Orbán calls for ceasefire during Kyiv visit

Hungarian Prime Minister and current EU Council President Viktor Orbán visited Ukraine for the first time in more than a decade this week. In a meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky he proposed a quick ceasefire as a basis for peace negotiations, urging the Ukrainian leader to rethink his demand that Russian troops withdraw before talks can begin. Commentators see this as a calculated move.

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Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Ahead of his time

The Hungarian prime minister's approach has prevailed often enough in the past, notes Tages-Anzeiger:

“As an experienced demagogue, Orbán senses the mood in society. He also has a pretty good sense of when a certain political course will meet with resistance from the population. ... The political consensus in Europe has clearly moved in his direction because pressure from voters has forced it to. Orbán's slogans wouldn't be so successful if there wasn't a sense of unease among many people that can be exploited. ... So we shouldn't be surprised: what Viktor Orbán says and demands today, which is indignantly rejected by everyone else, is often enough exactly what the Europeans will do tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.”

Magyar Narancs (HU) /

Deliberate reversal of cause and effect

Orbán knows very well that the outcome of the war is still unclear, Magyar Narancs explains:

“Because whether Ukraine can stand up to Russia, whether it can reclaim its lost territories or, even without them, guarantee the security and prosperity of its citizens, depends not on Ukraine's capacities but on how much help it receives. ... Whether it will receive enough help, however, has not yet been decided. And this is precisely the most important question of the war, and Orbán is doing all he can to influence the answer. It is not wise foresight that has led him to predict the inevitable defeat of Ukraine, but the opposite: he has sought out a prophecy that justifies his own policy.”

NV (UA) /

Hungarian PM playing useful idiot for Russia again

NV explains how the Kremlin could exploit Orbán's proposal:

“Putin and his people will spread a wave of narratives according to which Russia not only offered 'peace' to Ukraine, but also the 'EU leaders'. Behind this definition, of course, will be the voluminous figure of Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán. The purpose of these offers - to end the resistance against the bandits, murderers and rapists [Russia] - will remain secondary for many. ... It seems that Viktor Orbán has once again fulfilled his function as Europe's Trojan horse and helped the Kremlin in its special information operation against Ukraine.”

hvg (HU) /

He's representing himself, not the EU

Hungary's PM wants to break the political deadlock, hvg writes:

“Although Hungary's EU Council presidency was the reason for his visit, Orbán was not acting on behalf of the EU 27 but rather in his own interest. Despite the strengthening of the right-wing parties in the EU elections, Giorgia Meloni did not allow Fidesz to join the ECR. One of the reasons for this was certainly her relationship with Russia. ... And it's no longer only in Rome that Fidesz's line in foreign policy is seen as a risk; Marine Le Pen's RN, which won a triumphant victory in the first round of snap election in France on Sunday, also reportedly expects Orbán to change course.”

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

Yet another failed mission

For Radio Kommersant FM, Orbán's efforts are the latest in a series of failed peace initiatives:

“There has been no shortage of peace plans recently. They're all vigorously discussed but in the end nothing moves, they come to nothing more than talk and buzzwords. ... Zelensky has promised to put together a new plan by autumn and hold another summit, but compromises with Russia are not on the agenda. ... And the Kremlin's peace proposals are more like an ultimatum. Zelensky and the West rejected them immediately, and even Donald Trump has agreed that they're not feasible. It looks very much like Viktor Orbán's mission has failed. The military scenario remains the only possible scenario, at least until autumn.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Call for peace lacks substance

La Repubblica criticises Orbán's conduct:

“During the talks he emphasised the need to start negotiations quickly. It's just a pity that the government in Budapest has made no secret of its closeness to the Kremlin since the beginning of the Russian aggression and has systematically boycotted all EU measures against Moscow. Moreover, Orbán has organised this mission at the same time as he is building a new, clearly pro-Russian group in the European Parliament. The Ukrainian leader's response that a just peace is needed left no doubt that Orbán's proposal is flimsy, to say the least.”

Telegraf (UA) /

Don't rule out Hungary as mediator

Orbán's unique position in the European constellation makes him interesting as a potential mediator despite his shortcomings, Telegraf believes:

“Orbán did not come with secret messages from Putin, Trump or anyone else. He wants to negotiate a place for himself as one of the mediators in future negotiations. Such a position is crucial for him for two reasons. Firstly, he has serious internal problems with the opposition. ... And secondly, he has problems with the EU. The position of mediator would help him to solve both. ... Not involving such a unique country in negotiations would be a big mistake. It's definitely worth a try. ... And it's important that Ukraine doesn't sell itself short.”

hvg (HU) /

Change of stance unlikely

On the hvg podcast Fülke, hvg journalist András Németh says that despite the visit he does not expect Viktor Orbán to pursue a pro-Ukrainian policy:

“He has stood by the Russian viewpoint to such an extent that it would be very difficult for him to extricate himself from it. ... If you look at those who are joining forces in his new parliamentary group - Andrej Babiš from the Czech Republic, Herbert Kickl from Austria - you see politicians who are not at all pro-Ukrainian. ... I would be very surprised if Viktor Orbán were to radically change his policy towards Ukraine.”

Magyar Nemzet (HU) /

Kyiv can't sidestep Budapest

For the pro-government paper Magyar Nemzet it's not Orbán's stance that has changed, but Ukraine's:

“Hungary makes no secret of the fact that it does not consider the sanctions against Moscow to be effective. It continues to block both arms deliveries to Ukraine and the deployment of soldiers. ... It is not Hungary's stance that has changed, but perhaps Kyiv's. We expect quite a lot from Ukraine, whose EU accession conditions - as a Hungarian diplomatic success - include a guarantee of the protection of national minorities. Our country will closely monitor its compliance. ... But in the long term Kyiv expects far more from Europe. However, it must realise that we are and will remain part of it.”

Aktuálně.cz (CZ) /

Talking is better than nothing

Aktuálně.cz gives the Ukrainians a piece of advice:

“You should talk to Orbán and tell him: Okay, you don't understand that Ukraine has the right to defend itself and that this is important to us. But at least don't get in the way and don't prevent others from helping the Ukrainians. Just as Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk did at the meeting of the four Visegrád prime ministers in Prague. According to a source from Orbán's delegation, Tusk and Orbán yelled so much at each other over Ukraine that you could hear it through several doors. But that's better than not speaking to the Hungarian prime minister at all.”

La Libre Belgique (BE) /

Europe's Trump

La Libre Belgique comments on the Hungarian prime minister's public appearance:

“One look at the video published on X on Monday is enough to gauge the image Orbán wants to project: wearing sunglasses and with his hair blowing in the wind, he shows himself boarding a military plane to the sound of rock music. ... 'It's time to make Europe great again', he quips, quoting the slogan of the Hungarian presidency, based on Donald Trump's 'Make America Great Again'. So let's not kid ourselves: Viktor Orbán is taking inspiration from a man who intends to drop Kyiv and the whole of Europe if he becomes president of the United States again. The ruler of Budapest wants the Republican to make a comeback.”