As Hungary vows to veto Ukrainian accession to the EU, Hungarians discontent with Orban grows

Balazs Orban
Balazs Orban

As the Hungarian government, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, threatens to veto the start of negotiations on Ukraine’s European Union accession, signs of discontent are emerging within Hungary, suggesting that Orban may not fully represent the interests of the Hungarian people.

The government’s objection to Ukraine’s EU integration centers on concerns about the “violation of the rights of the Hungarian minority,” said Balazs Orban, the political director of the Prime Minister’s office, during an interview with the Dutch publication NOS on Nov. 7.

The primary point of contention is Ukraine’s recent language law, which mandates that minority groups, including the Hungarian minority, must receive at least 70 percent of their education in the Ukrainian language.

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The “eurointegration” draft law No. 9610 on national minorities was passed by the Ukrainian Parliament on Sept. 21 and signed by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Nov. 3.

This legislation is a key requirement for the commencement of negotiations on Ukraine’s EU membership. While it was adopted in its entirety in December 2022, the Venice Commission recommended revisions, particularly regarding the use of minority languages.

Read also: Orban ‘proud’ of meeting with Putin

This policy, according to Balazs Orban, adversely affects the lives of Hungarians residing in Ukraine. He voiced apprehension that Hungarian-speaking children would “lag significantly behind in school.”

Hungary’s stance is adamant: so long as this law remains in place, there will be no discussions about Ukraine’s integration into the EU — regardless of whether the EU finds Ukraine’s “eurointegration” law sufficient or not.

However, an increasing number of Hungarians are expressing dissatisfaction with Orban and his foreign policy decisions.

A survey conducted by the Publicus Institute revealed that over half of all Hungarians disapprove of Orban’s recent meeting with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin in China. The survey shows that 52% of respondents considered the meeting “rather unacceptable,” while only 35% held the opposite view, with 13% undecided.

Orban met with Putin in China on Oct. 17, marking his first personal meeting and negotiations with the dictator since Moscow launched a full-scale war against Ukraine.

Notably, Orban was the sole European Union leader in attendance, which further fueled criticism from the Hungarian public.

Read also: Hungary’s PM Orban calls for ‘Plan B’ in Ukraine conflict

As the European Union prepares to present a report on Ukraine’s progress toward EU membership on Nov. 8, reports from Bloomberg, citing sources, suggest that the EU is likely to approve the start of negotiations for Ukraine’s accession to the bloc. However, the final wording remains pending approval, with the possibility of additional conditions.

For years, Hungary has been a vocal opponent of Ukraine’s cooperation with NATO, citing a “policy of violating the rights of national minorities.”

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine