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EU could ‘end’ Hungary’s presidency – Politico

Viktor Orban’s visit to Russia has reportedly ruffled too many feathers in Brussels

FILE PHOTO: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. ©  Thierry Monasse / Getty Images

The European Union could revoke Hungary’s presidency of the bloc over Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s trip to Moscow, Politico EU has reported, citing diplomatic sources.

Having assumed the rotating European Council presidency and vowed to make Europe great again (MEGA)” Orban visited Ukraine and met with Vladimir Zelensky. He then went to Russia, triggering howls of outrage in Kiev and Brussels alike.

“Member states were already irritated by the ‘MEGA’ motto. But a meeting with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin will permanently overshadow the Hungarian presidency,” Politico reported on Monday evening, citing an unnamed EU diplomat. “With such a meeting the presidency ends before it has really begun.”

Politico described Orban as having gone “rogue” and suggested the EU ambassadors “could move from public condemnations alone to concrete action to restrain” Budapest at their meeting on Wednesday.

There is “a very clear political disapproval” of Orban in Brussels, another anonymous diplomat said, adding that the ambassadors are “now discussing what exactly to do on Wednesday.”

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The bloc “can get rid of the Hungarian presidency within weeks,” argued Daniel Hegedus, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund think-tank. He laid out a series of steps by which Brussels could move the start of Poland’s presidency to September 1, cutting Hungary’s term short, so as to “attach negative consequences to Orban’s behavior.” 

This would require a four-fifths majority in the European Council.

Orban has dismissed criticism that he does not have a mandate to represent the EU by saying that his peace missions are not classical negotiations and therefore do not require one. Bigger powers might be able to end the conflict, but Hungary can be “a good tool in the hands of God” to promote peace, the Hungarian leader said last Friday on national radio.

Hungary has long been one of the few EU members critical of the bloc’s unqualified support for Ukraine, urging Brussels instead to push for peace. Budapest has blocked plans to finance Kiev’s weapons purchases, declined to participate in the program of training Ukrainian troops, and refused passage of weapons and equipment to Ukraine via its territory.

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