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Ministers to prepare possible Zelensky-Orban meeting over EU aid spat

In Europe
January 12, 2024

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky could be poised to soon meet with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán as Hungary continues to block EU aid earmarked for Kiev.

To pave the way for a potential meeting between the two leaders, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto are set to meet in the western Ukrainian city of Uzhhorod on January 29, both sides said on Thursday.

The head of the Ukrainian presidential office, Andrii Yermak, is also expected to attend, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleh Nikolenko said.

Ukraine has been fighting off a Russian invasion since February 2022 and a new EU aid programme worth €50 billion ($55 billion) for the next four years was supposed to have been agreed last December.

But Orbán, who maintains good relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, vetoed the plan, calling into question the usefulness of the funds and stating that the EU had wrongly frozen funds earmarked for his country.

If no solution is found with Hungary in the coming weeks, the other EU member states intend to act as a group of 26.

A special EU summit on how to proceed has been announced for February 1.

Brussels hopes Hungary will drop its resistance to avoid further complications.

Szijjarto, meanwhile, stressed a meeting between Orbán and Zelensky ahead of the summit would only make sense if it promised “signficant results,” adding that it would have to be “prepared accordingly.”

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