Espreso. Global

Orban's visit to Kyiv is symbolic

3 July, 2024 Wednesday

The first visit of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to the Ukrainian capital in many years was seen by many as his desire to demonstrate that, as the EU's presidency, Hungary can also play an important role in aligning with the main goals of a united Europe


Specifically, this includes assisting Ukraine in countering Russian aggression and finding pathways to achieve peace and end Russia's war against Ukraine - of course, as seen by official Budapest. 

Another reason for this trip was believed to be the end of negotiations between Viktor Orban and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on the possibility of Fidesz joining the group in the European Parliament led by Meloni's party. However, shortly before Viktor Orban visited the Ukrainian capital, we saw that these talks ended without any real result and that Viktor Orban was creating his own faction in the European Parliament, which has already been joined by several far-right parties on the continent. 

The Hungarian prime minister's visit to the Ukrainian capital mainly centered around his careful proposal for a ceasefire along the contact line between Russian and Ukrainian troops.

So far, no one has officially said in the presence of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who did not react to the Hungarian prime minister's proposal, that a ceasefire is the most realistic way to end the war between Russia and Ukraine. Some observers believe that Orban is offering a Russian narrative. However, the Kremlin quickly distanced itself from the Hungarian prime minister's visit, emphasizing that it did not anticipate any real progress from his trip to Kyiv.

It's evident that the Russian proposal for a ceasefire doesn't imply an actual cessation of hostilities on the contact line between Russian and Ukrainian troops. Putin conditions peace talks with Ukraine on the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from regions formally annexed by Russia - Crimea, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia. Ukrainian forces control parts of these regions, and they even regained control of Kherson after Russian occupation. Putin insists on the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from these areas as the only path to a ceasefire between the two countries.

Orban's proposal aligns more closely with China's rather than Russia's approach to ending or pausing the war between Russia and Ukraine. During his visit to Kyiv, the Hungarian Prime Minister aimed to demonstrate loyalty not to Brussels, Washington (where he awaits a potential Donald Trump presidency before engaging with the U.S.), or Moscow, but to Beijing. Orban's frequent trips to Beijing and efforts to forge a special relationship with Xi Jinping underline his political stance on resolving the Russian-Ukrainian war. Xi Jinping's recent visit to Budapest and discussions with Orban about ending the war in Ukraine also highlight this diplomatic approach.

All the other points that were discussed between Viktor Orban and Volodymyr Zelenskyy are the background for these key words of the Hungarian prime minister. As you know, many of Hungary's claims against Ukraine are more virtual than fundamental in nature, primarily aimed at delaying Ukraine's accession to the EU.

However, the majority of negotiations between Ukraine and the EU will occur after the Hungarian EU presidency ends, limiting Viktor Orban's influence. His conditions will only make sense if they are legally sound and meet European standards. check the mistakes.

In any case, we are now discussing the long-term process of Ukraine's European integration, which will only be meaningful once we can talk about a real end to the war between Russia and Ukraine. This also applies to our country's Euro-Atlantic integration process. Currently, Ukraine awaits the NATO summit and consensus among allies regarding the pace of its Euro-Atlantic integration. However, it is not Hungary, but the United States and Germany that are now playing the role of those countries that are in no hurry to change their position on this Euro-Atlantic integration. 

So, the visit of the Hungarian prime minister is indeed an important symbolic event. It is not coincidental that the US Ambassador to Hungary notes progress in relations between Kyiv and Budapest, as well as Hungary's general stance towards its role in the European Union and the North Atlantic Alliance.

The true purpose of Viktor Orban's visit to the Ukrainian capital only became apparent after he held a briefing with the participants of the talks, appearing publicly alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. It remains to be seen whether Hungary's rhetoric towards Ukraine will become more cautious and whether it will refrain from hindering assistance from other EU and NATO countries in the future stages of our confrontation with Russia.

However, the visit itself does not guarantee such developments in the near future.


About the author. Vitaly Portnikov, journalist, winner of the Shevchenko National Prize of Ukraine.

The editors don't always share the opinions expressed by the authors of the blogs.

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