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Hungary’s EU presidency to prioritize Western Balkans over Ukraine

Hungary’s upcoming presidency of the EU Council is set to prioritize the Western Balkans over Ukraine’s membership bid, according to a recent report.
hungarian, european, ukrainian flags
The flags of Hungary, European Union and Ukraine. Credit:
Hungary’s EU presidency to prioritize Western Balkans over Ukraine

According to Deutsche Welle (DW), Hungary has announced that there will be no second intergovernmental conference with Ukraine and Moldova in 2024. Balint Odor, Hungary’s Permanent Representative to the EU, said this during a briefing in Brussels on 18 June.

Starting 1 July, Hungary will chair the EU Council in a six-month rotation.

The first intergovernmental conferences (IGCs) with Ukraine and Moldova, marking the official start of accession negotiations, are scheduled for 25 June.

According to Hungary’s Permanent Representative to the EU, the negotiating frameworks will be adopted, and then the screening process for the two countries will continue. “However, no other significant steps are expected in this direction,” he said,

While the report notes Odor stating that “EU enlargement should be based on the merits of the candidates,” Hungary’s priority during its presidency appears to be the Western Balkans region.

Odor emphasized Budapest’s aim to “balance” the EU’s enlargement processes by accelerating actions towards the Western Balkans against the backdrop of the expedited candidate status granted to Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia.

DW reported that the phrase “support for Ukraine” was absent from the listed priorities, although areas such as EU competitiveness, economic relations with third countries, easing administrative burdens, defense policy, and arms procurement cooperation were mentioned.

Budapest has chosen the slogan “Let’s make Europe great again” for its EU Council presidency, which has been compared to former US President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

The report also reported that 2016 during the US election campaign, Hungarian Prime Minister Orban was the only EU leader to voice support for Trump, later calling him the “president of peace” in March this year.

The head of the Parliament Committee on Ukraine’s Integration into the EU, Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, said earlier in June that Hungary is the only country that is currently opposing the start of negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the European Union.

“Hungary has already made it clear that Ukraine’s European integration is not its priority. It has already announced its presidential priorities, and we are not among them.

Therefore, it is important not to lose momentum and time, which is critical for the country’s transformation,” Klympush-Tsintsadze said.

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