Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has officially requested that the main topic be removed from the agenda of the summit of the leaders of the European Union: the issue of starting negotiations on the admission of Ukraine to the EU - which is the first topic on the agenda of that meeting, and financing Kiev with billions of euros in the fight against the Russian invasion.
In a letter to European Council President Charles Michel, who will chair the Dec. 14-15 summit in Brussels, Orban insisted that a "strategic discussion" on Ukraine's European future was needed first and warned that "forcing a decision could destroy EU unity." .
Decisions on the enlargement of the EU and the revision of its long-term budget, which includes 50 billion euros in aid to Kyiv, can only be taken unanimously by all 27 member states of the Union.
"I respectfully urge you not to invite the European Council to decide on these issues in December, because the apparent lack of consensus would inevitably lead to failure," Orban wrote in a letter today seen by The Associated Press.
EU leaders, he wrote, "must avoid this counterproductive scenario for the sake of unity - our most important asset".
He did not openly say that Hungary would veto any moves to open negotiations on the admission of Ukraine, but the threat was implicit.
Michel's office declined to comment on Orbán's letter.
Ukraine is counting on EU funds to help its war-torn economy survive next year.
The European Commission, which oversees the enlargement process, recommended last month that Ukraine be allowed to start EU accession talks only after Kiev tackles issues such as corruption, lobbying and restrictions on minorities learning and reading in their languages.
Orban claims that Ukraine is "light years" away from joining the EU and that its membership would not be in Hungary's interest.
Orban is widely regarded as one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's closest allies in Europe, and his nationalist government has long opposed EU sanctions on Russia over its 2022 invasion and has held back financial aid to Kiev.
Orban also claims that accession negotiations should not begin with a country that is at war, and that the eventual admission of Ukraine to the EU would drastically change the way the 27-member EU distributes funds among member states.
In the letter, Orban criticized the European Commission's proposal to start talks with Kiev without fulfilling all the preconditions for it, saying that it "signals the end of the European Union's enlargement policy as an objective instrument based on merit."
He described the European Commission's proposal for the revision of the budget for 2021-27 as "unfounded, unbalanced and unrealistic".
Orbán is in conflict with the Commission, which criticizes him for the state of the rule of law and corruption in Hungary. The EU has frozen billions in funding to Budapest because of these problems, but has recently released some money, and is expected to do so again before the summit.
In the letter, Orban states that the release of funds intended for Hungary has not changed his opinion about Ukraine.