Ukraine Just Moved a Step Closer to Joining the EU

Hungary's Viktor Orban slammed 'bad decision' but did not block it
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 14, 2023 12:45 PM CST
EU Agrees to Membership Talks With Ukraine, Moldova
Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks with the media as he arrives for an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023.   (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

The European Union decided Thursday to open accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova. European Council President Charles Michel called it "a clear signal of hope for their people and our continent." The decision was announced at a summit gathering of leaders of the 27 EU countries. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the decision as "a victory for Ukraine. A victory for all of Europe," the AP reports. A spokesperson for Michel said the agreement was unanimous, reports the BBC, though Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he hadn't changed his position against Ukraine joining membership talks. He did not, however, veto the move.

Orban had gone into the summit vowing to block the plans by his 26 fellow leaders to officially declare that membership negotiations with Ukraine can start, and to deny Kyiv $54 billion in financial aid that the country desperately needs to stay afloat. Orban is seen by many as Vladimir Putin's foot in the summit door and the Russian leader's wrecking ball to demolish EU support for Zelensky, the AP reports. "EU membership of Ukraine is a bad decision. Hungary does not want to participate in this bad decision!" he said Thursday. Diplomats tell the Guardian that Orban left the room while the decision was made.

Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia applied to join the EU after Russia invaded Ukraine last year, the BBC reports. Ukraine and Moldova were given candidate status in June last year—the first stage in the three-stage process of joining the bloc—and have now moved to the second stage. Georgia was given candidate status Thursday. (Putin on Thursday said Russia has no plans to end its war in Ukraine.)

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