Hungary’s Orban says he could still block Ukraine’s EU membership talks

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives for a meeting of European Union EU leaders in Brussels, Belgium, Dec. 14, 2023.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he could still block Ukraine’s European Union membership talks, hours after the bloc voted to open discussions.

Orban, who abstained from the vote Thursday by leaving the room, said the move to admit the war-torn country to the EU was “a bad decision.”

“We can halt this process later on, and if needed we will pull the brakes, and the ultimate decision will be made by Hungarian parliament,” he said, without adding detail on how he might do that.

Orban — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest ally in the bloc — has proved a thorn in the EU’s side in its efforts to get the membership talks over the line.

The nationalist leader also blocked plans to extend a new financial package to Ukraine, with discussions set to resume in January.

— Karen Gilchrist

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