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Reform MP: Hungary sees opportunity to blackmail EU over Ukraine aid

Reform MP and Riigikogu Foreign Affairs Committee member Marko Mihkelson.
Reform MP and Riigikogu Foreign Affairs Committee member Marko Mihkelson. Source: ERR

Reform Party MP and Riigikogu Foreign Affairs Committee member Marko Mihkelson has said Hungary is looking to blackmail the European Union by obstructing aid from the bloc to Ukraine.

Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) meanwhile has pledged to raise the issue of aid to Ukraine at an EU foreign ministers' meeting Monday.

Reinsalu said: "It is indeed the case, though certainly not taken as a separate issue from Hungary's obstruction, that €3 billion in EU aid earmarked for Ukraine in May still has not been transferred as of now, which of course is a travesty, and I intend to raise this matter seriously with my colleagues at today's meeting."

Marko Mihkelson said Monday that: "The situation today sees the EU wanting to give Ukraine €18 billion in aid for the restoration of particularly critical infrastructure".

Hungary was looking for a quid pro quo on this, however, he added.

"Thirty to 40 percent of infrastructure in Ukraine has been destroyed, making this aid highly required. At the same time, Hungary is awaiting €13 billion in EU aid and sees an opportunity to now literally commit blackmail," he went on.

This requires diplomatic action, he added.

"The only thing that can be done in this situation, in my opinion, is to put diplomatic pressure on Hungary. I don't really believe that Budapest would want to stand completely alone in a situation where a harsh winter is coming and their blockade would halt much-needed EU aid to Ukraine, but this will certainly requires a whole lot of effort from several EU capitals," the MP went on.

Mihkelson also questioned the principle of EU unanimity in foreign policy issues, given the need for security and rapid decisions, though, he added, the discussion on unanimity has itself reached a stalemate in the EU, he said.

The EU's General Affairs Council is to take place later this week.

The issue of Budapest's obstruction of aid to Ukraine will be on the table at this meeting, though the foreign ministers' Brussels meeting is due to take place today, Monday, as noted.

Reinsalu reiterated that EU support for Ukraine should not be hindered, adding that an inter-member state solution can be found, based on past experience, even if this takes place at the eleventh hour.

Hungary borders Ukraine and a Hungarian-speaking minority is to be found on the other side of the border, in Transcarpathia, in the westernmost part of Ukraine. Budapest stated in January of this year that infringements of this minority's rights would mean any aid it provided in the event of any war in Ukraine would be necessarily limited in scope.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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