Hungary’s Orbán Defends Peace Mission In China (Worthy News In-depth)

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News

BEIJING/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Hungary’s prime minister defended his controversial trip to communist-run China to talk about peace in Ukraine, where officials said scores of people were killed and injured Monday in Russian attacks on a children’s hospital and other sites.

Viktor Orbán said China’s President Xi Jinping “made it clear to me today that China will continue its efforts aimed at creating the conditions for peace.”

Hungary assumed the rotating EU presidency on July 1, and Orbán said he wanted to use that time to reach a peace deal for Ukraine.

“China was the third stop of the peace mission,” explained Orbán, referring to his previous stops in Moscow and Kyiv in recent days.

“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,” he added in comments on social media platform X that were accompanied by Chinese music.

“They also influence when this war will end. After my meeting with the warring parties [the presidents of Ukraine and Russia], that is why I came here to Beijing,” he said in the remarks monitored by Worthy News.

“We discussed the Chinese peace plan with President Xi. China is the only world power that has been clearly committed to peace from the beginning,” he said.

PEACE EFFORTS

“This is important for Hungary and for the entire European Union. President Xi has made it clear today that he will continue his efforts aimed at creating peace. We are not alone. We will continue our work.”

Yet, apparently feeling sidelined, several key leaders of the European Union have condemned what Orbán called “Peace Mission 3.0.”

The European Union’s European Council President, Charles Michel, said that the “EU rotating presidency has no mandate to engage with Russia [or China] on behalf of the EU. The European Council is clear: Russia is the aggressor, Ukraine is the victim. No discussions about Ukraine can take place without Ukraine.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, “Appeasement will not stop Putin. Only unity and determination will pave the path to a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in Ukraine.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stressed that the “European Council is represented in foreign policy by Charles Michel. The EU’s position is very clear: we condemn the Russian war of aggression. Ukraine can rely on our support.”

Those comments apparently made Hungary decide to cancel a trip by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock to Budapest that was planned on Monday. Instead, her Hungarian counterpart, Péter Szijjártó, accompanied Orbán to China.

However, while visiting Poland, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Monday that Orbán could not mediate between Russia and Ukraine to end fighting between the two countries.

ENDING WAR?

He added that even if Putin meets with the leader of another state, it doesn’t mean he wants to end the war in Ukraine.

Zelenskyy spoke on the day authorities announced that scores of people were killed and injured in Russian missile strikes on five Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv, where a children’s hospital was hit.

“Can [Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán] be a mediator [to end the war]? There is no mediation between Russia and Ukraine,” Zelenskyy stressed during a joint press conference with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk in Warsaw, the Polish capital.

“You need to have an economy that influences Russia, and Putin depends on it. Or you have a very powerful army that Putin fears, which is stronger than the Russian one,” Zelenskyy explained.

“Are there many such countries in the world? Not many. I think the USA is such a country as China and the EU. Not just one country but the entire European Union. This can truly be a mediating mission,” he added.

However, with hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians killed and injured on both sides, Hungary argues there is no military solution to ending the war.

That position is shared by Donald J. Trump, a close Orbán ally who may return to the White House, polls suggest.

URGING POWERS

Following talks with Hungary’s Orbán, China’s Xi urged world powers to help Russia and Ukraine resume direct dialogue. China has been promoting its six-point peace plan, which it issued with Brazil in May.

Beijing says it is neutral in the conflict, though in practice, it supports Moscow through frequent state visits, growing trade, and joint military drills.

While hosting Orbán, Xi called on Russia and Ukraine to cease fire and on other major powers to create an environment conducive to talks. Only when all major powers project “positive energy rather than negative energy” can a cease-fire occur, Xi said in comments carried by state media.

Yet, as Xi spoke, Chinese and Belarusian troops started joint military exercises on Monday near the Belarusian city of Brest, just five kilometers from Poland, a member of the NATO military alliance.

The maneuvers, codenamed Eagle Assault, began on the eve of a NATO summit in Washington and will last 11 days until July 19

“As part of the anti-terrorist exercises, the military personnel of both countries will work out the issues of night landing, overcoming water obstacles, and conducting operations in [urban settings],” the Belarusian defense ministry said.

The announcement shared on the social media platform Telegram was followed by others showcasing the alleged readiness of the armed forces. “The NATO grouping on the border with Belarus is growing rapidly, which leads to an increase in tension in the region,” stated another post that warned of a “harsh reaction” should anyone “cross Belarusian borders.”

BROADER VISIT

Yet Xi has clarified that he also wants to maintain good relations with the European Union, including EU member state Hungary, where Orbán hosted the Chinese leader only two months ago.

Xi visited Hungary as part of a three-country European tour that also included stops in France and Serbia, which, unlike the other two, is not a member of the EU or the NATO military alliance.

During the trip, China upgraded its ties with Hungary to an “all-weather, comprehensive strategic partnership,” one of its highest designations for foreign relations that, in addition to Hungary, applies only to Belarus, Pakistan, and Venezuela.

Hungary under Orbán has built substantial political and economic ties with China despite international concerns over its human rights record, including towards Christians.

Orbán, whose government set up an agency for persecuted Christians, previously told Worthy News: “If the foreign policy of any country in the world was based on that we cooperate only with those countries who are in Western understanding democracies, two-thirds of the world would be out of our foreign policy reach.”

The European nation hosts several Chinese electric vehicle battery facilities, and in December, it announced that Chinese EV manufacturing giant BYD will open its first European EV production factory in the south of the country. Szijjártó said Chinese companies have $17.3 billion worth of investments underway, creating 25,000 jobs directly and “turning Hungary into one of the world-class centers of the global automotive revolution and technological renewal.”He added that Chinese leaders also support further increasing the number of Chinese tourists visiting Hungary and boosting the volume of Hungarian food produce on the Chinese market.

While warming relations with China and its ally Russia, Hungary broadly opposes Western military aid to Ukraine. It has blocked, delayed, or watered down EU efforts to assist Kyiv and impose sanctions on Moscow over its invasion.

Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, a move that led to Europe’s largest armed conflict since the Second World War.

Copyright 1999-2024 Worthy News. This article was originally published on Worthy News and was reproduced with permission.


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