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EU disowns Orbán’s trip to Moscow

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The European Union has disassociated itself from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s visit to Moscow to meet Vladimir Putin. An icy statement issued by the European External Action Service on behalf of High Representative Josep Borrell has spelt out that despite Hungary’s presidency of the Council of the EU, it’s nothing to do with them.

The statement reads in full:

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s visit to Moscow takes place, exclusively, in the framework of the bilateral relations between Hungary and Russia. 

Hungary is now the EU Member State serving the rotating presidency of the Council until 31 December 2024. That does not entail any external representation of the Union which is responsibility of the President of the European Council at the Head of State or Government level and of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy at Ministerial level.

Prime Minister Orbán has not received any mandate from the EU Council to visit Moscow. The EU position on Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine is reflected in many European Council conclusions. That position excludes official contacts between the EU and President Putin. The Hungarian Prime Minister is thus not representing the EU in any form. 

In addition, 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.

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Viktor Orbán has already made a surprise visit to Kyiv, which appeared to do nothing to improve his frosty relations with Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Before he agreed to Mark Rutte’s appointment as the next Secretary General of NATO, he obtained an agreement that Hungary would not contribute to arming Ukraine in its war against the Russian invasion.

The Hungarian Prime Minister has also obstructed and delayed EU aid to Ukraine and even in the presence of the Ukrainian leader, he continued to argue for a ceasefire with Russian troops still occupying Ukrainian territory.

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