Hungary Blocks €50bn Of EU Funding For Ukraine

Hungary has blocked €50bn ($55bn; £43bn) in EU aid for Ukraine – just hours after an agreement was reached on starting membership talks.

“Summary of the nightshift: veto for the extra money to Ukraine,” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said after Thursday’s talks in Brussels.

EU leaders said the aid negotiations would resume early next year.

Ukraine is critically dependent on EU and US funding as it continues to fight occupying Russian forces.

The aid blocking was announced by Mr Orban shortly after the EU leaders decided to open membership talks with Ukraine and Moldova and to grant candidate status to Georgia.

Hungary – which maintains close ties with Russia – has long opposed membership for Ukraine but did not veto that move.

Mr Orban left the negotiating room momentarily in what officials described as a pre-agreed and constructive manner, while the other 26 leaders went ahead with the vote.

He told Hungarian state radio on Friday that he had fought for eight hours to stop his EU partners but could not convince them. Ukraine’s path to EU membership would be a long process anyway, he added, adding that parliament in Budapest could still stop it happening if it wanted to.

Commenting on Mr Orban’s opposition to the aid, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said: “We still have some time, Ukraine is not out of money in the next few weeks.”

“We agreed with the 26 countries,” he added. “Viktor Orban, Hungary, were not yet able to do that. I am fairly confident we can get a deal early next year. We are thinking of late January.”

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