The Black Sea Grain Initiative should be resumed by addressing deficiencies that hampered the suspended deal, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Monday.
“We believe the initiative should be continued by correcting its deficiencies,” Erdoğan told a news conference with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
Erdoğan is on a one-day working visit to Russia’s coastal city of Sochi to discuss with Putin current regional and global issues, as well as bilateral ties. The revival of last year’s historic Black Sea grain deal that helped ease the global food crisis was a top issue at the meeting.
This July Russia suspended its participation in the deal, brokered by Türkiye and the UN, to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports that were paused after the Ukraine war, which started in February 2022.
Moscow has complained that the West failed to meet its obligations on Russia’s own grain exports and that not enough Ukrainian grain was going to countries in need. It says restrictions on payments, logistics, and insurance have stood in the way of its shipments.
No alternative to current initiative
Confirming the importance of fulfilling Russia’s demands for exports of its own grain and fertilizer, Türkiye says there is no alternative to the initiative.
“Proposed alternatives to the grain deal could not offer a sustainable, safe, and permanent model based on cooperation between parties, (one) like the Black Sea initiative,” Erdoğan said.
The deal has played a “key role” in addressing the global food crisis, Erdoğan said, adding that it acts like a “breathing tube” for those in need like in Africa.
Ankara is ready to do what is necessary to send grain to some poor African countries, Erdoğan said, adding that Türkiye and Russia agree on that.
“Putin said, ‘We have completed the logistic work to send 1 million tons of grain to poor countries’ and we said, ‘We, as Türkiye, are responsible for whatever duty falls upon us’,” he added.
On a joint proposal for grain shipments prepared with the UN, Erdoğan said: “I believe that Türkiye will reach a solution that will meet expectations within a short time.”
Ukraine needs to soften its approach in order to take joint steps with Russia amid the ongoing war, Erdoğan stressed, adding: “We have previously hosted direct negotiations between the parties. We are ready to do our part, as always, in this regard.”
Erdoğan underscored lasting stability
Türkiye is determined to continue its work to ensure lasting peace, stability, and prosperity in the region, he added.
Ankara has been carrying out intense diplomatic efforts for the restoration of the July 2022 deal and has also called on Kyiv and Moscow to end the war through negotiations.