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Orban urges Zelensky to consider ceasefire during visit to Kyiv

by Nate Ostiller and Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk July 2, 2024 9:44 AM  (Updated: ) 3 min read
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban meets Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on July 2, 2024. (Zakarpattia Oblast Governor Viktor Mykyta/Telegram)
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Editor's note: This is a developing story and is being updated.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrived in Kyiv on July 2 and urged President Volodymyr Zelensky to consider a ceasefire in order to "speed up peace talks."

"I asked the president to think about whether we could reverse the order, and speed up peace talks with making a ceasefire first," Orban said in a statement to reporters after the two leaders met.

"A ceasefire connected to a deadline would give a chance to speed up peace talks. I explored this possibility with the president and I am grateful for his honest answers and negotiation."

While praising Ukraine's peace initiatives, Orban said that they take "too long."

Kyiv previously rejected a temporary break to hostilities, saying it would only provide a window of opportunity for Russia to regroup its forces.

Instead, Ukraine and Switzerland organized a global peace summit in June without Russia's participation to consider possible steps toward peace.

Orban and Zelensky also addressed long-standing issues between the two countries and steps toward improving relations.

Orban's first visit to Ukraine since the start of the full-scale invasion 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.

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

This has led to deteriorating relations between Ukraine and Hungary, which had already been strained before 2022.

Following their bilateral talks, Zelensky and Orban told journalists that their meeting was an important step toward solving long-standing problems between the two countries.

"The content of our talks today can become the basis for a future bilateral agreement between our states, which will regulate our relations," Zelensky said, as reported by European Pravda.

"We want to establish relations between our countries and to sign a cooperation agreement with Ukraine similar to those Hungary has already signed with other neighbors," Orban noted.

Orban: Russia couldn’t ‘swallow’ NATO as it struggles to defeat Ukraine
The Russian military is waging “a serious and difficult war” against Ukraine, and its capabilities are “far exceeded” by NATO, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told public radio on May 24, according to news portal Telex.

The Hungarian prime minister also offered support for modernizing Ukraine and praised progress in resolving the issues of the Hungarian minority in the country

Orban and Zelensky also agreed to open the first school for Ukrainian-speaking children in Hungary.

The previous day, unnamed sources in Budapest told the Guardian that the visit was confirmed after negotiations on the rights of the ethnic Hungarian minority 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.

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