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Hungary and Poland were backed by Slovenian political ally Janez Jansa Wednesday in opposing plans to tie EU funds to rule of law criteria, even as Orban hinted at a possible compromise.

Hungary and Poland blocked approval on Monday of the EU's long-term budget and coronavirus rescue -- a 1.8-trillion-euro package -- and plunged the bloc into a political crisis.

While Slovenia did not join the two countries on Monday in vetoing the plans, its prime minister weighed into the row on Wednesday.

"Some political groups... are openly threatening to use the instrument wrongly called 'rule of law' in order to discipline individual EU member states through a majority vote," Jansa said in a letter to EU Council President Charles Michel published in local media.

- Migration 'blackmail' -

Jansa is a close ally of Orban and has mimicked the Hungarian's hardline rhetoric on migration.

Orban said in a statement ahead of an EU leaders' summit on Thursday that Hungary, alongside Poland, had vetoed the EU's budget because it saw the rule of law conditions as tantamount to "blackmailing" countries that oppose migration.

The nationalist premier has frequently clashed with Brussels in recent years over his tough anti-migration stance and his statement on Wednesday sought to link the two issues.

"In Brussels today, they only view countries which let migrants in as those governed by the rule of law," Orban said.

"Once this proposal gets adopted, there will be no more obstacles to tying member states' share of common funds to supporting migration and (to the) use of financial means to blackmail countries which oppose migration," he said.

"In the migration-related debates of recent years, rule of law has transitioned into a political and ideological weapon from a legal point of reference," said Orban.

"In our view, tying economic and financial questions to political debates would be a grave mistake, one that would undermine Europe's unity," he added.

Orban has been implacably opposed to schemes floated in the wake of the 2015-16 migrant crisis to resettle refugees arriving in other parts of the continent, notably southern member states such as Italy and Greece.

- Compromise? -

EU leaders thought they had resolved disputes over the seven-year EU budget and associated stimulus plan at a marathon four-day-and-night summit in July.

They have since also resolved differences with the European Parliament over spending priorities, and the trillion-euro budget and 750-billion-euro stimulus package is ready for approval.

The vetoes triggered outrage in Brussels, with senior European diplomats saying there was no question of the other countries agreeing to loosen the rule of law condition.

Hungary and Poland's partners in the "Visegrad 4" alliance of Central European countries - Czech Republic and Slovakia - have also criticised the vetoes.

"The situation shows that we do not always have to be in agreement with our partners from the Visegrad Group," said Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek on Wednesday.

Slovakian government official Martin Klus urged "all member states to support the deal or please do not block it" at an EU video conference Tuesday.

A Visegrad Group video summit will take place Thursday before the EU leaders summit, said a Polish government statement.

Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban also said in a statement that rule of law is "an important protection to ensure taxpayer's money is spent in a just and effective manner".

"It is aligned to Romania's values and is a principle all European leaders should respect," he said.

Hinting at a possible compromise offer Orban said Wednesday that a deal should contain a clear definition of rule of law and a mechanism for countries to appeal sanctions.

"Without objective criteria and possibility of legal remedy, no procedure that aims to penalise member states should be based on it," he said.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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