Orbán: Hungary can be a mediator and a venue for ceasefire negotiations
Hungary is “on the side of peace” and will support any peace plan, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in Bled on Thursday, adding that “we do not know which [plan] will succeed, but unless we take the first step we will never achieve peace.”
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a meeting of leaders of the Centrist Democrat International, Orbán said some saw an opportunity for a militarist settlement of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, while others saw no such opportunity and called for a ceasefire and peace talks. “The real nature of the conflict has not yet been revealed; some consider it a proxy war, and others talk about a real war between the parties,” Orbán said. Hungary will support all initiatives as nobody knows which peace plan will turn out to be successful, he added. It is not known which peace plan has a chance of succeeding, so Hungary backs all initiatives and is prepared to aid the process either as a mediator or as a venue for ceasefire negotiations, he said.
Orbán said Hungary’s stake in the war set it apart from countries in the region given the Hungarian minority living there and the Hungarian lives sacrificed, a “personal national loss” for Ukraine and Hungary alike. Explaining why Hungary has blocked further payments from the European Peace Framework fund, Orbán said the funds had been designated for European security, not for the war in Ukraine, with a view to boosting security throughout Europe. Most of the funds are being used to support Ukraine, he said, adding that Hungary wants to clarify whether the fund serves its original purpose or whether it is being channelled to supporting Ukraine. The Centrist Democrat International’s meeting is being held under the motto “Security, Justice, Peace”, and Orbán is participating as one of its vice-presidents.
Here are some photos of the summit:
Hungary’s House Speaker hails Hungary, Slovenia’s ‘exemplary’ minority rights
The “shared success story” of how Hungary and Slovenia guarantee the rights of minority citizens in each other’s countries can set an example for European Union institutions and the entire world, Speaker of Parliament László Kövér said after meeting his Slovenian counterpart on Thursday. Kövér and Urska Klakocar Zupancic met representatives of Slovenia’s Hungarian and Hungary’s Slovene minority communities in Szetgotthard, in western Hungary, and attended an event marking the 30th anniversary of the Hungarian-Slovenian bilateral agreement on minority rights.
Addressing the event, Kövér said the agreement served as an effective means of strengthening ethnic peace, national fairness and political stability. He said these values were especially important given how unresolved issues around national minorities always resulted in ethnic conflict and political instability, and could eventually lead to local or world wars, and he cited the Yugoslav Wars and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war as examples. The bilateral agreement was in many ways ahead of its time and could serve as a model for the development of a minority protection regime at EU level, which the bloc’s nearly 50 million minority-status voters have been wanting for years, the speaker said.
He said the unique aspect of the Hungarian-Slovenian agreement was that identified the national community as the subject of special protection. It defines the individual rights of minorities in the areas of culture, education, language use, media, political participation, contact with the mother nation, and recognises collective minority rights, Kövér said. Also, under the agreement, both countries made a commitment to take into consideration the special interests of local minorities when it comes economic and regional development plans and ensure their economic and social development, Kövér said. Hungary and Slovenia also vowed not to the public administrative bodies of local councils to the detriment of minorities, he added. Klakocar Zupancic said both Slovenia and Hungary continued to treat minority rights as a top priority, adding that national minorities in the two countries would continue to embody cooperation and respect.
She said the agreement contributed to good neighbourly relations between the two countries and proved that people who speak different languages could still understand each other, and that national minorities were an asset rather than a threat to the country they live in. After the ceremony and a joint press conference, Kövér and Klakocar Zupancic visited a bilingual primary school in the nearby village of Apátistvánfalva and a Slovene national minority country house in Őrfalu. In the afternoon, the speakers visited the town of Lendava (Lendva) in Slovenia’s Prekmurje (Muravidek) region, where they attended the signing of an updated version of a 2012 cooperation agreement between the Hungarian and Slovene national minority umbrella organisations in Prekmurje and Hungary’s Rábavidék.
Hungarian President in New York: Ukraine war, demographic crisis threatening Europe
Addressing a conference in New York on Thursday, Hungarian President Katalin Novák said that the war in Ukraine affected Europe, which was also witnessing “demographic decline and challenges we have not faced before”. Speaking in New York at the conference on the Sendai Framework Agreement, which was established by the UN to reduce the risks of disasters and increase resilience, the president said: “Hungary is a middle-sized country in the heart of Europe with a population of 10 million. We have no seas, nor significant natural resources. However, compared to our resources and local conditions, we have made outstanding efforts to help those in need,” the president said. She noted the coronavirus pandemic, wild fires, floods and the war in Ukraine among serious challenges faced by Europe.
Novák noted that since 2017 Hungary has sponsored some 300 humanitarian and rehabilitation projects worth over 100 million dollars in 54 countries under its Hungary Helps aid scheme. She said that in February Hungary was among the first countries on the scene helping rescue operations in a devastating earthquake that hit Turkiye, with a team of 167 specialists and 29 search dogs helping to save 35 lives. Also, Hungary delivered more than hundred tonnes of medicines and medical equipment to Turkiye and dispatched experts to help rebuild a cultural centre and a church. “We were there to help at the floods in Pakistan last year, the year before at the Croatian earthquake,” Novák said, highlighting the importance of helping one another beside “protecting ourselves”.
“A final question: whom do we want to save our planet for if not for the next generation? We need strong families, where we can teach our children to care for their own environment and to help those in need,” she said. Quoting the words of Pope Francis during his visit to Budapest last month, the Hungarian president said: “Let us give a future of hope, not war, to the next generations. A future of cradles, not of graves.” “Together, we can do even more in order to build a secure and sustainable future. Hungary is ready to help,” she said.