Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

EU leaders are concerned about rumors of a possible Orban visit to Moscow

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Jul5,2024

EU leaders are concerned about rumors about Orban's possible visit to Moscow

Photo: Vladimir Putin and Victor Orban /Grigory SYSOYEV/POOL/AFP

On Thursday, July 4, European leaders expressed concern over rumors that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who holds the EU presidency, is planning to travel to Moscow, and Council President Charles Michel said that Orbán “does not have a mandate” for this, reports Agence France-Presse.

Orbán – the only EU leader to maintain ties with the Kremlin since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

On Monday, July 1, Hungary became the EU's rotating presidency, giving it the power to set the bloc's agenda and priorities for the next six months.

"The rotating chairman of the EU does not have a mandate to interact with Russia on behalf of the EU, – wrote Michelle in X. – TheEuropean Council clearly defined: Russia – aggressor, Ukraine – victim. No discussion about Ukraine can take place without Ukraine.”

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk also wrote in X: "Rumors about your visit to Moscow cannot be true @ PM_ViktorOrban, or can they?".

According to investigative portal Vsquare and Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe (RFE/RL), which cite anonymous sources, Orban is expected to meet with Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Friday, July 5, just days after his trip to Kyiv.< br />
If the visit to Moscow is confirmed, it will be the first visit by a European leader since Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer in April 2022.

Asked by AFP about Orban's upcoming visit to Russia earlier on Thursday, the Hungarian government declined to comment. But on Monday, Orban announced “amazing news from amazing places.”

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

On Tuesday, July 2, the Hungarian leader met with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky in Kyiv.

During the visit, Orban called on Ukraine to seek a “time-limited” ceasefire with Russia to speed up peace negotiations.

Zelensky, in turn, called on Orban to support Kyiv’s steps to achieve peace together with international partners.

Orban has repeatedly sought a relaxation of EU sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Orban, in power since 2010, regularly criticizes European financial and military support for Kiev and for weeks temporarily blocked a 50 billion euro ($53 billion) aid package.

He also openly opposes negotiations on EU membership with Kiev, as well as Brussels’ sanctions against Moscow – although Budapest did not use its veto power to block the moves.

Earlier this year, Orban congratulated Putin for winning re-election in a vote condemned by the West and praised him for maintaining dialogue and “mutual respect” between Hungary and Russia “even in difficult geopolitical conditions.”

Prepared by: Sergey Daga

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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