“What we have now is war, and war can only be stopped by way of talks and a ceasefire,” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in Beregsurány, at the Hungary-Ukraine border, on Thursday.
Asked what message he would have for Russian President Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, Orbán said he did not have messages for them, only to the refugees present at the press conference. “Hungary is a good friend of Ukraine, and Ukrainians can rely on us,” he said, adding that he did not think the leaders of the two countries would be “in need of a message or advice” from him. “They are big boys; they know better than me what to do.” “The thing Hungarians wish for is peace,” the prime minister said, adding that he was hoping for the same “from the bottom of his heart”.
Orban said his government had tried everything in the pursuit of successful talks. “What we have now is war, and war can only be stopped by way of talks and a ceasefire. That, however, is not up to the leaders of Europe or the Hungarian prime minister, but Russians and Ukrainians — primarily up to the Russians,” Orbán said. “Hungary will always be available should the Russians and Ukrainians need it for peace talks,” he added.
Orbán said that, similarly to the chancellor of Germany and the president of France, he had fulfilled a “peace mission” when he met Russian President Vladimir Putin in early February, trying to facilitate the avoidance of war through talks. “I think we had created that possibility and regret that the opportunity could not become reality,” he said.
Answering a question, Orbán said Hungary’s foreign minister was in contact with both Russia and Ukraine. He said that personally he had not had talks with those countries’ officials since the outbreak of the war. “I will have talks when needed,” he said.
In his response to a question about the upgrade of the Paks nuclear plant, Orbán said the two new reactors “will be completed on schedule”. The enlarged plant is necessary for the country; without that facility “Hungarian industry would be less competitive and families would pay more for utilities … the government has no reason to change its earlier plans and is not mulling doing so”, he said.
Featured photo by Vivien Cher Benko/PM’s Press Office