EU leaders reject Orbán's visit to Putin

EP Press conference. Briefing before the EU Summit. Press conference by Jozsef SZAJER, EPP Vice-Chair, Viktor ORBAN, Prime Minister of Hungary, Gergely GULYAS, Prime Minister's Office and Bertalan HAVASI

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's recent visit to Russian President Vladimir Putin has raised significant criticism and concerns within the European Union. The meeting was not discussed in advance with the EU, which led to dissatisfaction among the European Commission and other EU leaders. 

Hungary is the rotating chairman of the European Union for this six months, with mainly organizational and ceremonial tasks and functions. Within the EU, the Hungarian Prime Minister has been a troublemaker and disruptor for years. He is one of the few European leaders to be an advocate of Russian President Putin who is being investigated by the ICC International Court in The Hague.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stressed that appeasement policies towards Putin will not work and called for unity and determination to achieve a just and lasting peace in Ukraine.

The European Commission may now consider postponing or reconsidering the visit of EU leaders to Hungary, as a result of Orbán's solo actions. For example, the EU summits might not be held in Budapest for a while. 

Orbán defended his visit by saying that dialogue with Russia is necessary despite the ongoing war in Ukraine. However, this position clashes with the broader EU strategy, which aims to isolate Russia through sanctions and support for Ukraine.

Josep Borrell, the EU foreign chief, criticized Orbán's visit and emphasized that the Hungarian prime minister was not speaking on behalf of the EU. Borrell stressed that such unilateral steps could undermine the unity of the EU and weaken joint efforts to resist Russian aggression.

Orbán's meeting with Putin included talks on energy security and economic cooperation, topics that Orbán says are crucial for Hungary. However, these close ties with Russia are seen as problematic by other EU members, who want to emphasize solidarity with Ukraine and strict compliance with sanctions against Russia.