The EU and member states react to Orbán’s visit to Moscow

Orbán Viktor @PM_ViktorOrban

On July 1, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, whose country is serving the Council’s rotating presidency until December 31 2024, paid a surprise visit to Kyiv. While Orbán doesn’t represent the EU, he tried to present his act as its commitment to peace. However, the visit resulted in an insult to Ukrainian victims, including thousands of civilians, of the Russian invasion. He proposed to Kyiv’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a ceasefire that would only benefit the aggressor, which Ukraine rejected.

The Prime Minister of Hungary is a de facto ally of Vladimir Putin within the EU. Many countries and European lawmakers repeatedly questioned the capacity of the Hungarian government to assume the rotating Presidency of the EU. In the end, EU Council President Charles Michel remained at his post to preside over the Council’s meeting, reducing Orbán’s role to purely decorative.    

Today, Orbán decided to provoke the EU’s and Ukraine’s democratic sentiments. He is visiting Moscow to meet his long-time friend Putin.

The visit provoked robust reactions from the EU and several member states.

In a statement issued today, High Representative Josep Borrell underlined that “Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s visit to Moscow takes place, exclusively, in the framework of the bilateral relations between Hungary and Russia”.

“Hungary is now the EU Member State serving the rotating presidency of the Council until December 31 2024. That does not entail any external representation of the Union which is responsibility of the President of the European Council at the Head of State or Government level and of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy at Ministerial level,” stressed the High Representative.

“Prime Minister Orbán has not received any mandate from the EU Council to visit Moscow. The EU position on Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine is reflected in many European Council conclusions. That position excludes official contacts between the EU and President Putin. The Hungarian Prime Minister is thus not representing the EU in any form. In addition, it is worth recalling that President Putin has been indicted by the International Criminal Court and an arrest warrant released for his role in relation to the forced deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia,” the High Representative’s statement emphasised.

Several EU member states prime misters made similar comments reiterating the EU’s firm commitment to Ukraine’s support.

“Viktor #Orbán travels to Putin as Hungarian Prime Minister. The European Council is represented in foreign policy by Charles Michel. The EU’s position is very clear: we condemn the Russian war of aggression. Ukraine can count on our support,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz posted on X.

“PM Orbán on his way to Moscow: “We will serve as an important tool in making the first step towards peace”. The question is in whose hands this tool is,” ironised Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

“In Moscow, Viktor Orbán in no way represents the EU or the EU’s positions. He is exploiting the EU presidency position to sow confusion. The EU is united, clearly behind Ukraine and against Russian aggression,” the next EU’s High Representative and Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas wrote on her X account.

The Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson called the visit of the Hungarian Prime Minister irresponsible and disloyal.

“Irresponsible and disloyal of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to use Hungary’s EU Presidency to visit Moscow and President Putin. It sends the wrong signal to the outside world and is an insult to the Ukrainian people’s fight for their freedom. Viktor Orbán stands alone in this. He does not speak for the European Union and not for other EU Heads of State or Government,” PM Kristersson posted.

“Viktor Orbán does not represent our or EU interests in Moscow. Nor does he have any mandate to negotiate on our behalf. The Czech position is clear: Putin is the aggressor, we stand with Ukraine,” the Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala also posted on X.

Even the Dutch government, supported by the pro-Russian Geert Wilders, leader of the far-right Party for Freedom (PVV), reiterated its support for “Ukraine politically, militarily and financially against Russian aggression, whatever it takes and for as long as it takes.”

On July 3, the new Dutch Prime Minister, Dick Schoof, had a first conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“I assured him that the Netherlands’ support for his country is rock solid; we will continue to support Ukraine politically, militarily and financially against Russian aggression, whatever it takes and for as long as it takes. We also looked ahead to the upcoming NATO Summit next week in Washington, where I look forward to meeting President Zelenskyy in person,” the Dutch Prime Minister posted on X.

Orbán is completely isolated within the EU. Deprived of presiding over the EU council, he tries to make noise about an imaginary role he can play in EU affairs. Last week, he declared the establishment of a new far-right group in the European Parliament, the Patriots for Europe, which turned out to be a simple change of name of the Identity and Democracy group of Marine Le Pen.

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