Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his support for his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodimir Zelensky, to prolong the grain export agreement between Ukraine and Russia, of which Turkey and the UN are mediators. He, in turn, assured that kyiv “deserves to join the alliance”, referring to Ukraine’s entry into NATO. All this during Zelenski’s tour of Europe, an itinerary that will allow him to gather international support in the old continent.
In a press conference in Istanbul on July 7, the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, expressed his willingness to support the extension of the grain agreement between Kiev and Moscow, which allows the transit of ships through the Black Sea to export grain. Ukrainian and Russian fertilizers.
The Turkish president announced that he will speak with the head of the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin, to prolong this treaty that has benefited the most impoverished countries in the world. Erdogan who will contact Putin “by phone or next month, when he comes (to Turkey).”
Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Putin has not visited Ankara, and although the exact date of the visit is not yet known, it is expected that he will do so in August of this year and it will be an opportunity to confirm the extension of the agreement.
Despite this, Russia has so far remained skeptical about the extension of the treaty. She has said that she sees no rationale for extending it as it has become commercial and not humanitarian, taking away from the initial purpose of that agreement. In addition, she affirms that all the international sanctions against her do not allow a large part of the pact involving the Kremlin to be fulfilled.
Meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan @RTErdogan. Very important negotiations.
Security – both in our Black Sea region and Europe in general. I am grateful for the support of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Peace formula. Protection of our… pic.twitter.com/FfsniYKZ7q
— Volodimir Zelensky (@ZelenskyyUa) July 7, 2023
What is the grain deal?
In July 2022 Ukraine and Russia signed a treaty – mediated by Turkey and the UN – which allows the transit of ships loaded with Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea to Turkey. Kiev is part of the group of the main grain exporters in the world, and since the start of the Russo-Ukrainian war until the signing of the agreement, hundreds of shipments of merchandise remained blocked in seaports.
The merchandise, which arrives through all the Black Sea ports, has allowed market prices to stabilize in Europe, after they rose after the start of the conflict between the Kremlin and Ukraine. Tons of corn, wheat and other grains have sailed to reach their commercial ports of destination.
Erdoğan stated: “We are working to prolong the agreement on grain. We want the extension of the agreement that will end on July 17. I believe that the parties (Moscow and kyiv) will act responsibly.” He also assured that “there are 12 Turkish ships held in Ukrainian ports”, pointing out the current situation of the pact.
The one who also ruled on the extension of this alliance was António Guterres, Secretary General of the UN, who requested this July 7 in a statement “prioritize global food security”, in the face of a possible Russian refusal to prolong the pact. The president of the supranational entity recalled the benefits of the agreement for lowering food prices around the world.
Zelensky blames Russia for obstructing the movement of the ships and assures that “everyone wants the continuation.” “Russia behaves as if it owned the entire Black Sea, as if it owned it here,” said the Ukrainian president.
Turkey has remained neutral in its relations with Ukraine and Russia, and as a result has adopted a position of mediator between these two countries at war. The Kremlin also claims the deal has hurt his country’s food and fertilizer exports.
Zelenski, on a trip to Europe
The President of Ukraine has visited countries such as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Turkey, in his search for international support.
Mainly, he has counted on the ratification of the support of these countries for the accession of his nation to NATO, once the conflict with the Kremlin has ended. The Czech president, Petr Pavel, reaffirmed his country’s interest in starting negotiations as soon as the war is over for kyiv to become part of the Atlantic Alliance.
This July 6, the Ukrainian president visited Bulgaria, where he delved into issues such as European integration and his country’s cooperation with Sofia in relation to the bilateral energy alliance. He also secured there kyiv’s right to fight Russian aggression and to seek help to do so.
The Turkish chief executive also spoke about Ukraine’s link to the Alliance, stating that “there is no doubt that Ukraine deserves to be a member of NATO.” The next 11 and 12 will take place the summit of the member countries of the organization in Vilnius, Lithuania; there the leaders are expected to pronounce on kyiv’s intention to join NATO.
With EFE, AP and local media