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Deputy PM: Kyiv working on Orban's visit to Ukraine

by Kateryna Denisova and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 26, 2024 12:36 AM 1 min read
President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (R) attend the inauguration ceremony of Argentina's new President Javier Milei in Buenos Aires on Dec. 10, 2023. (Fernando Gens/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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Ukraine is working to organize an official visit of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the first in 14 years, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olha Stefanishyna confirmed to Reuters on Jan. 25.

In late December 2023, Orban said he had received an invitation from President Volodymyr Zelensky to hold a bilateral meeting in the future and accepted it.

The two leaders were last seen talking on the sidelines of the inauguration of Argentina's President Javier Milei on Dec. 10 last year, which Ukraine’s president previously described as a "frank" conversation.

A separate meeting, already agreed upon, between foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba and his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto will be held on Jan. 29 in Uzhhorod in preparation for an upcoming high-level meeting between Zelensky and Orban in Ukraine, Stefanishyna said in Brussels, Radio Svoboda reported.

"The prime minister (of Hungary) last visited Ukraine in 2010, a country we barely remember anymore (compared to the Ukraine of today). It is important for us that he comes,” she noted.

According to Stefanishyna, it is “crucial for her to see Orban in Kyiv because he plays not an easy role in making historic decisions for Ukraine.”

Budapest blocked the EU’s endorsement of a financial assistance package for Ukraine consisting of 50 billion euros ($55 billion) during the European Council summit in December 2023. EU leaders are to reconvene on the issue on Feb. 1, with Brussels signaling that a deal might be reached even without Hungary's approval.

Hungary continues to undermine Western aid efforts and sanctions against Russia. Budapest has maintained warm relations with Moscow amid the all-out war, and Hungarian top officials have visited Russia repeatedly since February 2022. Orban met Russian dictator Vladimir Putin in October 2023 in Beijing, which was criticized by some EU leaders.

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