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Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, in an interview with public radio, said he had asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at their meeting in Kyiv this week several questions to gauge where his red lines were and how far he could go for the sake of peace. Orbán said his job was to make the facts clear by going to the places where there was a threat of war that may have an impact on Europe and Hungary. The prime minister said Hungary could be useful for those who strove for peace. “The positions are far apart, but Hungary can get the parties off to a start along the long road ahead, with a ceasefire and peace negotiations at the end.” Zelensky, he said, was unhappy about the idea of peace talks or a ceasefire as “the other side” may take advantage of the latter by redeploying forces. But it would be possible to overcome such a standoff “with some perspective and knowing that peace negotiations are only a few weeks or months off,” he added.
The prime minister said there were “all sorts of surveys” after Europe had decided to “get involved in the war on Ukraine’s side”. Discussions and surveys about the war, he added, were also part of the war, meaning that they were “manipulated” or “hard to believe”. Orbán mentioned his recent visits to Berlin, Rome and Paris in preparation for Hungary’s presidency of the Council of the European Union, along with his visit to Kyiv, where he said he had spoken to not just politicians and decision-makers but also “the average people”. During his trips, he said he saw a kind of “moral pressure” for Europe to do more to “ease the tension of war” when conflict broke out in its neighbourhood that should not have. There was also a feeling, he added, expectations were too weighted towards waiting for America to act instead of taking more pro-active steps today. Also, people were worried about the impact of the war on Europe’s economy, he said, citing cost-of-living worries in Western Europe and “war inflation everywhere”.