NATO members Turkey, Hungary call for Ukraine ceasefire talks

Turkey and Hungary, NATO's most Russia-friendly members, called for ceasefire talks to end the war in Ukraine.

Turkish Foreign Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban made the appeals in statements to the press on Thursday.  

Çavuşoğlu, speaking in Turkey’s capital Ankara, said a deal this month to export Ukrainian grain could help establish trust between Russia and Ukraine, providing a foundation for peace talks.

"Now it’s time to focus on a cease-fire,” Çavuşoğlu said at a news conference with Georgian Foreign Minister lia Darchiashvili, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency. “As Türkiye, we will continue our efforts to make parties return to the diplomacy table as soon as possible.”

Orban, who has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin 13 times over the years, said the European Union needed to focus on peace talks rather than winning the war.

"There will be no peace without a change of strategy,” he said at a news conference with Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer in Vienna. “We cannot solve any problem without peace."

Turkey and Hungary enjoy close relations with Russia. Turkey has refused to impose sanctions on Moscow or Russian businessmen, while Orban has opposed EU sanctions on Russian oil and gas, vowing to block them and ultimately forcing EU leaders to water down the measures. Orban and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan follow similar leadership styles to President Vladimir Putin. 

The EU could soon be faced with a war economy unless a peace deal is struck, leading to “serious problems in terms of economic and political stability," Orban said.

Erdoğan meets with Putin more often than any Western leader. The two last held talks in Iran's capital of Tehran last week, helping to lay the ground for a deal to export Ukrainian grain, which has yet to be fully implemented. Erdoğan is due to travel to Sochi, Russia next week to meet with Putin again.

Erdoğan has riled fellow members of NATO by holding up the accession of Sweden and Finland, saying they do not do enough to deal with Kurdish militants threatening Turkey's security. He struck a deal with the two countries at a NATO summit in late June, but says it must be implemented fully.

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