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Guardian: Orban to make surprise visit to Kyiv

by Abbey Fenbert July 2, 2024 2:16 AM  (Updated: ) 2 min read
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban during his annual news conference in Budapest, Hungary, on Dec. 21, 2023. (Akos Stiller/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will make a surprise visit to Kyiv on July 2, three sources told the Guardian on July 1.

Orban is seen as Moscow’s main ally in the EU. Hungary has repeatedly blocked aid for Ukraine, and spoken against Kyiv’s NATO and EU accession.

Two sources in Budapest said that Orban intends to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv. The visit marks the first time Orban has traveled to neighboring Ukraine since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022.

A source on the Ukrainian side reportedly confirmed the plans.

"Orban is here tomorrow, unless there is a last-minute change," said the Kyiv source.

Presidential Adviser Mykhailo Podolyak declined to give an official comment.

The visit comes as Hungary takes over the European Union's rotating presidency of the EU Council. The appointment has sparked controversy, with some European officials calling on European Council President Charles Michel to suspend Hungary's presidency.

It is not clear whether or not Orban is visiting Ukraine as a representative of the EU or of Hungary alone, according to the Kyiv source.

"There is clearly a conflict (between the EU and Budapest)," the source said.

One of the sources in Budapest said that the visit was confirmed after negotiations on the rights of ethnic Hungarian minorities living in Ukraine

"It was a precondition for the meeting that the issue of nationality rights was resolved," the source said.

"In recent weeks, an agreement has been reached. They will be able to announce this as a success."

Budapest has repeatedly accused Kyiv of discriminating against the Hungarian ethnic minority concentrated in southwestern Ukraine, an accusation that the Ukrainian leadership denies.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has visited Russia at least five times since the onset of the full-scale war. He also visited Belarus in June in violation of EU sanctions.

European MPs call on Charles Michel to suspend Hungarian presidency of EU Council
German members of the European Parliament (MEPs) sent a letter to European Council President Charles Michel, demanding to suspend Hungary’s presidency of the EU Council.

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