Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said Thursday the European Commission is blackmailing Hungary by withholding billions in frozen funds over rule-of-law concerns.
Orbán said the blackmail is “a fact,” even admitted by the blackmailers themselves — members of the European Parliament.
“In our view, Hungary fulfils all the qualities of the rule of law, and when the European Commission has specific needs, we implement everything from them, and we are also cooperative,” Orbán told reporters in Budapest during a press conference. “You cannot blame me for doing everything I can to promote Hungary’s interests in such a blackmailed situation.”
Orbán’s government has been embroiled in a long-standing dispute with Brussels, which has frozen billions of EU funds intended for Hungary over concerns about human rights and the rule of law in the country.
Last week, the European Commission unblocked €10.2 billion in frozen EU cohesion funds earmarked for Hungary.
The commission said the timing of the funding release — which came just a day before the European Council, where Orbán was threatening to block the start of Ukraine’s accession talks to the EU and a further aid package to Kyiv — was coincidental. But many EU politicians have warned Brussels not to give in to what they perceive as blackmail from the Hungarian leader.
In the end, Orbán did a U-turn and allowed EU leaders to approve the start of negotiations for Ukraine to join the bloc.
There is more money at stake for Budapest and Orbán is still blocking a €50 billion aid package for Kyiv, which leaders are set to discuss early next year.