Balázs Orbán to Le Monde: 'The Ukraine conflict is not our conflict'

In a recent interview with the French newspaper Le Monde, Balázs Orbán, Political Director for the Hungarian Prime Minister, addressed key topics ahead of Hungary’s rotating presidency of the EU Council. The conversation covered Hungary's stance on the Russo-Ukrainian war, the country's upcoming EU presidency priorities, and the broader geopolitical context.

Balázs Orbán emphasized Hungary's position on the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, stating, "The overwhelming majority of Hungarians are neither pro-Russian nor pro-Ukrainian, they are pro-Hungarian: this conflict is not our conflict, and we want to stay out of this spiral of escalation." He assured that Hungary has received commitments from both outgoing NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and incoming Secretary Matt Rutte that Hungary can abstain from providing military aid to Ukraine. Despite its stance, Hungary remains a committed NATO ally fulfilling all its obligations to the alliance.

Balázs Orbán acknowledged Hungary’s isolation in its push for a negotiated peace in Ukraine. Slovakia had shown willingness to pursue diplomacy, but the assassination attempt on Prime Minister Fico disrupted talks between Bratislava and Budapest. Orbán expressed hope for Donald Trump’s victory in the 2024 US Presidential election, stating, "If President Trump comes back, his policy is very transparent: he wants to make peace," adding humorously, "He says he can do it in 24 hours… If he can do it in 36 hours, that’s good for us too."

Strengthening Europe’s Defense Industry

Regarding Hungary's EU Council presidency, Orbán highlighted the administration's goals to bolster Europe's defense industry and achieve strategic autonomy, aligning with France's objectives. He also noted that while historical fears of Russia are understandable, the idea that Russia would attack a NATO member is unrealistic. He stressed the importance of maintaining communication channels with Russia for achieving peace, mentioning Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's regular contact with President Vladimir Putin.

Opposition to Ursula von der Leyen's Re-election

Balázs Orbán confirmed Hungary’s opposition to Ursula von der Leyen’s re-election as European Commission President, citing her poor record: "Sanctions have failed, competitiveness has declined, the green transition has stalled, and migration issues have not been resolved." He also mentioned Fidesz's ongoing deliberations about its political group alignment within the European Parliament, following negative responses from both Giorgia Meloni and Marine Le Pen on forming a joint far-right group.

Regional Cooperation and Future Prospects

Despite current political tensions within the Visegrád Group (V4), Orbán sees potential in strengthening cooperation between Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. He highlighted that relations between Fidesz and the French right, bolstered by their recent electoral victory, have never been better.

The interview with Le Monde underscores Hungary's nuanced and strategic approach to its foreign policy and EU presidency, balancing national interests with broader European goals.