01 March 2024,   20:48
Macron hosts Hungary’s Orban in bid to break Ukraine deadlock

French President Emmanuel Macron met Prime Minister Viktor Orban in a bid to break the deadlock ahead of an EU summit after the Hungarian leader threatened to block further backing for Ukraine, writes Barron’s.

Macron welcomed Orban at the Elysee Palace for a working dinner to discuss, according to the French presidency, “several subjects” on the agenda for the EU summit next week, including “various aspects of European support for Ukraine”.

The EU wants to agree new financial aid and starting EU membership talks with Kyiv at next week"s summit but fears Orban could stand in the way.

The dinner marks a rare welcome by a major Western European leader for the Hungarian strongman, who has retained closer ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin than any other EU leader, even after Moscow’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

But it comes as concern grows that Orban could torpedo the chance to take key decisions concerning Ukraine at the EU summit on December 14-15, with Macron intervening in his position as one of Europe"s most powerful figures.

In a letter sent to EU chief Charles Michel on Monday, Orban demanded the postponement of key decisions on Ukraine, including additional financial aid and the possibility of beginning EU membership negotiations.