Orbán: I know the Russians. They are different from us

July 09. 2024. – 01:24 PM



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It's been a busy week for Viktor Orbán: first he visited Kyiv, then Moscow, from where he travelled to Beijing and then Washington. In spite of his busy itinerary, which he described as a "peace mission", the Hungarian PM also had time for an interview with the German newspaper Bild. In it, Orbán spoke about the Russian-Ukrainian conflict being resolved at the negotiating table instead of at the front, about Europe's policy of war, and about the fact that he alone truly knows the Russians.

"In the coming months, things will get worse on the front," he told the newspaper, explaining why he had chosen to visit the parties involved in the conflict at this particular time. "There are more weapons and the Russians are more determined. The intensity of the clashes and the death toll will therefore be more brutal than in the past seven months". It is for this reason that he believes that the time for moving "from the politics of war to the politics of peace" is now.

Orbán stressed that his goal is peace and a ceasefire, so he is only acting as a mediator, without arguing about "who is right and who is wrong".

According to the Hungarian Prime Minister, "there is no solution to this conflict at the front", because although both Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky have a clear vision of how they can win, he finds it hard to imagine that Russia would lose this war, as it has much greater resources in terms of both manpower, equipment and military technology. "Defeating Russia is a thought that is hard to imagine," he said.

So his message to Moscow and Kyiv is as follows: ''Folks, we, the world, want peace, stop killing each other! Let's start negotiating! Or at least understand that there is no solution at the front!"

"Even if the two leaders are both opposed to a quick ceasefire, basically everyone knows that it would be better if no Russians or Ukrainians died tomorrow morning," Orbán said, adding that Putin also wants to "stop the bloodshed".

When the Bild journalist suggested that the reason why the Ukrainian soldiers do not want to come to the negotiating table despite the bloody fighting is perhaps because they fear that the negotiations would mean the Russians getting even closer to them, "to their houses, their wives, their mothers", Orbán replied. "If I understand correctly, then you, a German, are trying to explain to me what it means to live close to the Russians? Don't forget that we are sitting in Budapest. Nobody can educate the Hungarians about Russia."

"Very few people in the world know more about Russia than the Hungarians and especially their prime minister. I know the Russians. They are different from us. Their history is different, their culture is different, their instincts and attitudes are different. They have a different understanding of freedom and of national sovereignty," he said.

Orbán is now putting his faith in Donald Trump, who he says is also "a man of peace". The Hungarian prime minister believes that it would be good for world politics if Trump were to return to the White House, and he is therefore very hopeful that he will win.

Although Orbán only expressed moderate criticism of Russia in the interview, he was not so gentle with Europe. "I'm sorry to say this, but Europe is also pursuing its own policy of war". He said that the EU should pull away from the United States and pursue an independent policy, because the main victims of the two warring parties are "the European economy and the European population".

At the end of the interview, Orbán concluded by saying that no matter who is criticising him and how harshly, he will continue on the same path.

The German transcript of the interview can be found here and the full interview may be viewed in English here:

The Hungarian government took over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union on 1 July. A few days later, Viktor Orbán visited Ukraine, followed by Russia and China, posting several pictures from his trips on his social media with the logo of the Hungarian EU Presidency. At the press conference held immediately after their meeting in Moscow, Vladimir Putin said that he believed Orbán was there on behalf of the EU presidency, a claim the Hungarian prime minister did not refute.

Then EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell stressed that the leader of the Council Presidency had no foreign affairs mandate and therefore Orbán could not have represented the EU in Moscow. According to press reports, at the request of several member states, the permanent representatives of the EU member states will discuss the blurring of the Hungarian "peace mission" and the presidency at their meeting on Wednesday.

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