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UN chief thanks Türkiye for its ‘pivotal role’ in grain export deal

UN chief thanks Türkiye for its ‘pivotal role’ in grain export deal

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday thanked Türkiye for its “pivotal role” in the signing of the recent grain export deal, officially known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

His remarks came during a joint press conference with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar at the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) overseeing Ukrainian grain exports in Istanbul.

Noting that every member of the delegations represented at the JCC – Ukrainian, Russian, Turkish, and UN – have been working with dedication and professionalism, he said: “They embody what we can achieve with political will, top operational expertise, and collective effort.”

“The other part of this package deal is unimpeded access to the global markets of Russian food and fertilizer, which are not subject to sanctions,” he said, adding that it is important that all governments and the private sector cooperate to bring them to market.

“Without fertilizer in 2022, there may not be enough food in 2023,” the UN chief said, adding: “Getting more food and fertilizer out of Ukraine and Russia is crucial to further calm commodity markets and lower prices for consumers.”

He said that more than 650,000 metric tons of grain and other food are already on their way to markets around the world.

“We are at the beginning of a much longer process, but you have already shown the potential of this critical agreement for the world,” the UN chief said.

Guterres said he spotted the World Food Program-chartered vessel – Brave Commander – waiting to sail to the Horn of Africa to bring “urgently needed relief” to those suffering from acute hunger.

“Just yesterday, I was in Odesa port and saw first-hand the loading on a cargo of wheat onto a ship. I was so moved watching the wheat fill up the hold of the ship. It was the loading of hope for so many around the world,” he added.

On a question on whether the UN was working to lift Russia’s current embargoes on food products and fertilizers, Guterres said he made it absolutely clear not to ban food and fertilizers.

Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed the deal last month to resume grain exports from the Ukrainian Black Sea ports of Yuzhny, Chornomorsk, and Odesa, which were halted due to the Russia-Ukraine war, now in its sixth month.

The JCC, with officials from the three countries and the UN, has been set up in Istanbul to oversee the shipments.

For his part, Akar said 656,349 tons of Ukrainian grain and agricultural products have left Ukrainian ports since Aug. 1. According to him, as many as 51 ships have sailed, 27 of which have departed from Ukraine, with more on their way.

“We consider that this number will gradually increase,” he added.

“A total of 14 representatives from Türkiye, 22 from Russia, 12 from Ukraine, and 23 from the UN are currently employed by this center, which operates under the auspices of the UN and is hosted by Türkiye,” Akar said, adding that there are no military elements on the field.