European Leaders Scramble to Ease Tensions with Hungarian PM Orbán Over Ukraine EU Accession Talks

With a very consequential European Union summit only one week away, various leaders are in a state of panic. The summit is expected to discuss opening EU accession talks with Ukraine. But the reason for the discomfort among the leaders is conservative champion Viktor Orbán. The Hungarian prime minister has taken a strong position on Ukraine, leaving EU diplomats and officials struggling to see what in this world, or who, can change his mind.

Even French President Emmanuel Macron, self-appointed ‘master negotiator,’ is reportedly expecting to fail in another diplomatic challenge. Politico reported that Macron will host Orbán for dinner to try to forge a compromise ahead of next week’s summit in Brussels, where EU leaders are set to make a historic decision on Ukraine’s accession and seal a key budget deal.

This issue has caused tension within the EU, with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock sharply criticizing Orbán, while Macron is taking a more conciliatory approach. Orbán has made it clear that he opposes accession negotiations with Kyiv and instead wants to have a strategic debate about the bloc’s support for Ukraine.

The stakes are high, and European leaders seem deaf to Hungary’s objections and claims, failing to see beyond the issue of EU cash. Some EU diplomats and officials are reportedly already planning workarounds in case the summit fails, while others are working to counter the negative press that would follow a failed European Council next week.

The pressure is mounting, and European leaders are hopeful that Macron can strike a compromise with Orbán ahead of next week’s summit. However, many are not optimistic about Macron’s chances, given his past failures in negotiating with other world leaders.

As the EU struggles to reach a consensus on Ukraine discussions, the bloc’s global image is at risk. Diplomats are considering sending the €50 billion lifeline to Ukraine without a universal agreement, bypassing Hungary’s veto. The lack of consensus on Ukraine discussions will hurt the EU’s global image. The outcome of the summit is ‘uncertain,’ said Willem Van de Voorde, Belgium’s ambassador to the EU, at a POLITICO event on Tuesday evening.

The lack of consensus on Ukraine discussions will hurt the EU’s global image. Diplomats consider sending the €50 billion lifeline to Ukraine without a universal agreement, bypassing Hungary’s veto.

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