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Estonian Foreign Ministry secgen: EU close to agreeing €50 billion for Ukraine

Jonatan Vseviov.
Jonatan Vseviov. Source: Kirke Ert

Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jonatan Vseviov told Vikerraadio Friday that while €50 billion in Ukraine aid having become stuck in the EU is bad news, he is convinced the agreement will be made in the coming weeks.

"Withholding the €50 billion is bad news, but I'm optimistic that an agreement will be reached in the coming weeks," said Vseviov. "This issue is simpler than initiating accession negotiations. I am confident that consensus will be reached."

President of the European Council Charles Michel announced on Thursday that the European Union will start accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who opposed the decision, left the room at the moment of the decision, allowing the remaining 26 Member States' leaders to make a consensual choice.

"It was clear for a long time that 26 EU countries share the same fundamental position. One did not, and work was done to find a solution, which resulted in a consensual decision," said Vseviov, adding that the specific form of the solution is less important.

"The consensus was reached, and the way it happened is not overly important," Vseviov noted.

"What to do with those who are always separate from the rest of the group is a question that both the remaining 26 and that one are thinking about," Vseviov admitted.

Host Märt Treier asked if the European Union should abandon the principle of unanimity.

Simple solutions can ultimately be dangerous, futile, and counterproductive, Vseviov replied. "There is one country that does not agree. How would it help if Estonia gave up its vote? Honestly, it wouldn't help."

Vseviov also noted that the European Council's Thursday decision to start EU accession negotiations with Ukraine shows that time is not working in favor of Vladimir Putin, the leader of Russia waging war against Ukraine.

How the decision was made on either side of the Council door

ERR's Brussels correspondent Joosep Värk described the events leading up to the decision in "Aktuaalne kaamera."

"The heads of state went to the Council table, discussed at length, were actually ready to negotiate until Sunday, and many journalists assumed it would take days. They negotiated, and at one point Viktor Orban said, 'Let's vote, and I will leave the room.' He left, and the unanimous decision was thus made," said Värk.

"This somewhat shows that while Viktor Orban may not be liked by many, it is actually possible to make such deals with him. And at least [Estonian Prime Minister] Kaja Kallas confirmed that there were no catches or hidden decisions with it," the journalist added.

Orban later said it was a bad decision, and therefore Hungary stayed away from making it.

"But the 26 Member States were sure that this decision had to be made, so Hungary decided that if 26 countries decide so, they should go their own way. Hungary did not want to participate in this bad decision and therefore stayed away," said Orban.

The European Council continued with the long-term budget discussion, including the €50 billion for Ukraine. Things didn't go as smoothly there, as Orban blocked the €50 billion EU aid to Ukraine on Friday, citing that the union leaders did not consider his opposition to starting accession talks with Kyiv.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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