Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Lithuania slams Hungary over veto against EU military aid to Ukraine

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Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis. Reuters

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis lashed out at Hungary on Monday for blocking European Union decisions on foreign affairs, including military aid for Ukraine, and said the bloc had to find a way to circumvent Budapest’s veto.

Landsbergis’ strongly worded criticism appeared to reflect mounting frustration in the EU with Hungary. Estonia and Italy also expressed dissatisfaction with Budapest’s blocking tactics.

“I think we have to be transparent as to what Hungary’s position currently is,” Landsbergis told reporters as he arrived for a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

“Almost all of our discussions and needed solutions and decisions by (the) EU are being blocked by just one country. So we have to start seeing this as a systematic approach towards any efforts by (the) EU to have any meaningful role in foreign affairs.”

EU decisions on foreign policy require the unanimous backing of all 27 member states.

Hungary’s foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto, did not speak to reporters on his way into Monday’s meeting. Hungary does not give lethal aid to Ukraine and has argued that the EU policy of giving arms to Kyiv is misguided and will prolong the war.

Landsbergis said Hungary was blocking decisions on EU military aid to Ukraine, the start of EU membership talks for Kyiv, and on Georgia and Armenia. Diplomats say Hungary’s stance is often in line with Russia’s foreign policy interests.

“We looked into this and apparently about 41% of resolutions by (the) EU on Ukraine have been blocked by Hungary,” he said.

“It has it has gone very, very far,” Landsbergis added. “We have to find a way, really, as a community to work around this.”

Frustration

Frustration with Hungary is normally expressed behind closed doors or in off-the-record conversations rather than in public.

Echoing Landbergis’ criticism in softer tones, Estonian Foreign Margus Tsahkna said: “Every time we are coming here, we have to convince Hungary about not blocking very important initiatives.”

Diplomats say Budapest is blocking a variety of measures linked to the European Peace Facility (EPF), an EU-backed fund that has provided billions of euros in military aid to Ukraine.

“This is crucial now for Ukraine, and also for Europe, to use these EPF funds,” Tsahkna said.

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani told reporters: “We are against the blocking. We want to move on.”

A senior diplomat from another EU country, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “What’s happening is outrageous. At every turn … you see the Hungarians hampering Ukraine’s ability to fight an aggressor.”

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