Hungary’s Orban: help for Ukraine should not hurt EU’s budget

BUDAPEST (Reuters) -The European Union should help Ukraine as it fights Russia’s invasion but not by diverting resources from the bloc’s budget, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Tuesday.

Hungary has opposed efforts to revamp the EU budget to channel 50 billion euros to Kyiv and provide more cash for other tasks such as managing migration. EU leaders are set to discuss the issue at a summit on Feb. 1.

“If we want to help Ukraine, which I think we need to do, we have to do it in a way that doesn’t harm the EU’s budget,” Orban told a news conference.

“But to give away 50 billion euros from the EU budget for four years in advance is a violation of the EU’s sovereignty and national interests. We do not even know what will happen in a quarter of a year.”

Orban said any financial facility for Ukraine should be separate from the EU budget. He said Hungary’s proposal for creating such a mechanism was based on allocating aid on the basis of gross national income (GNI).

“If Brussels accepts this, then there’ll be help for Ukraine, outside the budget,” he said. “If not, then I’ll be sad to halt this process.”

Orban was speaking after meeting Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who like his Hungarian counterpart has said there is no military solution to the crisis in Ukraine, nearly two years after Russia’s invasion.

Fico said Slovakia supported Hungary in fighting for its interests and that his government would not support any measures limiting Budapest’s rights inside the EU.

He said Orban had a “legitimate” fight in his opposition to EU budget changes and signalled support at the upcoming summit.

“The Slovak government will support proposals the premier of Hungary has already put forward or will put forward,” Fico said.

(Reporting by Boldizsar Gyori in Budapest and Jason Hovet in Prague; Editing by Ros Russell and Gareth Jones)