Hungary’s Orbán makes surprise Beijing visit as Ukraine ‘peace mission’ continues — Novaya Gazeta Europe
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Hungary’s Orbán makes surprise Beijing visit as Ukraine ‘peace mission’ continues

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands before a meeting in Beijing, China, 08 July 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE/VIVIEN CHER BENKO / HUNGARIAN PM PRESS OFFICE HANDOUT

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands before a meeting in Beijing, China, 08 July 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE/VIVIEN CHER BENKO / HUNGARIAN PM PRESS OFFICE HANDOUT

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Monday in his self-proclaimed capacity as an intermediary charged with ending the war in Ukraine, China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Hua Chunying announced.

Writing on X, Hua said Xi had told Orbán that an “early ceasefire and political settlement of the crisis is in the interest of all” and praised the Hungarian leader for his “efforts to seek a political solution” to the conflict.

Xi also called on the international community to “provide conditions and support for the resumption of direct dialogue and negotiation” between Russia and Ukraine, Hua said, adding that China had been “actively promoting peace talks in its own way”.

Chinese media outlet The Paper cited a diplomatic source calling Orbán’s visit a “sudden” one, with neither the Chinese nor the Hungarian governments announcing the trip in advance.

Orbán himself announced his arrival in Beijing on Monday morning on X, calling his visit “peace mission 3.0” and hailing China as a “key power in creating the conditions for peace in the Russia-Ukraine war”.

Explaining his decision to meet with Xi, Orbán wrote on Facebook that in addition to the warring parties “the decision of three world powers — the United States, the European Union and China — will determine when the Russian-Ukrainian war will end.”

The Hungarian leader’s visit to China is the third surprise diplomatic mission he has taken since Hungary assumed the EU’s rotating presidency last Monday. During one-day visits to Kyiv and Moscow for talks on ending the war last week, Orbán drew criticism for asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to consider a ceasefire with Russia before saying that Hungary would soon “become the only country in Europe to negotiate both with Russia and Ukraine” during his meeting with Vladimir Putin in the Russian capital.

Orbán’s visit to Moscow was widely condemned by EU officials, with EU Council President Charles Michel stressing that the rotating presidency had “no mandate to engage with Russia on behalf of the EU” and that “no discussions about Ukraine can take place without Ukraine”.

From Beijing, Orbán is expected to travel to Washington for a NATO summit, where the organisation’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told journalists on Friday he expected Orbán’s visit to Moscow to be discussed and addressed.

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