Though it expired on Monday, Türkiye is still working hard to ensure the continuation of last year’s landmark Black Sea grain deal, the country’s National Defense Ministry said on Thursday.
“The whole world attaches great importance to the maintenance of the grain deal. It is clear that the agreement, which was established through joint efforts, plays a vital role in tackling the global food crisis,” a National Defense Ministry official told reporters at a background briefing in the capital Ankara.
Russia on Monday suspended its participation in the deal, which it signed last July along with Türkiye, the UN, and Ukraine to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports paused after the Russia-Ukraine war began in February.
Moscow says its conditions are not being met
Even when renewing the deal in previous months, Moscow has complained that the Russian part of the agreement was not being implemented.
“We hope that this initiative will continue, as it contributes greatly to the stabilization of global food prices and proves that all crises can be resolved with goodwill and dialogue,” the Turkish official said.
Stating that the deal was extended three times already – on Nov. 19, March 18, and May 18 – the official said that more than 33 million tons of grain had been shipped from Ukrainian ports to 45 countries on three continents.
“Our contacts with officials from the UN, Russia, and Ukraine regarding the extension of the grain initiative, which expired on July 17 and was stopped by Russia, continue in coordination with the Turkish Foreign Ministry,” he added.
Ankara’s readiness for a ceasefire
Türkiye is ready to assume an “active and facilitating” role for a ceasefire and lasting peace, and to provide all kinds of support to alleviate the humanitarian crisis, he said.
Asked about Russian personnel at the Istanbul Joint Coordination Center, which has been implementing the deal, a National Defense Ministry source, who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “Russian personnel left the center,” adding that Türkiye favors continuation of the deal with its current status.
A Joint Coordination Center was set up in Istanbul with officials from the three countries and the UN to oversee the shipments.
Türkiye, internationally praised for its unique mediator role between Ukraine and Russia, has repeatedly called on Kyiv and Moscow to end the war through negotiations.