Belgian liberal politician Guy Verhofstadt, an adamant critic of the Orbán government, has recently expressed the opinion that it would be a good idea to kick Hungary, obviously a troublemaker in Mr Verhofstadt’s eyes, out of the EU, and replace it with Ukraine. He proposed his interesting idea on Twitter, writing: ‘Blackmail is Orbán’s cynical and reckless game… because we let him get away with it. Maybe we’re better off with Orbán out of Europe… and Zelensky in!’.
His rant was a result of news about the EU funds being promised to Hungary, as in recent days several anonymous sources have confirmed that an agreement between Brussels and Budapest may be reached soon regarding the Hungarian government’s responses to the rule of law concerns raised by Brussels. Citing their unnamed sources, both Politico and Reuters suggested that Hungary will soon receive the EU cash that the European Commission has been withholding.
Hungary has until this Saturday to implement the 17 steps set out by Brussels. Once that is done, the Commission will present an evaluation of the Orbán government’s measures, on 30 November according to POLITICO. The decision on whether to release the funds will officially be decided by the EU’s finance ministers on 6 December, but reports have suggested that a deal has already been struck with Hungary. reached.
Verhofstadt is not the only MEP who has been infuriated by the prospect of EU funding for Hungary being unlocked in the near future. The majority of the European Parliament is opposed to releasing the funds, and according to a recent memorandum, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands are all requesting that the Commission conduct a ‘thorough and updated risk analysis’ of the 17 measures.
While it is evident that Hungary is on the path to fix relations with the EU and its member states, for some reason Verhofstadt is so entrenched in his aversion to Orbán that he seems to be unable to stop waging his private war against the country. While harsh criticism of the Hungarian government never comes as a surprise from the Belgian MEP, his latest comment is exceptionally bizarre.
Recent press reports have suggested that Russian soldiers may have been executed by Ukrainian military after they had surrendered. While international reports have mainly highlighted the human rights abuses committed by Russian troops, according to the UN’s monitoring mission in Ukraine and other agencies as well Ukraine is also suspected of committing abuses. According to an October UN report, Ukrainian forces have also committed international humanitarian law violations in some cases, including two incidents that qualify as war crimes. As far as the latest controversial case is concerned, Ukrainian ombudsperson Dmytro Lubinets said on Telegram that the videos presented by Moscow as evidence that Kyiv executed Russian prisoners of war actually show that Russian soldiers ‘using false surrender’ committed a war crime by opening fire on Ukrainian troops. Because Russian soldiers died in that incident, Lubinets argued, they cannot be considered prisoners of war.
It is hard to comprehend how Mr Verhofstadt could believe that a country that is currently at war and has committed war crimes, would be a better fit for the EU than Hungary, a country that has advocated peace since the start of the war.