Hungarian PM Orban's meeting with Putin is completely unacceptable - Silina

  • 2024-07-06
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's meeting with Vladimir Putin is completely unacceptable while Russia is fighting in Ukraine and killing innocent people, Prime Minister Evika Silina (New Unity) said on Twitter.

She stresses that this undermines efforts to achieve a Ukrainian victory and a just peace. She also points out that the Hungarian Prime Minister does not represent the European Union (EU) and has no authority to do so.

The AFP news agency reports that Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Friday met Russian President Vladimir Putin for talks on the fighting in Ukraine, on a trip the EU said threatened to undermine the bloc's stance on the conflict.

Putin hosted Orban -- the friendliest leader in the EU to Moscow -- at the Kremlin and at the start of their televised talks said he expected the Hungarian to speak for Europe as the holder of the EU's rotating presidency.

"I understand that this time you have come not just as our long-standing partner but as president of the council," Putin told Orban, adding that he expected him to outline "the position of European partners" on Ukraine.

Putin said that he wanted to "discuss the nuances that have developed" over the conflict in Ukraine with Orban, who visited Kyiv earlier this week.

European Union leaders piled on Orban, for paying a visit to a leader wanted for war crimes, as word of the trip spread.

His country this week took over the bloc's rotating presidency.

"Appeasement will not stop Putin," European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen wrote on X.

"Only unity and determination will pave the path to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine."

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement that Orban's "visit to Moscow takes place, exclusively, in the framework of the bilateral relations between Hungary and Russia".

"Prime Minister Orban has not received any mandate from the EU Council to visit Moscow," he added.

The 27-nation EU has firmly opposed Russia's military offensive in Ukraine, imposing 14 rounds of unprecedented sanctions on Moscow.

"That position excludes official contacts between the EU and President Putin. The Hungarian Prime Minister is thus not representing the EU in any form," Borrell said.

"It is worth recalling that President Putin has been indicted by the International Criminal Court and an arrest warrant released for his role in relation to the forced deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia."

EU Council chief Charles Michel had earlier reiterated the common stance that "no discussions about Ukraine can take place without Ukraine".

Hungary's six-month EU presidency gives the central European country sway over the bloc's agenda and priorities for the next six months.

Orban's visit to Moscow comes days after the right-wing nationalist made a surprise trip to Kyiv, where he urged Ukraine's leadership to work towards a rapid ceasefire with Russia.

The Hungarian leader on Friday insisted that peace cannot be achieved without dialogue.

"If we just sit in Brussels, we won't be able to get any closer to peace. Action must be taken," Orban said during his regular interview on Hungarian state radio, when asked about his visit to Ukraine on Tuesday.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk expressed disbelief at Orban's Moscow trip, while Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo called it "disturbing news".

The visit is the first to Moscow by a European leader since a visit by Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer in April 2022.

Orban and Putin last met in October 2023 in Beijing, where they discussed energy cooperation.