Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (l) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky - Photo: PMO

Orbán asks Zelensky to consider ceasefire tied to deadline

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, visiting Kyiv on Tuesday, asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to consider a ceasefire tied to a deadline.

At a press conference held jointly with the Ukrainian president, Orbán thanked his host for the invitation, noting that they had agreed to today’s talks at their meeting in Brussels last Thursday.

Orbán said it was his first foreign trip after Hungary’s taking over the European Union’s presidency on Monday, adding: “Peace is important not only for Ukraine but for the whole of Europe.”

Orbán said he appreciated Zelensky’s initiatives aimed at creating peace, but added that those initiatives would take a long time to come to fruition.

“The ways of international diplomacy are slow and complicated … I put it to the president that we should consider whether the order may be reversed by speeding up peace talks with a quick ceasefire,” Orbán said. “A ceasefire tied to a deadline, which could offer the opportunity to accelerate peace talks; I have assessed the options for that scenario,” he added.

Orbán said he had cleared those issues up with the Ukrainian president, adding he was grateful for the honest talks and answers. He said he would prepare a report for the European Council “that could be a baseline for the necessary European decisions”.

He wished success to Ukraine and said Hungary was “at Ukraine’s disposal” during its EU presidency, and would help wherever it could.

Orbán said he had come to Kyiv to achieve progress in bilateral ties. He called the talks constructive, adding a meeting had been long overdue in view of the many issues needing resolution, “over which we have negotiated and debated a lot in the past years”.

“We are trying to put the debates of the past behind us and concentrate on the period ahead of us,” he said.

Orbán said he wished that ties between Hungary and Ukraine were much better, adding that Hungary wanted to sign a comprehensive cooperation agreement with Ukraine, similarly to many of its other neighbours.

Hungary is also willing to take part in the modernisation of the Ukrainian economy, Orbán said, adding that the process required a regulated framework.

Regarding the situation of the ethnic Hungarian minority in Ukraine, Orbán said he saw a chance for progress.

He welcomed Zelensky’s proposal to set up a Ukrainian school in Hungary. Hungary will fund the schools, “and set up as many as necessary. If there’s need for one, then one, and if there’s need for ten, then ten”, he said.

Ukrainians have always been present in Hungary, which also has a Ukrainian minority self-government, he said. At the same time, there are many more now with the influx of refugees, he added. Those families need care, work, a livelihood and security, and the children need adequate schools and good teachers, he said, adding it was important that Ukrainians in Hungary felt at home there.

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