Angered by troublemaker Orban, the EU wants to suspend its work

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban aroused anger and incomprehension within the European Union by visiting Vladimir Putin, a “peace initiative” not accepted by the Twenty-Seven who are now seeking to slow him down.

Since July 1, Hungary has held the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, a role which allows it to coordinate legislative work but does not allow it to speak on behalf of Europeans on the international stage.

But Mr. Orban is accused of abusing this position.

His visit to Moscow on Friday to discuss the terms of a “ceasefire” in Ukraine breaks with the European position of total support for kyiv and isolation of Russia.

It is all the more poorly received as Russian bombings left more than 30 dead in Ukraine on Monday and devastated a children’s hospital, causing shock in the country and among its allies.

“Viktor Orban in no way represents the EU. He is exploiting the EU presidency to sow confusion,” protests Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, recently chosen by the Twenty-Seven to succeed Josep Borrell at the head of European diplomacy.

The subject is on the agenda for a meeting of ambassadors from EU member countries on Wednesday in Brussels.

“Many states will express their great dissatisfaction with Orban’s recent actions,” a European diplomat told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

– “A troll” –

“Orban is a troll, he makes fun of the world… We want to give him a yellow card and tell him that we are not fooled by his nonsense,” said another.

No concrete announcements are expected on Wednesday, but ambassadors are expected to begin discussing possible measures against Hungary, including a possible boycott of informal EU meetings planned in the country in the coming months.

“Tensions are high after only seven days of the Hungarian presidency,” said a third diplomat, according to whom “concern is growing about the so-called ‘peace mission’ that Mr. Orban has taken upon himself.”

Several sources, however, denied the rumor that the presidency of the Council of the EU could be taken away from Hungary and given to Poland as early as September. “No country has talked about it,” said one diplomat.

Mr. Orban’s visit to the Russian president “to end the war” should also fuel discussions at the NATO summit in Washington, in which the Hungarian leader is participating, at the end of an international trip which saw him go to kyiv, before Moscow, then Beijing.

According to a letter sent by Mr. Orban to the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, Mr. Putin said he was open “to any ceasefire proposal which would not serve the reorganization of Ukrainian forces.”

The Russian president also reportedly said he had “precise ideas” about what the “new European architecture” should look like after the end of the conflict, but Mr. Orban’s letter, seen by AFP, does not provide any details.

– Reinforced by Trump –

Despite the war, Hungary has strengthened its ties with the Kremlin, in the name of its economic interests, particularly in the energy sector.

Viktor Orban criticizes sanctions against Russia and military aid to kyiv. He opposes Ukraine’s membership in the EU.

Fortunately, the traditional speech by the leader holding the rotating presidency of the EU to MEPs, usually delivered in July, will ultimately be postponed until September.

In the European Parliament, there is a lot of emphasis on the need to focus next week on appointments to key positions in the institutions. But it is clear that Mr. Orban does not want to launch into thunderous speeches in this context.

The Hungarian leader increased his influence in this chamber by joining forces with Jordan Bardella’s National Rally on Monday to create the third political group.

Europe is all the more embarrassed as it fears a return of former US President Donald Trump, which could undermine support for kyiv.

Trump and Orban are linked by mutual admiration. The slogan of the Hungarian EU presidency for the next six months, “Make Europe Great Again”, is directly inspired by Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again”.

“The prospect of a return of Donald Trump to the White House encourages Viktor Orban to openly express his disagreement with the EU and the United States of Joe Biden on Ukraine,” underlines Thierry Chopin, political scientist at the Jacques Institute Delors.

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