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Orbán: Ukraine Not Ready for EU Membership Talks

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said Friday that Ukraine is not ready for membership talks with the EU, despite the European Commission green-lighting negotiations earlier this week.

While Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hailed the Commission’s decision, Orbán — a frequent needler of Kyiv — told Hungarian state radio that, “Ukraine is in no way prepared to negotiate.”

“Ukraine is as far from EU membership as Makó is from Jerusalem,” Orbán said, referring to a small town near the Romanian border, Hungarian media reported.

Orbán also stressed that Ukraine’s membership talks cannot be linked to Hungary’s frozen EU funds.

“I would like to make it very clear that the opening of negotiations in Ukraine is not a matter of business,” the Hungarian leader said, adding that Brussels must give Hungary “what they owe.”

While Budapest has agreed to EU sanctions against Russia over its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Hungary has clashed with Ukraine multiple times, objecting to the EU’s attempt to set up a long-term fund of up to €20 billion for Ukraine’s military and criticizing Kyiv’s treatment of Hungarian minorities.

Orbán also shook hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month, which triggered an outcry.

The Commission’s recommendation this week puts Ukraine one step closer to EU membership, but Kyiv, which is still fighting off Putin’s attack, still has hurdles to overcome including on fighting domestic corruption.

The next step is for EU leaders to back the Commission’s plan at a summit in Brussels in December.