Council of Europe: How to trick Orban?

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Reuters

The main intriguer of the Council of Europe summit, which took place on December 14–15 in Brussels, has been determined. It was rightfully the cunning and resourceful German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who came up with a procedural trick, thanks to which the EU countries were able to make a decision to start negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to their union.

«Consensus and compromise do not descend from heaven like the Holy Spirit, they have to be agreed upon», the chancellor smugly emphasized.

And added: «I would not call it a trick. This is a decision that we unanimously made in accordance with our rules. But this is not something that should be done every time».

But how did it happen anyway? Imagine this: 26 respectable men and women are sitting in the conference room, waiting for Prime Minister Viktor Orban to go «backstage» for his natural needs. Scholz waves his conductor’s wand. Immediately, the issue of starting negotiations on the accession of Ukraine and Moldova to the EU is submitted for discussion, and a positive vote is taken. Some kind of kindergarten…

Orban later explained that he had listened to the advice of the head of the Berlin cabinet and abstained in such a strange way because he did not want to participate in a «bad decision». At the same time, the vote was recognized as valid, since refusal to express a position in the meeting room, even so exotic, is not considered as a «no» vote. By the way, after the «consensus» decision was made, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer disapproved of the idea. But the train has already left.

That is to say, it should be recognized that this was a coordinated and crudely staged action. Everyone knew their roles perfectly well.

The «unbearable child», as Orbán is called by the European top brass, received his “candy” for his participation in the comedy. The European Commission said that Budapest had complied with the EU Charter of Fundamental Standarts on judicial independence and on December 13 unfroze €10.2 billion of EU cohesion funds that had been frozen since 2022. Admittedly, this is a large sum for non-wealthy Hungary.

Although a decision has been taken, a specific date for the start of negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova and their duration has not been set. This will happen only after these countries fulfill the requirements formulated by the European Commission in early November. And there is a long list of them.

At the same time, under the enlargement section, the Council of Europe approved granting Georgia the status of a candidate for EU accession. But North Macedonia, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina, with whom the start of negotiations was discussed, are still out of the picture. They still have to work to «grow up».

As is known, the second principal topic at the Brussels meeting was the allocation of €50 billion in macrofinancial assistance to Ukraine over the next four years (€33 billion in loans and €17 billion in grants).

On this point, Orban did not lift his veto.

«We will return to this issue next year in the Council of Europe after appropriate preparations», he wrote on X social network. The next meeting of this body is scheduled for March next year.

I will note (as if by the way) that Hungary has another €12 billion in limbo, which Brussels is blocking because of the conflict over Budapest’s policy on migrants flooding Europe and the rights of sexual minorities. Why shouldn’t Orban try to get his hands on that money as well?

«The decision to allocate the necessary financial resources to Ukraine will be made. The 26 EU countries have already agreed, and the 27th has nothing to counter this understanding», explained «king of intrigue» Scholz. He apparently hopes to come up with something again.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who also had a hand in making the Hungarian more accommodating (he held urgent talks with him in Paris before the summit), said that Orban «will fulfill his obligations, behave like a European and will not use political progress as a means of pressure».

Further, after the discussion of acute issues on the agenda, everything went on as usual at the summit in Brussels. Apparently, the gentlemen were tired.

The 12th package of anti-Russian sanctions was adopted without much controversy. The participants noted the need to support grain imports from Ukraine, both through the Black Sea and through the «solidarity corridors», which were created as an alternative to the sea route for exporting agricultural products after Russia’s withdrawal from the «grain deal». The EU also pledged to assist Georgia and Moldova in «addressing the challenges they face due to the consequences of the war launched by the Russian Federation against Ukraine».

What about Zelensky? He said that for him «it is more important to start negotiations on joining the association than to receive a positive decision on additional financial assistance». He is lying. European money is his last hope. Especially after the emerging difficulties with the flow of funds from the ocean.