Viktor Orbán on a "peace mission" in Beijing

After trips to Ukraine and Russia, Hungarian Prime Minister and current EU Council President Viktor Orbán has also visited China. During the tour, which he refers to as "Peace Mission 3.0", Orbán met with Chinese head of state Xi Jinping. Xi spoke out in favour of a ceasefire in Ukraine and subsequent negotiations. Commentators discuss appropriate responses to Orbán's conduct.

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Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Constructive policy the only antidote

The problem goes beyond Orbán, Gazeta Wyborcza explains:

“Orbán's greatest influence on the EU is not through the institutions (the EU Council presidency), not even through his policy of blackmail. It is the result of his anti-EU vision and rhetoric, which has struck a chord and drawn support from nationalists across Europe. The real antidote is not (just) punishment and outrage, but a policy that reconciles respect for European values with addressing citizens' concerns about migration, the consequences of climate policy and the prospects of the war in Ukraine. The success in the confrontation with Orbán and other populists will be measured not by the Hungarian presidency, but by the ability to rise to this challenge.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

This man must be stopped

Hungary's EU Council presidency should be severely restricted, Dagens Nyheter demands:

“Under the guise of 'dialogue', Orbán is trying to create the impression that Europe is interested in peace negotiations with Russia and that the EU is divided over the Ukraine issue. ... The fact that Viktor Orbán is setting the agenda during his six-month term as president of the Council of Ministers - and can thus postpone the discussions on Ukraine - is bad enough. His visits to despots are unacceptable. It is time to look into the possibility of stopping the Hungarian Council Presidency, which is still in its early stages, or at least significantly limiting its room for manoeuvre.”

Spotmedia (RO) /

Don't let Hungary's PM play the victim

Spotmedia warns:

“There's also the tough option: releasing Hungary from the EU Council presidency prematurely. But this is a two-edged sword, because if Viktor Orbán can't cast himself as the EU's representative on the Kremlin's doorstep he will construct a narrative about having fallen victim to double standards. And this narrative could be even more costly for the EU.”

Ouest-France (FR) /

Time to limit the damage

Orbán's insignificance must be made clear to all, demands Cyrille Bret, political analyst at the Jacques Delors Institute, in Ouest-France:

“Over a period of several weeks, Viktor Orbán will change the image of Europe and its positions on the international stage. If he is allowed to do so. ... We must all remember that the Hungarian prime minister is not the president of Europe in the same way that Joe Biden is president of the United States; that he has neither the mandate nor the power to put an end to the war in Ukraine; that he has no authority to integrate the EU into Eurasia; and that his political movement is very much in the minority throughout Europe. The 'Orbán moment' must remain no more than a political optical illusion and an institutional adverse circumstance.”

Polityka (PL) /

A pathological lone wolf

The Hungarian prime minister's trips are focused solely on self-promotion, says Polityka:

“Orbán's anti-Western pilgrimage is accompanied by another massive attack on Ukraine. On Monday, when he landed in Beijing, the Russians shelled Kryvyi Rih, the hometown of Volodymyr Zelensky. They bombed Okhmatdyt, a well-known children's hospital in Kyiv where, for example, the youngest cancer patients are treated. Pictures of the destroyed hospital wards are going around the world. ... There is no doubt that Viktor Orbán doesn't care in the slightest. A pathological lone wolf, he only pursues his own interests. We must openly question how much longer the West will tolerate this.” (RO) /

Orbán overestimates his role

For Orbán is a clear case of someone with a distorted self-image:

“The Hungarian PM overestimates his position and power at the international level. His desire to act as a link between East and West, between the US, China and Russia, has no basis in reality. He is not and cannot be a balanced player. As a representative of the EU and Nato, and in view of the foreign policy he himself has pursued since taking office in 2010, he cannot be a link between East and West. With his latest foreign policy manoeuvres, Hungary's prime minister has jeopardised the rotating EU Council presidency that his country currently holds and exacerbated Budapest's international isolation.”

Seznam Zprávy (CZ) /

A damaging PR campaign

Seznam Zprávy takes Orbán to task:

“His escapades with the world's leading dictators have had no effect and will have none. They won't help Ukraine or Europe as a whole, and they won't even bring them any closer to Russia's chosen form of peace. Orbán simply has no formal or informal influence over this, either in Brussels, Kyiv or Moscow. ... What remains is the lasting bitter aftertaste of seeing the unity of the European Union being unnecessarily shaken by a PR campaign in which Orbán abused his presidency of the EU Council. This plays into the hands of dictators who want to destroy a strong Europe.”

Die Welt (DE) /

He deserves a chance

Welt defends the Hungarian prime minister:

“You can condemn Orbán for not seeking Brussels' consent or for being on an ego trip. But his solo act is not so misguided. The Hungarian deserves a chance. Together with Turkish President Erdoğan he is the only European and Nato leader who maintains good contacts with China and Russia. Of course there is a risk that the ceasefire he is promoting will ultimately lead to a negotiated outcome that rewards the Russian dictator Putin with territorial gains and the amputation of Ukraine. But those who accuse him for this - like Washington, Berlin and Brussels - should do more to resolve the situation themselves.”

Törökgáborelemez (HU) /

No running the gauntlet

The last few days have been a success story for Viktor Orbán, writes political scientist Gábor Török in his blog on Facebook:

“I have never thought it wise to let our political tastes and hopes guide our analyses. ... Far from running the gauntlet, what we are seeing now is Viktor Orbán's first truly spectacular international success story. He has used the attention and clout that the rotating EU Council presidency offers to tell the whole world in three lightning meetings what matters to him politically. The calculated and prompt attacks are only strengthening him, while his European rivals clearly have no idea how to handle Orbán.”