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I don’t need a mandate to promote peace – Orban

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has defended his peacemaking efforts after a senior EU official criticized his purported plans to travel to Russia.

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Orban, who visited Kiev earlier this week and urged Ukrainian leader Vladimir Zelensky to consider an immediate ceasefire, will pay a visit to the Russian capital on Friday, media reports have speculated.

European Council President Charles Michel condemned the purported trip, claiming in a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Thursday that despite holding the rotating EU presidency, Hungary “has no mandate to engage with Russia 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,” the senior bureaucrat added.

During his weekly interview with Radio Kossuth on Friday morning, Orban rejected the notion that he should not vie for peace.

“What I do looks like negotiations in format, because we sit at tables and discuss issues, but we don’t negotiate,” he explained. “That’s why I don’t even need a mandate, because I don’t represent any party.”

Hungary is aware of its relatively limited political clout and expects larger powers to eventually hold peace talks to end the Ukraine conflict, he said.

“But we can be a good tool in the hands of God, we can be a good tool in the hands of people who want peace,” the prime minister added.

The Hungarian leader said opinion polls showing support among EU citizens for continued backing of Kiev do not correctly reflect their attitudes. Everyday people are worried about the economic cost of the conflict because EU taxpayers’ money is being spent on Ukraine, he argued.

Orban neither confirmed nor denied plans for a Moscow visit during the interview. Another pro-Kiev politician, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, previously expressed disbelief that the Hungarian leader could make the trip.

“The rumours about your visit to Moscow cannot be true @PM_ViktorOrban, or can they?” he asked in an X post.

READ MORE: Germany will ‘never’ support Ukraine ceasefire – Scholz

Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered Kiev a ceasefire in exchange for Ukraine renouncing its bid for NATO membership and withdrawing its troops from Russian territory that it lays claim to. Kiev has insisted it will not accept any outcome in which it does not control all the land it considers Ukrainian.

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