Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has assured Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky that he will support EU candidate status for Kiev at the European Union’s summit set for June 23-24, Hungarian Government Spokesman Bertalan Havasi said following a phone call between Orban and Zelensky initiated by Kiev.
“Viktor Orban pointed out during the call that Hungary supported Ukraine’s EU candidate status and believed that bureaucratic obstacles for the country’s membership should be removed as soon as possible,” the MTI news agency quoted Havasi as saying. “The Hungarian prime minister informed the Ukrainian head of state that he would take that position at the EU summit in Brussels later this week,” he added.
The Hungarian cabinet spokesman noted that the parties had also discussed issues related to Ukrainian refugees in Hungary and various areas of bilateral cooperation. Orban specified that his country had received nearly 800,000 Ukrainian refugees and told Zelensky that Hungary was ready to continue to cooperate with Ukraine “in the energy sector, facilitate rail transportation of Ukrainian grain and welcome more Ukrainian students.”
Zelensky, in turn, wrote on Twitter that he had thanked Orban for supporting Kiev’s EU candidate status and invited him to visit Ukraine.
It was the first telephone conversation between the two leaders since Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine on February 24. Their relationship was strained because Ukrainian officials, including the president, had repeatedly criticized the Hungarian government for its alleged lack of active support and refusal to provide Kiev with weapons.