Fact Check: German Chancellor Did NOT Expel Orban From Ukraine Talks


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Fact Check: German Chancellor Did NOT Expel Orban From Ukraine Talks Just Suggested

Did German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expel Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban while other European Union Council members voted on the accession of Ukraine? No, that's not true: The chancellor suggested this tactic to Orban so they could have unanimity. According to Scholz, he offered some time for Orban to think, but Orban made a quick decision and left the room.

The claim appeared in a TikTok video (archived here) on December 15, 2023, under the title (translated from Hungarian to English by Lead Stories staff):

No comment! The German Chancellor expelled Orban from the room during the vote on Ukraine's EU accession. Those who were there know what happened.

Képernyőkép 2023-12-19 183904.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Tue Dec 19 18:39:34 2023 CET)

During his press conference on December 15, 2023, right after the meeting, Scholz told reporters (at the 12.04 mark) that he suggested Orban use the tactic to leave the room during the vote on Ukraine's EU accession. He said:

I submitted the proposal that the 26 member states can actively advance and drive ahead this process and are not prevented from doing so by one member of the European Union. So in the spirit of showing a behavior that is friendly towards the European Union, and it is in that spirit that I suggested to the Hungarian Prime Minister that he was to allow us to take that decision in his absence. He gave it some consideration. I asked him to take all the time he needed. But he reacted spontaneously and said that he would take up that proposal, that he wanted to take up that proposal.

It is clear that, according to the chancellor, it was a suggestion, not an order or expulsion.

Orban chose to leave the room while the leaders of the EU member states voted on the EU accession of Ukraine to secure the unanimity needed for the decision on December 14, 2023. The move was surprising as Orban had signaled earlier that he would block decisions in the EU Council and openly stated that the accession of Ukraine is not in the interest of Hungary.

Orban also explained the move in a short Facebook video right after the meeting. He stated that Hungary doesn't want to be part of this bad decision so he "stayed away from the decision-making today." A few days later he said something very similar on public radio: "I said that I do not want to participate, and Hungary does not want to participate in this bad decision; so you do it alone, and that's why I left the room instead." He did not mention Scholz.

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