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Hungary Vetoes EU Aid for Ukraine Amid Commencement of Membership Talks

Hungary has vetoed a crucial European aid package for Ukraine, mere hours after EU leaders agreed to initiate membership talks with Kyiv. Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, confirmed the veto on social media, expressing intentions to revisit the issue in the European Council next year after adequate preparation. The aid package, valued at 50 billion euros ($55 billion), faced unanimous approval from 26 EU members, with Hungary being the sole dissenting nation.

The European Council’s decision to commence accession talks with Ukraine, after nearly two years of being accepted as a candidate state, was hailed as a significant milestone. However, Orban, a close ally of the Kremlin, distanced Hungary from the discussions and criticized the move, calling it “senseless” and “incorrect.” Orban claimed Ukraine had not met essential conditions for accession talks, asserting that Hungary did not want to be part of what he deemed a “bad decision.”

President of the EU Council, Charles Michel, welcomed the positive signal sent to Ukraine and confirmed the initiation of accession negotiations with Moldova, along with granting candidate status to Georgia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky celebrated the news, declaring it a victory for Ukraine and a motivation for all of Europe.

While the decision to open formal membership talks is seen as a strong message to Russian President Vladimir Putin, experts caution that significant obstacles remain before Ukraine’s potential EU membership. The Copenhagen Criteria, focusing on a functioning free-market economy, upholding European values, and maintaining an inclusive democracy, must be satisfied. Despite the political significance, Ukraine may face up to a decade of negotiations and ratifications before joining the EU.