Hungarian President had a "meaningful, private conversation" with Zelensky

August 23. 2023. – 10:23 PM


Hungarian President had a "meaningful, private conversation" with Zelensky
Photo: István Huszti / Telex


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Katalin Novák had a private meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky, the President's Chief of Staff told us. The Hungarian President was not available after the meeting, but Tamás Schanda found a way to briefly answer a few questions for Telex. There was an air raid during the Crimea Platform conference in Kyiv, and although for a while, the Hungarian President and several other attendees went down to the shelter of the hotel where the conference was held, it did not interrupt the event.

The President mentioned important topics in her speech. She stated that Ukraine was fighting for its rights, and said that the country's territorial integrity was beyond dispute. Does this mean that it's conceivable for Hungary to possibly support the Ukrainian forces in their struggle against the occupying Russian forces with arms?

I think the President's speech was clear, as was all that she had said earlier. The Hungarian position is clear and unequivocal.

On the contrary, the Hungarian position is not clear. One only has to think of the sanctions against Russia, which – even if it does vote for them in the end – Hungary loudly criticizes.

It’s worth listening to the President's speech from today, as it reflects a very clear and unambiguous position.

That's precisely why it would not seem to contradict the speech if Hungary were to help Ukraine with arms supplies from here on, or at least allow supplies sent by other countries to pass through its territory.

I don't believe the President made any such statement.

The President also said that she empathizes with Ukraine's suffering both as a head of state and as a mother, and called Ukraine's struggle a legitimate one. If this struggle is coupled with understanding, it wouldn't seem to be against Hungary's interests as a neighbour of Ukraine if the Ukrainian army's defence capabilities against the occupying Russian forces were to be strengthened.

There was no mention in the speech of any arms shipments or even of allowing any arms shipments to pass through Hungary. The Hungarian position is clear and unequivocal, and the President's position is clear and unequivocal.

Did it not seem to you that the President was somewhat alone at the forum? After all, of all the countries represented, Hungary was the only one where the prime minister had referred to Volodymyr Zelensky as an opponent to be defeated, and who, according to Viktor Orbán, had joined forces with the Hungarian opposition. Did you have the feeling that Katalin Novák had to grapple with the distrust caused by such statements by the head of government?

I experienced very sincere conversations with Ukrainian officials ever since our arrival in Transcarpathia. There were very cordial conversations, in which they thanked the Hungarian state for its help and thanked the President for coming. The meeting with President Zelensky has just finished. It was a one-to-one meeting, which lasted much longer than planned, and it was a meaningful conversation, but I don't know the details of it. They also met the last time the President was in Kyiv, in November, but this time they spoke in private.

Has this meeting contributed to the possibility of a meeting between Zelensky and Viktor Orbán in the foreseeable future?

I am the Chief of Staff to the President, not to the Prime Minister.


President Novák later posted about the content of her meeting with the Ukrainian President on her Facebook page:

"We have agreed on the following:

  • as befits neighbours, we will set up a direct presidential communication channel,
  • we will start preparing a new document on the relations between the two countries,
  • we will join the discussions on the peace formula initiated by the President of Ukraine,
  • we will work together on the case of children affected by the war as a priority,
  • we will achieve progress on the minority rights of the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia as soon as possible."

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