08 December, 2021

This is the Russian-Ukrainian war: in a farewell letter to Merkel, Orbán mentions Ukraine

This is the Russian-Ukrainian war: in a farewell letter to Merkel, Orbán mentions Ukraine

On Monday, December 6, a letter signed by Viktor Orbán appeared on the official website of the Prime Minister of Hungary, in which he provided a visionary account of Hungary’s cooperation and his own political relations with Angela Merkel during her 16 years as Chancellor of Germany. Ms. Merkel stood down on December 8.

This letter was published in the ‘Samizdat’ format in an homage to the tradition upheld by the Hungarian opposition, first and foremost by students, in the last 2 decades of the Soviet period in Hungarian history. Viktor Orbán was personally involved in this anti-Soviet opposition movement.

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In this short letter, Victor Orbán describes the key milestones of cooperation with Angela Merkel, mentioning the financial crisis of 2010, and of course the migration crisis of 2015, as well as the war in Ukraine.

Moreover, for the first time in his life, Viktor Orbán publicly referred to the situation in Ukraine as “the Russian-Ukrainian war.”


Here is a quote from the letter:

We managed the financial crisis in 2010, we were partners in the fight to keep the European Union together, and together we watched helplessly and without recourse to the European tragedy of the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war.’

The Hungarian version of this passage reads:

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A print screen from the website of the Hungarian PM with the highlighted excerpt from the text

A mistake in translation or an accidental slip of the tongue is out of questions, since this letter has been published in its English and German translations. These two versions are worded in the same way, “the Russian-Ukrainian war” and “russisch-ukrainischer Krieg”, respectively.

Why does this fact merit a special mention? The thing is, Viktor Orbán has the reputation of an outspokenly pro-Russian politician who does not make a secret of his interest in tight relations with Moscow and does not shy away from Putin’s friendship. Instead, Russia insists on its version of the events taking place in Ukraine – Ukraine is beset by its international conflict, a civil war, etc. According to the Kremlin, there is no ‘Russian-Ukrainian war’.


In his public statements made since 2014, the Infopost editorial office has not managed to find any mention of Viktor Orbán referring to the situation in Ukraine as a war, let alone ‘the Russian-Ukrainian war’.

It is also worth reminding that the wording “orosz–ukrán háború”, the Hungarian for ‘the Russian-Ukrainian war’ is rarely used not only in the statements made by Hungarian politicians, but also by the most liberal and pro-Western media of the country. Instead, they prefer to refer to it as ‘the conflict in Donbas’, or ‘the conflict in Eastern Ukraine’, or ‘the Russian-Ukrainian conflict’ at most.


It should be also mentioned that last July Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary, Péter Szijjártó, in the capacity of President of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe visited the Joint Forces Operation zone together with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba.  Mr. Szijjártó saw the scale of the war and the situation on the front line for himself. After the visit the Hungarian minister called the exit-entry checkpoint at Stanytsia Luhanska as ‘one of the saddest places in Europe’.

At the same time we would like to flag that Hungary keeps insisting on continuing to block Ukraine’s integration into the EU and NATO unless Ukrainian government give back the Hungarian minority in Ukraine its right for language and education that it was allegedly deprived of in the wake of the new Ukrainian law on education and language.


Ця публікація доступна також українською: Це російсько-українська війна: у прощальному листі до Меркель Орбан згадав про Україну



Photocredit EPA