NewsHungarian pm orban to visit Kyiv amid EU and bilateral tensions

Hungarian pm orban to visit Kyiv amid EU and bilateral tensions

Orban to meet with Zelensky? Surprising reports
Orban to meet with Zelensky? Surprising reports
Images source: © PAP | ANGELO CARCONI
Radosław Opas

2 July 2024 17:41

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is set to travel to Kyiv on Tuesday to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, reports "The Guardian", citing sources close to the Hungarian government head. This will be Orban's first visit to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion.

The "Ukrainian Truth" portal wrote on Friday that Viktor Orban may soon meet with Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine under pressure from the European Union. Since the onset of Russian aggression, neither Orban nor Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has visited Kyiv.

Both, however, have met with critical Russian politicians: Szijjarto with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Orban with Vladimir Putin. According to three sources aware of the Hungarian Prime Minister's plans, Orban is expected to travel to Kyiv on Tuesday for an unexpected visit, writes "The Guardian".

Zelensky's adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, declined to comment on Orban's possible visit to Ukraine. However, another source in Kyiv confirmed that the visit will take place. "Orban will be here tomorrow unless there is a last-minute change," the source stated.

Tensions between Hungary and Ukraine

Currently, there are no guarantees that a meeting between Orban and Zelensky will lead to a breakthrough in the difficult bilateral relations. Ihor Havrylyuk, an expert from the Kazimierz Pulaski Foundation, pointed out in a conversation with PAP that the Hungarian Prime Minister will try to secure as many concessions as possible from Ukraine.

A longstanding issue in bilateral relations has been the approximately 49,580 Hungarian minority in Ukraine's Zakarpattia region. Budapest is demanding that Ukrainian authorities restore regulations to before 2017, i.e., before the implementation of the education law, which the Orban government believes negatively impacts the Hungarian minority. Furthermore, in 2012, the Hungarian language lost its status as a regional language in Zakarpattia.

As Havrylyuk emphasised, the Hungarian government handed Kyiv a list of 11 demands that must be met to secure Hungary's support for EU accession talks with Ukraine. Orban's government has not officially blocked these negotiations but openly opposed Ukraine's rapid admission into the Community, reserving the right to block the entire process at any stage.

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