Orbán visits Kyiv for first time in decade: exploring motives

July 3,2024 306
Orbán visits Kyiv for first time in decade: exploring motives

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán used his first visit to Kyiv in 10 years on July 2 to portray himself as a peacemaker following Hungary’s assumption of the rotating presidency of the European Union Council, writes the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

Orbán met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to request consideration for a temporary ceasefire and to expedite peace negotiations, analysts say. “ISW continues to assess that a ceasefire in Ukraine on the current lines is unlikely to deter further Russian aggression and only allow Russia critical time to rebuild its forces and prepare for future aggression against Ukraine,” the report states.

Ukrainian media outlet notes that the Hungarian Prime Minister’s visit may only temporarily alter Orbán’s stance towards Ukraine and Russia during Hungary’s EU Council presidency, which Budapest assumed on July 1 for the next six months.

“Orbán needs the visit to bring Hungary out of isolation within the EU,” says analyst from the Political Capital Institute (Budapest) Lóránt Győri. “The real attitude of the Hungarian Prime Minister towards Ukraine has not changed,” argues Hungarian sociologist Professor István Gégédi. “However, relations between Kyiv and Budapest are so poor that even minimal concessions from both sides will be beneficial,” the material states.

Orbán wants to show that he can make decisions at the EU level, believes Hungarian sociologist István Hegedűs. “Perhaps during the presidency, Budapest will even become more flexible – adopting EU decisions in support of Ukraine. It will shift its policy, saying that during this special period, it is an honest mediator at the EU level,” the material states.

However, Orbán’s grand and long-term plans have not changed, analysts emphasize. “This is a short-term perspective. He wants to change Europe, unite within the EU populist and illiberal parties critical of mainstream politics. He does not want to support Ukraine with weapons or money,” Hegedűs emphasizes.

Cover: the President’s Office

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