Ukraine passes legislation to start EU talks | outside

Hungary in particular has clashed with Kiev over the rights of the ethnic Hungarian community in western Ukraine. Previous legislation would restrict the use of the Hungarian language in Ukraine. About 150,000 people of Hungarian origin live in Ukraine. Other laws address combating corruption. These are two important conditions for joining the European Union.

Next week, the 27 EU member states will decide whether the EU will start the first negotiations with Ukraine on EU membership. Consensus is required in these negotiations that prepare the potential member for the union. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has often said that he has little interest in these talks. Kiev hopes Budapest will become more compliant with the newly adopted laws.

Orban, the most pro-Russian of all EU leaders, again described Ukraine as “one of the most corrupt countries in the world” on Friday. He has been warning loudly for days that he does not agree to start accession negotiations with Ukraine. It would be better to remove this plan from the agenda of the EU summit, the Hungarian Prime Minister told the Head of Government of the European Union, Charles Michel.

But Michel has no plans to do so at the moment. There is no alternative plan, say senior EU diplomats. They would not consider, for example, separating the resolution on Ukraine from the decisions on other candidate member states.

At the summit, which will be held on Thursday and Friday, outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his fellow government leaders must decide not only on accession negotiations, but also, for example, on providing more financial aid to Ukraine and new sanctions against Russia.

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Denton Watson

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