Belgium urges to deprive Hungary of the voting rights in the EU

Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib
Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib

Belgian Foreign Minister, Hadja Lahbib, urges on the EU countries to consider moving ahead with depriving Hungary of voting rights in the EU due to Budapest’s obstructions on Ukraine military aid and imposing sanctions on Russia, Politico reported.

Belgium advocates advancing the EU’s Article 7 censure procedure applied to Hungary, the publication wrote.

Article 7 of EU Treaty allows for the possibility of suspending European Union (EU) membership rights (such as voting rights in the Council of the European Union) if a country seriously and persistently breaches the principles on which the EU is founded as defined in Article 2 (respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities).

" “We have a Europe that is making difficult headway, with unfortunately some states — one state in particular — increasingly adopting a transactional, blocking and veto attitude,” she told Politico.

“I think we should have the courage to make a decision whether to go to the end of Article 7, to activate Article 7 to the end, which provides for the the right of veto termination."

Read also: Hungarian Foreign Minister critiques European policy ideas on Ukraine

Hungary will replace Belgium, current holder of the rotating Council of the EU presidency, in July, giving Budapest more influence over the EU's agenda and priorities for six months. This is happening amid the country's Prime Minister Viktor Orban's obstruction of EU decisions regarding military aid to Ukraine, sanctions against Russia, and Kyiv's accession to the bloc.

"This is the moment of truth,” Belgian FM noted.

“Either we face our responsibilities, which requires political courage and willpower. Or we introduce mechanisms that do not work. The choice has to be made. If we go all the way with this mechanism, it should work. If it doesn't work, we have to reform it. This is the future of the European Union."

Hungary has not yet decided whether it will participate in the Global Peace Summit, which is to be held on June 15-16 in Switzerland, it was reported earlier.

Tensions and Talks in Ukrainian-Hungarian Relations

Relations between Hungary and Ukraine have been tense, particularly over issues of minority rights in the Zakarpattya Oblast. During a January 11 visit to Uzhhorod, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, alongside Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba and the Presidential Office head Andriy Yermak, engaged in talks that lasted over six hours. The discussions concluded with an agreement to address minority rights, with a special commission set to outline unresolved issues within ten days.

Szijjártó has been vocal about Ukraine's alleged infringements on the rights of Hungarian minorities, stating that Hungary would block Ukraine-NATO cooperation until these issues are resolved. Kuleba accused Hungary of "fundamentally promoting the issue of national minorities" in its policies on Nov. 7, 2023.

Interactions between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban have been limited. He never discussed a ceasefire or negotiations with Russian leader Vladimir Putin with Orban, Zelenskyy reported on Dec. 19.

He accepted an invitation from Zelenskyy for talks, following a brief interaction at Argentina's President Javier Milei inauguration on Dec. 10., Orban alleged on Dec. 21, however.

"I told him that I would be at his service. We only need to clarify one question: about what," Hungarian PM said then.

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