Orbán: “China Has a Peace Plan, America Has a War Policy”

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán continued his peace mission with a trip to China before moving on to the United States on Monday, July 8th. After visiting Kyiv and Moscow last week, he headed to the capitals of the two global powers, who—in the prime minister’s words—have the ability to influence the outcome of the Russo-Ukrainian war.

Hungary assumed the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union on July 1st, and Orbán is using this role to promote his “peace mission,” an attempt to bring the war in Ukraine to an end. Though the prime minister made it clear that he is not mandated to hold talks on behalf of the other EU member states, he said he would like to find out how far Ukraine and Russia were willing to go—and update fellow EU member states on his findings.

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Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Hungary has been the only EU member state to  call for a ceasefire and peace talks instead of prolonging the war by sending weapons to Ukraine. As we recently reported, Orbán visited both Kyiv and Moscow last week in an attempt to talk to both participants in the war that has now raged for almost two-and-a-half years. He was criticised by EU leaders for talking to Russian President Vladimir Putin, with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stating that “appeasement will not stop Putin.”

However, Balázs Orbán, the prime minister’s political advisor (not related to Viktor Orbán) said in an interview on Sunday that Hungary’s EU presidency provides a good opportunity to open the communication channels between the parties of the war. Unveiling the agenda of the presidency in June, Hungarian EU Affairs Minister János Bóka said “the EU has to guarantee the security and peace of Europe, and every one of our priorities will be interpreted within this framework.”

In a short video uploaded to his X account after his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, the prime minister said:

Of course, the warring parties have the last word in the war, but three world powers have a decisive influence: China, the United States and the European Union. They also influence when this war will end.

In Beijing, Orbán said he had discussed with Xi the Chinese peace plan, saying “China is the only world power that has been clearly committed to peace from the beginning.” China’s and Brazil’s road map states that “dialogue and negotiation are the only viable way out of the crisis.” China did not attend a Western-backed peace summit held in Switzerland last month, saying it is meaningless to hold such a conference without the participation of one of the warring factions, Russia. According to AP reporting, Xi followed his meeting with Orbán by calling on Russia and Ukraine to stop the fighting—and on other major powers to create an environment conducive to talks.

“China has a peace plan. America has a war policy. And Europe, instead of having its own strategic approach, is simply copying the American position,” Viktor Orbán told German daily Die Welt in an interview shortly before his trip to Beijing.

After visiting Beijing, Orbán flew straight to Washington, D.C., where he is set to attend the summit of NATO leaders, which begins on Tuesday. Member states plan to pledge to keep pouring arms and ammunition into Ukraine at current levels for at least another year. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance’s 32 member countries have been spending around €40 billion each year on military equipment for Ukraine since the war began and that this should be “a minimum baseline” going forward.

Before the summit, it was rumoured Orbán would meet former President Donald Trump who has claimed he could end the war within 24 hours of moving back into the White House. Orbán openly supports Trump’s presidential candidacy, and has stated that the former president would bring back peace to Ukraine. “Prime Minister Orbán, like my father, wants to see PEACE brought back to the world. Enough of the constant wars and the endless sums of money to fund them. …  Peace must be the ultimate goal,” Donald Trump Jr.—Trump’s son, who recently visited Budapest—posted on X.

Hungarian analyst Gábor Török called Orbán’s “peace mission” an international success story, adding that the prime minister is able to take advantage of the fact that Hungary is holding the EU Presidency. “The calculated and precisely delivered attacks really only strengthen him now … meanwhile, a strong faction is being created [in the European Parliament] that the international press clearly associates with the name of the Hungarian Prime Minister,” Gábor Török writes.

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