photo of his meeting with EU leaders, including EU Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Macron, and Meloni.
Soon after the announcement of the deal, the Hungarian leader stated that he agreed to the package because it allowed him to ensure that "Hungary's funds will not end up in Ukraine."