Orban Claims Merkel Would Have Prevented Ukraine War

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

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban believes the Ukraine conflict wouldn’t have escalated into an “international war” if former German Chancellor Angela Merkel were still in office. He criticized the current EU leaders for lacking foresight in an interview with Die Welt published on Monday.

Orban, a vocal advocate for a diplomatic solution in Ukraine, launched a “peace mission” last week to several countries he identifies as the “five main actors” in 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 stated that they “hardly reached any agreement” on resolving the conflict, noting that he “always” misses Merkel’s pragmatic approach.

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

“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 aimed to resolve the dispute in Donbass in 2014 that preceded the current conflict. The path to peace would be significantly easier for all parties today if similar agreements were in place, argued the Hungarian prime minister.

“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 needs to be brokered by global leaders who desire it, and claiming that “unfortunately we lack those.”

Orban has frequently criticized the West’s approach to the Ukraine conflict, calling for a diplomatic settlement through negotiations. However, his ceasefire proposal to Ukraine’s Vladimir Zelensky earlier this month was rejected, while his EU counterparts criticized him for his subsequent 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.

Commenting on these threats, Orban said he is “used to being criticized” and won’t alter 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.