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Viktor Orban meets Vladimir Putin in Moscow and creates an uproar in the EU

Photo: Vivien Cher Benko Office of the Hungarian Prime Minister via Agence France-Presse Viktor Orban is in Moscow on a peace mission, according to the Hungarian government.

Agence France-Presse in Moscow

Published at 8:20

  • Europe

Vladimir Putin welcomed Friday the visit to the Kremlin of the Hungarian Prime Minister to talk about Ukraine, seeing in Viktor Orban the representative of the European Union (EU) despite denials from Brussels.

“I understand that this time you have come not only as a long-standing partner, but also as President of the Council” of the EU, Mr. Putin said .

“I expect you to tell me your position (on Ukraine) and that of the European partners,” he said. added, while the EU has already said that Mr. Orban does not have a European mandate.

Three days after his first trip to kyiv since the start of the Russian offensive in February 2022, the Hungarian nationalist leader went to Moscow “as part of his peace mission”, according to the Hungarian government.

“The number of countries that can talk to both sides of the war is decreasing. Hungary is gradually becoming the only country in Europe that can talk to everyone,” Mr. Orban told Mr. Putin.

Russian request for capitulation

The Russian president recalled that in June he had outlined his conditions for peace in Ukraine: that Ukraine cede to him the four Ukrainian regions of which Moscow claims annexation, in addition to Crimea, and renounces its alliance with the West. De facto a request for capitulation.

Mr. Orban, during his visit to kyiv, judged that Ukraine should accept a ceasefire, a position swept aside by the West and the Ukrainians.

Ukraine is demanding a “just peace” which involves the withdrawal of Russian troops and respect for its territorial integrity.

“You were in kyiv recently. You came here to discuss all the nuances existing in the Ukrainian file,” Mr. Putin noted on Friday.

But for the EU, which has cut ties with Moscow and harshly sanctioned Russia, Mr. Orban, whose country has held the biannual presidency of the Council of the European Union since July 1, is not its representative in Moscow for this visit, and is not authorized to speak about Ukraine in his name.

He received “no mandate”, insisted on Friday the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell, Mr. Orban “ therefore does not represent the EU in any way”.

Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, which brings together the leaders of the Twenty-Seven, reacted on Thursday evening to the unofficial announcement of this trip.

“The rotating EU presidency has no mandate to engage in dialogue with Russia on behalf of the EU,” Mr Michel wrote on X. “The position of the European Council is clear: Russia is the aggressor , Ukraine is the victim. No discussion can take place without Ukraine. »

EU solidarity with Ukraine will not weaken, assured German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

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“In the service of God”

The Hungarian leader, who has since the beginning of Russia's assault on Ukraine defended a lenient stance towards Moscow, arousing the ire of Europeans, considered himself, before his departure from Budapest, to be on a mission for peace.

“Hungary does not have the mandate nor international political weight […] but we can be an instrument in the service of God and of those who want peace,” he said, remarks made Friday before his trip to Moscow was confirmed.< /p>

The rotating presidency within the EU, which Hungary holds until the end of the year, allows the country which holds it to control the agenda of the meetings of the 27, with the exception of those of the ministers of the Foreign affairs, a significant but not absolute power, according to several European diplomats.

Budapest had promised to ensure a “normal” presidency, despite the numerous disagreements, particularly on Russia, which pits it against its partners.

“We will act as an impartial mediator,” said the Minister of European Affairs Janos Boka, before adding that Hungary will take the opportunity to put forward its “vision of Europe” and “straighten the course […] in the right direction”.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116