Merkel would have prevented Ukraine conflict – Orban

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The former German chancellor had the ability to isolate crises which posed a threat to Europe, the Hungarian PM has argued

The Ukraine conflict would not have escalated into an “international war” if former German Chancellor Angela Merkel were still in power, according to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. He accused current EU leaders of lacking vision in an interview with Die Welt published on Monday.

A vocal proponent of a diplomatic solution for Ukraine, Orban last week embarked on a “peace mission” to some of the countries he says are the “five main actors” to the conflict – Ukraine, Russia, China, the EU, and the US.

Orban’s first stop was Germany, where he spoke to Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The Hungarian leader said “there was hardly any agreement” between the pair regarding the resolution of the conflict, noting that he “always” misses Scholz’s predecessor, Merkel, due to her practical approach.

According to Orban, if Merkel were still in power, the Russia-Ukraine conflict in its current form “would never have happened.”

“She had the ability, the understanding and the skills to isolate the conflicts that are bad for Europe. We made the mistake of allowing there to be a conflict, of allowing there to be a war. And instead of isolating it, we escalated it and made it international,” he stated.

Orban recalled the failed Minsk peace accords, brokered by France and Germany, which ostensibly sought to resolve the dispute in Donbass in 2014 that preceded the current conflict. The path to peace would be much easier for all parties today if similar agreements were in place, the Hungarian prime minister argued.

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“If you believe that a political agreement like Minsk can solve all problems, then Minsk is of course a failure. But if you see that there is a situation that is bad and needs to be resolved somehow, then the only relevant reference point is not how can it be made better, but how it can be prevented from getting even worse,” Orban stated.

“Peace does not come by itself,” he added, stating that it has to be brokered by global leaders who want it, and claiming that “unfortunately we lack those.”

Orban has often criticized the West’s approach to the Ukraine conflict, calling for a diplomatic settlement through negotiations. However, his ceasefire overture to Ukraine’s Vladimir Zelensky earlier this month was rejected, while his EU peers criticized him for his later visit to Russia. Several diplomatic sources told Politico earlier this week that the bloc could even revoke Hungary’s rotating EU presidency, which it assumed last month.

READ MORE: Orban cannot ‘end this war’ – Zelensky

Commenting on these threats, Orban said he is “used to being criticized” and will not change his approach to appease his critics.

“When you are Hungarian prime minister, and live in a world like the one we live in, [criticism] is part of it… I’m helping Europe. My approach to the whole situation is how we can develop better policies for Europe,” he insisted.

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