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Brussels’ Pride Wounded as Viktor Orbán Arrives in Moscow on a One-man Peace Mission

Dániel Deme 2024.07.05.

Viktor Orbán is in Moscow today for talks as part of what he refers to as his “peace mission”. The Hungarian prime minister, who holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, will meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Russia’s Ria Novosti has already shared footage of the Prime Minister’s visit to Moscow on its Telegram channel, reported Magyar Nemzet.

In his welcoming address to the press before the meeting, the Hungarian prime minister recalled that this was the 14th bilateral meeting with the Russian president since 2009. He added, however, that this time was more special than the previous ones. He also recalled that he had last visited Moscow in February 2022, before the war.
The Prime Minister thanked the Russian President for hosting him “even under such difficult circumstances”.

He stressed that we are slowly running out of countries that can talk to both sides in the two wars, Hungary is slowly becoming the only country in Europe that can talk to everyone.

The Hungarian Prime Minister said that he wanted to use this opportunity to exchange views with the Russian President on important issues and to get his views on some of the issues that are important for Europe.
“I hope we will have the opportunity to exchange views on bilateral relations in this difficult situation. And, of course, to talk about the prospects for the development of the biggest crisis in Europe, namely in Ukraine,” the Vladimir Puting said of the meeting in a live broadcast on Russia’s Rossiya 1 television.
“Of course, I am ready to discuss the details with you on this issue and I expect you to present me your position, the position of your European partners,” he added. The Russian leader also stressed that as far as Russian-Hungarian bilateral relations are concerned, there is unfortunately a big drop of 35 percent in trade in goods. Overall, we have a lot to work on and we are implementing projects, Putin added. The meeting was also be attended by Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó and Russian diplomatic chief Sergei Lavrov.

Reacting to the news, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said on Friday that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has not received a mandate from the Council of the European Union to visit Moscow, and the Hungarian Prime Minister does not represent the EU in any way.

In a statement from Brussels, Josep Borrell, stressed that Hungary currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union as an EU member state until 31 December. This does not imply the external representation of the Union, which is the responsibility of the President of the European Council at the level of Heads of State or Government and of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy at ministerial level.

Photo: X Josep Borrell

He recalled that the EU’s position on Russia’s war against Ukraine is reflected in a number of conclusions of the European Council, which is made up of the leaders of the member states, and that this position, he said, precludes any formal contacts between the EU and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Hungarian prime minister therefore does not represent the EU in any way. The Hungarian prime minister’s visit to Moscow will take place exclusively in the framework of Hungarian-Russian bilateral relations, he stressed.

MTI/Miniszterelnöki Sajtóiroda/Benko Vivien Cher

It is also worth recalling that there is an arrest warrant against President Putin by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for his role in the forced deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia and for suspected war crimes, the EU diplomat added.

Viktor Orbán’s visit to Moscow comes only a few days after meeting Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, where he directly tabled a proposal for a time-limited ceasefire between the warring sides. As for President Putin, in a recent statement during a press conference in Kazakhstan the Russian leader said that he takes presidential candidate Donald Trump’s declaration to stop the war in Ukraine “completely seriously.”

I am not, of course, familiar with possible proposals for how he plans to do this. This is the key question. But I have no doubt that he means it sincerely, and we support it”,

the Russian leader said.

The statement implies that Vladimir Putin is looking ahead of a possible negotiated peace solution with Donald Trump in the White House, should the former president be re-elected. At the same time, the Hungarian Prime Minister’s unilateral decision to make a trip both to Ukraine and Russia is an open challenge to what he sees as the EU’s misguided approach and inaction towards the war in Ukraine. Despite Josep Borrell’s thinly veiled exasperation, voices for a negotiated solution to the conflict are growing within the European Union. President Zelensky himself has recently suggested that a second round of peace negotiations should include the Russian leadership, even though no commitment for a withdrawal from occupied Ukrainian territories was offered in return from the Russian side.

Reacting to PM Orbán’s visit to Moscow, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a statement published in Mandiner that “there is no military solution to the Russian-Ukrainian war. Peace can only be achieved through diplomatic negotiations. At the end of the day, it will be up to the parties to decide. But the first step is to restore the channels of communication. The Hungarian prime minister is doing the right thing by working on this.”

The article is to be updated.

Viktor Orbán Explores the Possibility of a Ceasefire on his Visit to Kyiv
Viktor Orbán Explores the Possibility of a Ceasefire on his Visit to Kyiv

Bilateral talks will include the question of peace talks, as well as the situation of the Hungarian minority in Ukraine.Continue reading

Via MTI; Featured Image: MTI/Miniszterelnöki Sajtóiroda/Benko Vivien Cher


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