February 22, 2024

Brighton Journal

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Ukraine’s Zelensky says he had a “frank” conversation with Hungary’s President Orban

Ukraine’s Zelensky says he had a “frank” conversation with Hungary’s President Orban

BUENOS AIRES/BUDDAPEST (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he had a “frank” conversation with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on the sidelines of Argentine President Javier Miley’s inauguration on Sunday.

“It was as frank as possible – and obviously it was about our European affairs,” Zelensky said in his evening video address, which he posted on his Telegram channel early Monday.

The meeting was held against the backdrop of Orban’s threat to prevent further financial support from the European Union for Kiev, his opposition to Ukraine’s entry into the bloc, and the White House’s intensification of its efforts to obtain aid for Kiev after Republicans blocked an emergency spending bill to finance the war.

Bertalan Havasi, Orban’s press director, confirmed the meeting in an email that did not address whether the Hungarian leader would continue to oppose Ukraine’s entry into the European Union.

“Regarding Ukraine’s accession to the European Union, Viktor Orban noted that EU member states are constantly discussing this issue,” Havasi said in an email.

A video clip on the YouTube channel of the Argentine Senate showed Zelensky and Orbán speaking for about 20 seconds as they mingled with other guests in the Argentine Parliament, ahead of the European Union summit on December 14-15, which is scheduled to decide whether to begin membership talks with Ukraine. no. .

Orban has repeatedly said he opposes starting talks now. Any decision to move forward must be unanimous.

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Orban also threatened to block moves to give Kiev 50 billion euros ($53.80 billion) in budget support until 2027, although a senior official said on Friday that the European Union would find ways to support Ukraine financially even if Hungary vetoed the move.

Zelensky said earlier that he spoke by phone with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to coordinate their positions.

He said in a post on the Telegram application: “We are counting on a positive decision regarding the allocation of 50 billion euros and the start of negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the European Union.”

He added, “Europe must decisively defend its values ​​and its unity. I know that we can count on the support of Madam President on this matter.”

Zelensky is scheduled to arrive in Washington on Monday for talks with US President Joe Biden and US House Speaker Mike Johnson about Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine and the “vital importance” of continued US aid to Kiev.

($1 = 0.9294 euros)

(Reporting by Adam Jordan in Buenos Aires, Kristina Thanh in Budapest, Oleksandr Kozhar and Yulia Disa in Kiev, and Ellen Monaghan in Washington;

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