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ERR in Strasbourg: Leaving Hungary out of support for Ukraine looking more likely

European Parliament chamber in Strasbourg.
European Parliament chamber in Strasbourg. Source: ERR

While many MEPs including those from Estonia see stripping Hungarian leader Viktor Orban's Council of the European Union voting rights as unrealistic, the prospects of him simply being cut loose on the issue of support to Ukraine and of the remaining 26 European Union member states forging ahead without Hungary is becoming increasingly realistic, ERR reports from Strasbourg.

More broadly, the debate at EU level on issues regarding perceptions of the place of the rule of law inside Hungary is often fueled each time Orban blocks a key decision.

The current case is his veto on a planned €50-billion aid package to Ukraine.

The European Parliament debated the issue anew on Wednesday in Strasbourg, where ERR's Joosep Värk filed a reportage.

Speaking to the press pack, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: "One of my personal priorities is to find an agreement among the 27 member states. If this is not possible, however, we are ready to conclude an agreement with 26 countries. But I would strongly support and prefer an agreement with 27 countries."

Speaking at the parliament, German MEP Terry Reintke (Greens/European Free Alliance) addressed the crux of the issue in considerably stronger terms, saying that: "We have Putin's best servant sitting at the table in the European Council blocking our support and our credibility at this crucial stage; this is a joke, and this is a very bad joke."

As reported by ERR News, a petition initiated by Finnish MEP Petri Sarvamaa called for the European Council to invoke Article 7 of the EU Treaty, which would precede the suspension of voting rights for Hungary at that level.

On this, one of Estonia's seven MEPs, Jaak Madison (EKRE/ID), said: "Practically, this is not very feasible, but politically, yes it is – you can think of arguments from here and there."

"Naturally I don't think that's right, however. The EU is an association of 27 Member States, a confederation and not a federation, and obviously we are made up of different countries. Whether we like some of Hungary's policies or not is secondary to that. This is a matter of emotion," Madison went on.

Andrus Ansip (Reform/Renew Europe) did sign the Sarvamaa letter along with over 100 of the parliament's 705 MEPs, though he does not believe in stripping Orban of his European Council vote.

Instead, the Hungarian leader, the center of much media attention again, should, in Ansip's view, simply be left out of the aid package program to Ukraine.

Ansip said "This process would definitely then be less enervating and less time-consuming. We should go ahead with 26 countries, and leave Orban out. If he still doesn't want to go along with the others [in the EU], and wants to go hand in hand with Putin, then leave him to it."

The European Commission plan as outlined above and backed by Ansip is to be taken to the European Council on February 1.

Hungary is due to take on the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU later on this year.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera,' reporter Joosep Värk.

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