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Hungary cancels visit by German FM Baerbock after criticism of Orban's Moscow visit

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk July 6, 2024 12:18 PM 2 min read
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban looks on as he makes a speech during a joint press statement with Russian President Vladimir Putin (not seen) following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia on July 5, 2024 (Sefa Karacan/Anadolu via Getty Images)
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Hungary canceled German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock's planned visit to Budapest, Germany's Foreign Office said on July 5, after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz criticized Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's trip to Moscow.

Orban met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 5 on an unannounced visit to Moscow that came days after meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv for the first time since the start of the full-scale war.

"You cannot make peace from a comfortable armchair in Brussels," Orban said on X.

"Viktor Orban is visiting Putin as Hungarian Prime Minister. In foreign policy, the European Council is represented by (European Council President) Charles Michel," Scholz said, referring to the fact that Hungary has recently assumed the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union.

"The EU's position is very clear: we condemn the Russian war of aggression. Ukraine can rely on our support," Scholz added.

Michel also said that Hungary "has no mandate to engage with Russia on behalf of the EU."

Baerbock had been scheduled to visit Budapest on July 8, but the trip will be rescheduled at a later date, the German Foreign Office said.

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Orban said on July 5 he had discussed the situation in Ukraine with Putin and found that Ukraine and Russia's stances on the full-scale invasion and prospects for peace are "very far apart."

In Kyiv, Orban urged Zelensky to consider a ceasefire in order to "speed up peace talks," and said that while Ukraine's peace initiatives were admirable, they are taking "too long."

Deputy Head of the Presidential Office Ihor Zhovkva said that Zelensky listened to Orban but repeated Ukraine's "clear, understandable, and well-known" position. Kyiv has stated that a temporary break to hostilities would only provide a window of opportunity for Russia to regroup its forces.

The visits to Kyiv and Moscow come as Ukraine continues to face a difficult situation on the battlefield. Russia continues to pressure Ukraine along the front, launching a new offensive in Kharkiv Oblast and steadily pushing into a key town of Chasiv Yar in Donetsk Oblast.

Budapest has repeatedly opposed Ukraine's accession to NATO and the EU and sanctions on Russia, undermined Western aid efforts for Ukraine, and maintained close relations with Moscow throughout the full-scale war.

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