NewsHungary eyes cooperation deal with Ukraine, pledges economic support

Hungary eyes cooperation deal with Ukraine, pledges economic support

Orban in Kyiv. "I suggested a strategy to the president"
Orban in Kyiv. "I suggested a strategy to the president"
Images source: © PAP | SERGEY DOLZHENKO
Sara Bounaoui

2 July 2024 23:02

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced on Tuesday in Kyiv that Hungary aims to sign a comprehensive cooperation agreement with Ukraine and believes that a ceasefire by Ukraine in the conflict with Russia could expedite peace negotiations. He did not rule out his country's involvement in the "modernisation" of Ukraine's economy.

During a press conference following discussions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Orban expressed his belief that the pace of peace talks could significantly accelerate if frontline fighting was halted.

"I expressed my belief that President Zelensky's peace initiatives might take a long time due to the complex rules of international diplomacy. Therefore, I suggested to the president that he consider an alternative strategy: a ceasefire, followed by negotiations with Russia. I believe such a step could significantly speed up the talks," said Orban, quoted by the portal European Truth.

The Hungarian prime minister desired to enhance relations between the two countries. "We want to build strong relations between our countries, and we want to sign a comprehensive cooperation agreement with Ukraine, similar to agreements we have with other neighbouring countries," said Orban.

The Hungarian prime minister also declared that his country is ready to support the modernisation of the Ukrainian economy and intends to help Ukraine during its presidency of the EU Council. "I wish Ukraine all the best, and I assure you that during our presidency, we will do everything in our power to support you," emphasised Orban.

Zelensky announces the creation of a special document

President Zelensky, in turn, expressed the belief that dialogue with Orban could become the basis for a future document regulating relations between Kyiv and Budapest.

"I believe that the content of our talks on various topics could become the basis for a future bilateral document between our countries. This document will regulate all aspects of our relations and allow our nations to enjoy all the benefits of unity in Europe," said Zelensky.

The Ukrainian president informed that he discussed many issues with Orban, including trade, cross-border cooperation, infrastructure, and energy. Zelensky emphasised that they discussed everything that concerns the lives of citizens in both countries, both Ukraine and Hungary.

They even touched on the issue of opening a Ukrainian school in Hungary, which would be the first such instance. Zelensky added that the Hungarian prime minister assured him of his support for this project.

The head of the Hungarian government assumed the presidency of the EU Council from Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo at 13:00 GMT on Monday in Brussels. The Hungarian presidency will last until Poland takes over at the end of the year.

The Hungarian presidency's priorities include supporting the European defence industry and joint public procurement in defence, developing external partnerships to counteract illegal immigration, and a strategic debate on the future of cohesion policy.

Problems in Ukrainian-Hungarian relations

Hungary has long been criticised for its close ties with Russia and for blocking Western aid to Ukraine. Additionally, Orban's government maintains close political and economic relations with China, which is viewed as the only true ally of the Middle Kingdom in the entire EU.

One issue in Hungary's relations with Ukraine is the approximately 100,000-strong Hungarian minority in Ukraine's Zakarpattia region.

Budapest demands that Kyiv restore the provisions before 2017, before the enactment of the educational law, which, according to Orban's government, negatively impacts the Hungarian minority. In 2012, the Hungarian language also lost its status as a regional language in Zakarpattia.

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