None of the EU leaders wants a war, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said, regarding the rapidly escalating conflict between Russia and Ukraine after meeting President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Tuesday.
“My visit today is also a kind of peace mission. I would like to reassure you that none of the leaders of the European Union and its member nations want a war or conflicts,” Prime Minister Orbán said, according to reports by Russian news agency TASS, based on the few minutes of the meeting that were made public.
“We call for political solutions and mutually beneficial agreements,” Orbán added, noting that the European Union is “ready for a reasonable agreement.”
Russia “impressed” with Orbán gov’t
Prior to the meeting, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov praised Hungary’s “independence” as he announced that Russian President Vladimir Putin would host Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Tuesday. Peskov said on Monday that Moscow was impressed with “Hungary’s independent approach to representing its interests and picking its friends.” “It is also impressive that we could carry on with our many economic projects despite the coronavirus pandemic, and continue to discuss international affairs, including the most pressing ones,” he said.
Regarding Ukraine, the Russian President noted that Moscow has already sent its proposals concerning international security to NATO and the US. “It would be very important to me to exchange opinions with you on the current situation in the security sphere. I will gladly inform you on how this process is developing,” Putin said.
Orbán said that he had appealed to everyone attending the meeting to take a stand for a peaceful resolution and de-escalation.Continue reading
In his opening remarks, Orbán outlined that he had met with Putin twelve times during the past thirteen years. “The two of us have had the longest history in EU-Russia ties,” he added.
“That’s a long time,” Orbán said noting that “Practically everybody who used to be a colleague of mine in running an EU country is not a colleague anymore.”
Referring to the gas contract, the Hungarian PM said Hungary aims to negotiate an increase in the volume of natural gas delivered to the country under its long-term gas contract with Russia.
President Putin said that the gas contract in effect until 2036 ensured Hungary’s long-term stability. Under the contract, Hungary can also purchase gas well below the market price, Putin added.
Orbán called the contract “very important,” adding that Hungary aimed to negotiate an increase of the gas volume therein.
The meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in Moscow on 1 February 2022. Photo via Kremlin/MTI
The Hungarian PM thanked Putin for Russia’s deliveries of coronavirus vaccines, noting that some 900,000 Hungarians were inoculated with Sputnik V.
Orbán said that despite the current “difficult times,” 2021 had been the most successful year in bilateral cooperation with Russia. The coronavirus pandemic and energy supplies, he added, had been the biggest challenges.
Viktor Orbán also mentioned the upcoming parliamentary elections to the Russian President. Orbán said he wasn’t planning to leave. “There are elections in April. I’m going to run and win,” he said. “That’s why I have a reasonable assumption that you and I will cooperate for many years to come.”
In response, Putin said the Hungarian government led by Viktor Orbán did a lot to develop Russian-Hungarian relations.
“We usually say on occasions like this, when our partners are holding elections soon, that we will work with any government that will be elected,” Putin said at the meeting. “But I have to mention your work with respect to Russia has resulted in a lot of achievements in the interests of the Hungarian people and in the interests of Russia.”
“I hope this mutual work will be continued,” he went on to say.
Both Orbán and Putin praised bilateral business cooperation
Orbán said cooperation related to the Paks nuclear power plant was “progressing fantastically,” and Hungarian investments which were also approved by the Russian government had taken place, adding that he would put forward proposals to further develop cooperation in this area.
Putin noted that bilateral trade turnover increased by 30 percent in the first 11 months of last year, adding that besides nuclear energy, major projects in engineering were also taking place between the two countries.
In the featured photo: Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the end of a press conference after their meeting in February 2017. Photo by Zsolt Szigetváry/MTI