Press statement by Viktor Orbán after his meeting with Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine

2 July 2024, Kyiv (Київ)

Thank you, President Zelenskyy, for inviting me here to your capital.

We met in Brussels on Thursday and agreed on this meeting today. The time had come for this to happen. There are a number of bilateral issues between our two countries that need to be settled, which we have discussed and debated a lot over the years; and I came here with the intention of making progress on bilateral relations.

As the President has said, this was a constructive discussion on bilateral issues. We are trying to put the debates of the past behind us and focus on the period ahead. We want to see much better relations between our two countries. We want to conclude a comprehensive cooperation agreement with Ukraine – just as we have with our other neighbours. We are keen to participate as much as we can in the modernisation of the Ukrainian economy, and we want an orderly framework for this. There is a Hungarian community living in Ukraine, an indigenous Hungarian community; we also hope to see progress on their affairs, and at the moment I see a good chance of achieving this. Ukrainians also live in Hungary, they did in the past, and there is a Ukrainian self-government body in Hungary. But now, because of the high number of refugees, there are many more of them than before. This raises questions, because these families need to be provided for, they need work, they need livelihoods, they need security, and their children need good schools and good teachers. I welcomed the President’s initiative to set up a Ukrainian school in Hungary. There are now hundreds of Ukrainian children studying in hundreds of schools, and hundreds of Hungarian teachers are engaged in teaching them. I think we are doing our job well. The feedback from Ukrainians who have fled to us has been very positive, but we understand that the President would also like to have a separate Ukrainian school. We see this as justified, and of course, as this is all taking place in Hungary, the Hungarian state will also be responsible for financing it. We will choose the right operator and we will run it. We will operate as many as we need: if one, then one; if ten, then ten. It is important for us that Ukrainians staying in Hungary feel at home in Hungary.

We talked about the Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The reason I am here is that Hungary will hold the Presidency – the rotating Presidency – of the Council of the European Union for the next six months. My first trip has taken me here because the issue of peace is important not only for Ukraine, but for the whole of Europe. This war that you are suffering is deeply impacting European security. We appreciate the initiatives for peace being taken by President Zelenskyy. I have told the President that in my opinion these initiatives are taking a long time, and that the rules of international diplomacy are slowing them down and are complicating them. I have asked the President to consider whether the order could be reversed, and whether a quick ceasefire could be used to speed up peace negotiations. I have taken stock of the possibilities for a ceasefire tied to a deadline, which would offer the opportunity of speeding up peace talks. I have clarified this with the President, and I am grateful for his frank dialogue and his answers. I will, of course, report on these negotiations to the European Council, to the prime ministers, so that the necessary decisions can be taken at European level. This is what has happened today.

I am grateful to the President for receiving me. Thank you for the open and frank atmosphere. I wish Ukraine every success. During the Hungarian Presidency we are at Ukraine’s disposal, and we will do whatever we can to help.

Thank you very much for your attention.