Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said Ukraine is «light years away» from joining the EU.

Hungarian PM Viktor Orban delivers a speech after he was re-elected as party president of the ruling Hungarian Fidesz party in Budapest, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023.© Szilard Koszticsak/MTI — Media Service Support and Asset Management Fund

The comments came as he was reelected as the president of the right-wing nationalist Fidesz party for the 11th consecutive time in Budapest on Saturday.

“Our task will be to correct the mistaken promise to start negotiations with Ukraine since Ukraine is now light years away from the European Union,” Orban said.  

Hungary’s Prime Minister argued that the EU’s promise to start admission talks with Kyiv was a «mistake,» adding he and his government would “resist” EU talks scheduled for mid-December on whether to formally extend an invitation to Kyiv to join.

Unanimity among all member states is required to admit a new country into the EU, giving Orban a powerful veto.

The EU’s executive earlier this month recommended the beginning of accession talks with Ukraine, saying that its government “has shown a remarkable level of institutional strength, determination and ability to function.”

But Orban, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s only EU allies, has argued that negotiations should not begin with a country that is at war, and that Ukraine’s accession would reorient the EU’s system of distributing funds to member countries.

Some critics have speculated that Hungary, which has also threatened to block an EU plan to provide a four-year, €50 billion aid package for Ukraine, is using its resistance to leverage concessions from the EU.

Billions in funding have been withheld from Budapest over concerns that the government has failed to uphold rule-of-law and human rights standards.

War in Ukraine — fighting at the front

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