By Janet Ekstract
İSTANBUL (GOLDENHORN AGENCY)- On Friday, Russia and Ukraine signed separate but identical agreements with Turkish and UN officials that has now made it possible for Ukraine to export 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural products, to avert what could have been one of the world’s worst global food crises ever. The deals also include exports of Russian grain and fertilizer as well. Due to Russia’s blockade of Black Sea ports in Ukraine, none of the exports were able to be released but the agreements make that possible now.
The much-anticipated agreement known as the Black Sea Initiative was lauded by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who commented: “Today, there is a beacon on the Black Sea.” The secretary-general added: “A beacon of hope, a beacon of possibility, a beacon of relief in a world that needs it more than ever.” Several days ago, Guterres praised the Turkish government and President Erdogan for their efforts in initiating the talks that led to the agreement with the UN-led negotiations culminating in the final deal.
In Istanbul on Friday, a formal signing ceremony was held with Russia, Ukraine, the UN and the Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar as well as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in attendance. Guterres, who commented to Russian and Ukrainian envoys, said: “You have overcome obstacles and put aside differences to pave the way for an initiative that will serve the common interests of all.” The secretary-general praised it as an unprecedented agreement while Erdogan said that he hoped this initiative can be “a new turning point that will revive hopes for peace.”
Both the EU and Britain also lauded the agreements with EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell commenting: “This is a critical step forward in efforts to overcome the global food security caused by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.” He added that the success of the agreements depends on how well they will be implemented. Food security has been a major global challenge ever since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with fears of mass starvation looming if Ukraine, one of the world’s largest wheat producers wasn’t able to export its products.
Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss congratulated Türkiye and the UN on their successful efforts in finally getting the agreements signed. Truss said: “We will be watching to ensure Russia’s actions match its words.” Truss also commented that Russian President Vladimir Putin must end the war in Ukraine and withdraw from Russia to ensure “a lasting return to global security and economic stability.” Guterres said the Black Sea Initiative now opens the way for a multitude of food exports from three key Ukrainian ports that include Odesa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny.