Hungary needs to change the EU, not leave it – PM Orban

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BUDAPEST – Hungary must say no to the current Europe model built in Brussels, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told a congress of his Fidesz party on Saturday, adding that the European Union needs to be changed rather than ditched.

Orban again reiterated his government’s opposition to starting talks with Ukraine about its accession to the EU.

“Correcting the mistaken promise (by Brussels) to start talks (with Ukraine about EU membership) will also be our task, as Ukraine is light years away from the EU now,” Orban said, adding that he would fight off attempts by the EU to settle migrants in Hungary.

Orban, who has been locked in a dispute with Brussels over EU funds frozen because of his government’s democratic backsliding, this week said the EU’s strategy of sending money and military aid to Ukraine had failed, and that he opposed starting membership negotiations with Kyiv.

Ukraine, which applied to join the EU days after Russia’s invasion in February 2022, sees membership as a top priority. The question of starting accession talks with the country will be on the agenda at an EU summit next month.

A decision to invite Ukraine to start membership talks at the summit is “at risk”, a senior official with the bloc said on Friday, quoting Hungarian resistance potentially obstructing the unanimity of 27 EU countries as one reason.

With Hungary clambering out of an inflation crisis, nationalist Orban has this week started campaigning heavily for European parliamentary elections due next June.

His government sent out a survey on Friday to its citizens questioning whether the EU should allocate more funds to Ukraine or grant it membership.

“We will resist the crazy ideas of Brussels bureaucrats, the migrants’ invasion, the gender propaganda, and we will resist the illusions over the war (in Ukraine) and Ukraine’s unprepared EU membership,” Orban told his party, which has been in government since 2010. REUTERS

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