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Kuleba: Orban is pro-Hungarian, not pro-Russian

by Rachel Amran and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 30, 2024 7:22 PM 2 min read
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaks during a joint press conference with High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell (not pictured) on Oct. 2, 2023, in Kyiv. (Vitalii Nosach/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)
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Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba considers Hungarian President Viktor Orban and Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto to be pro-Hungarian, not pro-Russian, Hungarian news outlet Telex reported on Jan. 30.

In response to a question about pro-Russian sentiments among Hungarian political leadership, Kuleba recalled an instance during a recent meeting with Szijjarto in which the Hungarian official highlighted his respect for Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Szijjarto visited Ukraine on Jan. 29 for bilateral talks with Kuleba and Ukraine's Presidential Office Head Andrii Yermak to engage in a "frank and constructive dialogue" between the two countries and discuss the potential for a long-anticipated high-level meeting between Orban and President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Following talks with Kuleba and Yermak, the Hungarian official announced at a press briefing that a meeting between Orban and Zelensky is a long way away.

Hungary and Ukraine have had a contentious relationship that has worsened since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion. Orban has maintained close ties with Russia, bucking the united front that the EU has tried to present in support of Ukraine.

Kuleba discussed differences in the way Ukraine and Hungary envision an end to the war and the preconditions for peace with Russia. According to Szijjarto, an end to the war can not be born on the battlefields, so negotiations with Russia should be held in favor of peace.  

"We really have a difference of opinion here," Kuleba responded. "We think Russia can only be forced to negotiate meaningfully with the results achieved on the battlefield. If we were to sit down at the negotiating table without it, Russia would only gain time, which it would use for preparations to continue the fight with even greater momentum."

Kuleba also stated that Hungary's opposition to Ukraine's EU membership does not affect the relationship between the two countries.

"I told Peter: Look, you are members of this big European family, we also want to be part of it. But the arguments you have between you don't have to affect our relationship with each other...it is clear that Ukraine's EU membership coincides with Hungary's strategic interests. The fact that Peter could not say more than what he said at the press conference probably has domestic political reasons."

Kuleba: Ukraine, Hungary to set up special commission to resolve national minorities issue
Ukraine and Hungary agreed to establish a special commission to deal with the unresolved issues of national minorities and to present a “concrete understanding” of this topic within 10 days, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Jan. 29.

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