US Hails ‘Historic’ EU Membership Talks For Ukraine After Hungary’s Orban Caves

US Hails ‘Historic’ EU Membership Talks For Ukraine After Hungary’s Orban Caves

The White House has welcomed a “historic” move by the EU to initiate membership talks with Ukraine. For Kiev, this is a major breakthrough which it has been lobbying hard for throughout nearly two years of the Russian invasion, which has served to fast-track something previously only thought impossible, given that Ukraine remains ranked among the top most corrupt countries in Europe and the world.

“We welcome the EU’s historic decision to open accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova, a crucial step toward fulfilling their Euro-Atlantic aspirations,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan announced on X Thursday, within hours after European Union leaders officially agreed to open up formal accession talks. The decision marks a huge reversal which came during a Brussels summit of the EU’s 27 leaders. European Council President Charles Michel called it “a clear signal of hope for their people and our continent” during a press briefing. 

European Council President Charles Michel briefing the press in Brussels on Thursday, via the AP.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the development as “a victory for Ukraine. A victory for all of Europe”however, most observers say that it will likely be years down the road, or even possibly decades, before Ukraine reaches its goal of full EU membership. 

It follows closely on the heels of the Ukrainian president’s somewhat lackluster trip to Washington where he met with Biden and Congressional leaders, but failed to successfully lobby GOP holdouts to swiftly pass Biden’s requested $106 billion defense aid package. “History is made by those who don’t get tired of fighting for freedom,” Zelensky said of the EU breakthrough. Kiev is against the ropes militarily, but this serves as a major consolation prize at the difficult moment.

Importantly, EU accession talks have at the same time been opened for the tiny eastern European state of Moldova, which Western leaders have also warned is in Moscow’s crosshairs for political change.

Donald Tusk has just returned to the prime minister’s office in Poland, rolling back years of Polish conservative rule, and in his first European Council summit since said: “Dear Volodymyr Zelenskyy, we did it! I dedicate our today’s decision on enlargement to your heroes who gave their lives for an independent and European Ukraine.”

But it was Hungary’s Viktor Orbán who entered the proceeding as a ‘pariah’ figure – having long vowed to block Ukraine’s EU aspirations. Going into the summit, his office had said firmly: “The European Union is about to make a terrible mistake and they must be stopped — even if 26 of them want to do it, and we are the only ones against it.” He emphasized, “This is a mistake, we are destroying the European Union.”

But apparently at the end of the day Hungary used this leverage to get what it wants out of EU leaders. Orban’s administration is vowing future roadblocks, BUT for now:

Meanwhile, in a move critics have described as a bribe, the European Commission unfroze around 10 billion euros earmarked for Hungary, arguing that the country successfully completed judicial reforms.

So in the end a pragmatic Eurocratic quid pro quo won out, amid apprehension that Hungary’s veto would dominate the whole proceedings. Instead, with the 10 billion euros secured, the Hungarian delegation with Orban at the helm simply walked out of the summit, having abstained from the vote. 

Still, there are critics, and a continued fight is basically guaranteed on the long haul path forward…

Now that’s a mixed bag—

Ukraine & Moldova proceeding to accession talks: historic

The Commission falling for a dirty blackmail: pathetic

Orban *leaving* the room: deplorable

Let’s focus on the first one— a new chapter for the EU. https://t.co/Sj9yBWxolQ

— Katalin Cseh (@katka_cseh) December 14, 2023

Here’s how Orban’s office explained the move in a lengthy social media statement in Hungarian and English

In the last few hours in Brussels, the European Council has deliberated on Ukraine’s accession. Hungary’s stance remains firm and unaltered: we do not consider Ukraine ready for EU negotiations. Consequently we oppose commencing negotiations.

However, 26 EU Member States hold a contrary view. Following extensive negotiations, Hungary opted to exit the meeting room and abstain from the vote—not to obstruct the outcome but to avoid cooperating in what we perceive as a misguided decision.

The European Council’s agreement represents a decision in principle. Subsequently, Member States must also unanimously agree on the specific negotiating framework. Additionally, a minimum of 70 unanimous decisions will be required throughout the upcoming years to endorse Ukraine’s accession to the EU.

Pro-EU members are hailing Orban’s having ‘backed down’ or essentially caved from his months-long hardline stance of resistance, with MEP Philippe Lamberts, co-president of the Greens group in the European parliament, stating as follows: “EU leaders have avoided the worst possible outcome and managed to show support to Ukraine by opening accession talks.”

He then emphasized: “Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán has backed down from his threats of a veto over Ukraine. However, if this is the result of a €10bn bribe then this is an unacceptable way for the EU to do business.”

Perhaps Orban knows his objection in the long-run may not even matter, considering Ukraine’s ongoing corruption – no doubt exacerbated by a wartime situation and economy – ultimately means than immense hurdles remain, possibly requiring up to decades of reform

ATTENTION DOGS: DO NOT TRAVEL OR SPEND MONEY ON YOUR ROADS. SPEND YOUR MONEY FOR UKRAINE’S WAR (not hyperbole) pic.twitter.com/N3USr8tfOG

— The_Real_Fly (@The_Real_Fly) December 13, 2023

The coming months will be interesting as Hungary attempts to ‘prove’ to its people and conservative leaders and right wing supporters abroad that it’s still in for the fight.

Tyler Durden
Fri, 12/15/2023 – 02:45

 

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