On Thursday, 1 June, Viktor Orbán participated in the European Political Community Summit in Moldova. Upon his arrival at the meeting, the Hungarian Prime Minister was welcomed by Maia Sandu, the Moldovan President who is hosting the gathering at the Bulboaca Palace near Chișinău.
The Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy was also invited to the one-day event, where he had the opportunity to discuss the developments of the Ukrainian war with 46 other world leaders in Chișinău. The Ukrainian President expressed his gratitude to Sandu for the support provided by Kyiv and for hosting Ukrainian refugees. Zelenskyy also reaffirmed Ukraine’s pursuit of full membership in both the European Union and NATO.
Sandu previously stated that the large-scale meeting held near the Ukrainian border demonstrates the growing unity of the continent, reaffirms the participants’ commitment to peace, condemns Russia’s war in Ukraine, and expresses solidarity with Kyiv.
Viktor Orbán and Zelenskyy
PM Orbán must have ‘run into’ Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the meeting, as some Hungarian media put it. However, conspicuously, Viktor Orbán did not post any photos of him and the Ukrainian leader to social media, as opposed to prominently featured pictures with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in a Facebook post. In fact, no formal meeting has been held between the two leaders since Zelenskyy entered office. Although Orbán has been invited to Kyiv, the Hungarian government has made it quite clear that the Hungarian PM will not be travelling to Ukraine unless the rights of the Hungarian minority in the country are restored.
The European Political Community
The establishment of the European Political Community was initiated by French President Emmanuel Macron to facilitate broader, informal, and flexible discussions on current political issues outside the framework of the European Union, as well as to enable closer cooperation between EU member states and countries outside the organisation. The first summit was held in Prague in October of last year.
The main topics of the current meeting included peace and security, energy supply and climate protection, as well as the improvement of infrastructure networks among European countries. In addition to representatives of EU member states and European Union institutions, twenty European heads of state or government were also in attendance.
Moldova and NATO
Prior to the summit, NATO announced increased monitoring of Moldova’s airspace. The extension of the AWACS air surveillance system signifies that Moldova is an important partner for the North Atlantic Alliance, as stated in the alliance’s press release.
Borrell Addresses Kosovo Conflict
Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, emphasised that one of the goals of the meeting is to demonstrate unity in upholding international law. Russia has excluded itself from this community by attacking Ukraine, he declared. He added that the summit would also discuss the stability of the entire continent, particularly in light of concerning developments in the Balkans. The High Representative stated that violence is by no means a solution to the situation in Kosovo. He mentioned that this position is reaffirmed by the presidents of Kosovo and Serbia in Moldova as well.
However, speaking before the meeting, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovar President Vjosa Osmani accused each other of provoking the tensions. Osmani emphasised that Serbia supports ‘illegal structures’ in Kosovo, while Vučić believes that the solution lies in Kosovo recalling the disputed local leaders from the Serbian-populated areas. Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer also highlighted the importance of stopping the violence in Kosovo. At the same time, he stressed that while taking a stand in support of the European integration of Moldova and other Eastern European countries, the assistance needed for the EU accession aspirations of Western Balkan countries should not be overlooked.