A diplomatic scandal has broken out between Hungary and Ukraine.

The Hungarian ambassador in Kyiv was summoned to the Foreign Ministry because of a statement by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who compared the state of Ukraine to that of Afghanistan and described it as a kind of no man's land.

The Ukrainian government criticized the "completely unacceptable" comments and accused Budapest of deliberately trying to destroy relations between the two states.

Stephen Lowenstein

Political correspondent based in Vienna.

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Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, without commenting on the words of his Prime Minister, referred to the deaths of thousands of people in Ukraine as a result of the war.

Whole parts of the country became deserted.

Therefore, Hungary wants peace and instead of arms deliveries, an immediate ceasefire, he told the Index portal.

Statement by Orbán apparently ironic

Orbán had made his statements criticized by Kyiv in a conversation with foreign journalists last week.

He was quoted in an article on The American Conservative portal.

According to author Rod Dreher, which was confirmed to the FAZ by other participants, Orbán said the West must understand that Russian President Putin will not lose because he cannot afford it politically.

He tried to install a well-disposed regime in Kyiv with a quick victory in Ukraine.

But since that failed, Putin is concerned with turning Ukraine into an "ungovernable wreck" so that the West cannot gain a foothold there and NATO cannot establish a presence.

Orbán explained that Putin had already achieved this in Ukraine.

“She is now Afghanistan.

The land of no one.”

Another statement by Orbán from this conversation caused a stir in Hungary.

It concerns Hungary's membership of the European Union.

The prime minister and chairman of the national-conservative party Fidesz spoke of an increasing alienation between the other members of the European Council and himself and referred to the issues of LGBTQ, federalism and migration.

He is now used to being the whipping boy in Brussels.

When asked by a participant whether Hungary should remain in the EU, he then replied: "Definitely not!" Then he added that Hungary had no choice as 85 percent of its exports went to the EU.

Opposition politicians and the media then criticized Orbán for revealing plans to leave the EU.

The government, in turn, called this a lie.

Orbán's stance on EU membership is well known, said Secretary of State for Communications Zoltán Kovács.

There is no choice, membership is in the national interest.

Author Dreher corrected the wording in the article.

Participants in the conversation report that Orbán's "definitely not" was clearly ironic, as also emerges from the following.

The episode is remarkable in that it shows that both the Orbán government and the opposition are aware of the domestic political explosiveness of the Huxit issue.

Despite all the government's campaigns critical of Brussels, EU membership has met with great approval from the population.