| 14 June 2024, Friday |

Turkey’s Erdogan says Black Sea grain deal can be restored soon

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said after talks with Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Monday that it would soon be possible to revive the grain deal that the United Nations says helped to ease a food crisis by getting Ukrainian grain to market.

Russia quit the deal in July – a year after it was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey – complaining that its own food and fertilizer exports faced serious obstacles.

Erdogan, who previously played a significant role in convincing Putin to stick with the deal, and the United Nations are both trying to get Putin to return to the deal.

“As Turkey, we believe that we will reach a solution that will meet the expectations in a short time,” Erdogan said in the Black Sea resort of Sochi after his first face to face meeting with Putin since 2022.

Erdogan said that Russia’s expectations were well-known to all and that the shortcomings should be eliminated, adding that Turkey and the United Nations had worked on a new package of suggestions to ease Russian concerns.

Erdogan said Ukraine should soften its negotiating position against Russia in talks over reviving the deal and export more grain to Africa rather than Europe.

“Ukraine needs to especially soften its approaches in order for it to be possible for joint steps to be taken with Russia,” he told reporters.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, speaking later on Ukrainian television, said Kyiv would not alter its stand, but would take note of Turkey’s account of the Sochi talks.

“We should not continue to be hostages to Russian blackmail, where Russia creates problems and then invites everyone to solve them,” Kuleba said.

“It is clear that we will stand in defence of all principled positions, especially regarding sanctions pressure on the Russian Federation.”

Standing beside Erdogan, Putin restated Russia’s position that it could return to the deal but only if the West stopped restricting Russian agricultural exports from reaching global markets. A separate memorandum agreed with the United Nations calls for conditions to facilitate Russia’s food and fertilizer exports.

  • Reuters