New Polish PM calls ‘apathy on Ukraine unacceptable’ as EU braces for bitter tussle with Orban

By Isaac M December 14, 2023

Poland’s new prime minister Donald Tusk has condemned “apathy on Ukraine” and said he will rally support for the war-hit nation ahead of the high-stakes summit of European Union (EU) leaders starting Wednesday.

“Apathy on Ukraine is unacceptable,” Mr Tusk said, adding that he will try to convince “some member states”, a day after his appointment to the top position.

Mr Tusk has announced he will “loudly and decisively demand the full mobilisation of the free world, the Western world, to help Ukraine in this war”, as he slammed fatigue on supporting Ukraine. Pro-Kremlin Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has vowed to stall Kyiv’s membership to the bloc.

EU members are set to face the rigid Hungarian leader who will veto Ukraine’s bid to join the bloc at the summit in Brussels.

Mr Orban is also likely to halt the €50bn (£43bn) in financial aid for Kyiv, which can prove to be a massive setback for Volodymyr Zelensky who is asking his allies to help his nation against Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Earlier this week, Mr Zelensky also rallied with the administration of Joe Biden who was unable to get a $60bn aid package cleared through Congress amid bitter opposition from the Republican camp.

Any clearance of membership talks from the EU for Ukraine and the financial package covering Kyiv for the next four years will grant the war-torn nation a geopolitical victory. However, any failure will boost Moscow’s morale on watching faltering support from the West.

Mr Orban is the only leader out of the total 27 EU nations who is impeding the accession talks. The EU would need unanimous support from all its leaders to initiate membership talks which the pro-Kremlin EU leader Orban claims is not a right step for Ukraine.

Officials in the EU and diplomats suspect the Hungarian leader is using the issue of claiming corruption in Ukraine as a bargaining chip, hoping to obtain funds frozen by the EU over concerns about the rule of law in Hungary.

“We’re not in a Hungarian bazaar where we can exchange one thing for another,” Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo said on Wednesday. “Ukraine is a country that wants to respect democratic values… Maybe a lesson for Orban himself.”

The European Commission, the EU executive body, restored Hungary’s access to up to €10.2bn in refunds for economic projects after finding it had fulfilled conditions on the independence of its judiciary.

However, officials also said they were braced for a tough summit that could go late into Friday night or even into the weekend.


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