June 21. 2024. 5:22

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EU countries vent anger at Hungary’s blockages of Ukraine aid decisions

EU foreign ministers meeting on Monday (27 May) vented their anger with Hungary’s “pattern of behaviour” which increasingly often blocks EU foreign policy decisions and prevents progress on crucial military aid for Ukraine.

The foreign ministers gathered in Brussels focused on how the bloc could unlock funds from the EU’s off-budget European Peace Facility (EPF).

Hungary has been blocking partial reimbursements for weapons earmarked for Ukraine under the EU’s off-budget European Peace Facility (EPF) for almost a year, with the amount estimated at €9 billion.

“There is growing frustration (to say the least), as the EU currently sits on €5 billion of support and very soon on the [Russian] windfall profits stemming from immobilised assets, which are at risk of not being used properly if there is no agreement,” one EU diplomat said.

An increasing number of EU member states are starting to point to Hungary’s overall track record, rather than the fact that Budapest has ‘not yet completely vetoed’ any EU decision on Ukraine.

“We looked into this and about 41% of resolutions by the EU on Ukraine have been blocked by Hungary,” Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrelius Landsbergis told reporters.

“The EPF is blocked; Ukraine’s accession talks are being held hostage by Hungary – and I could go on and on – the [EU’s] declaration on Georgia, the EPF [support] to Armenia – basically, almost all of our discussions and needed solutions and decisions (…) are being blocked by just one country,” Landsbergis said.

“We have to start seeing this as a systematic approach towards any efforts by the EU to have any meaningful role in foreign affairs – and we have to start talking about this,” he added.

Echoing the criticism, Belgium’s Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib, whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency, told reporters ahead of the talks: “We cannot accept that a single country, which also signed up to this amount a few months ago at the heads of state’s Council meeting, is now blocking this crucial aid for Ukraine.”

Estonia’s Foreign Margus Tsahkna said: “Every time we are coming here, we have to convince Hungary about not blocking very important initiatives.”

“This is crucial now for Ukraine, and also for Europe, to use these EPF funds,” Tsahkna added.

Italy’s Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani told reporters Rome would be “against the blocking. We want to move on.”

Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto did not answer questions from reporters heading into Monday’s talks.

EU diplomats said they expect the discussion on EU military aid to Ukraine to shift towards Tuesday’s defence ministers meeting.

Should there be no breakthrough, EU ambassadors “will come together when needed to unlock this very unfortunate situation,” a second EU diplomat said.

Hungary takes over the rotating EU Council presidency on 1 July.

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