World Hungary sets £25 billion price tag to back EU...

Hungary sets £25 billion price tag to back EU support package for Ukraine

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Brussels is under significant pressure to deliver much-needed support to Kyiv after Mr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, failed to convince Republican politicians in the US to end their own opposition to funding.

Hungary’s threat of a veto over both the €50 billion lifeline for Kyiv and the accession process to the EU risks dealing a double-blow at a time Ukrainian forces are under significant pressure on the front lines in the war against Russia.

Mr Orban has claimed Ukraine is “light years” away from being fit to join the bloc, despite a report by the Commission insisting the war-torn nation has made sufficient reforms to start talks.

“Considering the numbers, economic analyses and taking it seriously that talks [with Ukraine] would aim to grant membership … then we must say that this thought at the moment is absurd, ridiculous and not serious,” he told the Hungarian parliament on Wednesday.

Mr Orban was confronted over the issue by Mr Zelensky at the inauguration of Argentinian president Javier Milei earlier this week.

“I asked him to tell me one reason why. Not three, not five, not 10. Tell me one reason,” the Ukrainian president said of their public discussion. “I’m waiting for an answer.”

Mr Zelensky is expected to travel to Brussels for the summit if a last minute deal is reached for the bloc to support Ukraine.

Figures released last week by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, a German think tank tracking aid to Ukraine, said commitments had reached a new low between August and October.

Global promises of just €2.11 billion (£1.8 billion) of support were offered to Kyiv, a 90 per cent decrease compared to the same period last year.

Kyiv and Budapest have shared a tetchy relationship since Mr Zelensky personally called out Mr Orban, the prime minister, for his lack of support at a European summit in March last year.

‘Violate rights of Hungarian minorities’

The Ukrainians have criticised the Hungarian government’s close ties with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

“They shake the hands of Putin, and that annoys us,” a senior Ukrainian official said, echoing similar frustrations from Hungary’s EU and Nato allies.

Meanwhile Budapest argues Ukraine is one of the most corrupt countries in the world and has been abusing 120,000 Hungarian national minorities living there.

Political director Balazs Orban told the Telegraph: “I don’t understand why it is important for the Ukrainians to violate the rights of Hungarian minorities who do not pose any threat to them.”

Kyiv has been accused of restricting access to minority languages, including Hungarian, in favour of teaching Ukrainian.

Ukraine has dozens of minorities and protecting their rights was one of the seven reforms demanded by the European Commission before it could recommend membership talks.

The country has introduced legislation it hopes satisfies the concerns of the Hungarian government, as well as Romania and Bulgaria.

But Mr Orban’s supporters insist the issue runs beyond legislation and is about the “nasty things” done to the Hungarians living inside Ukraine’s borders.

Dymtro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, hit back: “We are not doing anything horrible to minorities because they are our citizens and they are all equal to us. All citizens in Ukraine are equal, irrespective of their race, nationality or ethnicity.

“The idea of persecution of Hungarian national minorities is a big fake that is being disseminated. The law that Ukraine has recently passed on education, on the use of language of national minorities in education and media fully accommodates the concerns of the Hungarian government.”

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