UN Secretary General: 'This is a major diplomatic breakthrough'
Ukraine and Russia have signed a UN-backed agreement allowing millions of tons of grain to be exported from blocked Black Sea ports, potentially averting the threat of a catastrophic global food crisis crisis. The world media highly appreciated the agreements reached with the mediation of Turkey.
PHOTO: REJEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN. Photo: ruwikipedia
The signing ceremony at the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul was attended by UN Secretary General António Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who played a key role in months of tense negotiations, writes The Guardian.
In his speech at the ceremony, Guterres said the deal would pave the way for significant food exports from Ukraine and alleviate food and economic crises in developing countries. He said that “a beacon of hope shone brightly in the Black Sea”, and called on Moscow and Kyiv to fully implement the agreement.
As The Guardian explains, the purpose of the deal is to ensure the passage of grain and essential goods (such as sunflower oil) from three Ukrainian ports, including Odessa, even as conflict continues in other parts of the country, which, as the UN warns, is fraught with malnutrition and hunger.
The agreement also aims to ensure the safe passage of Russian-made fertilizers needed to ensure high future crop yields, amid efforts to alleviate the global food crisis triggered by the conflict in Ukraine.< /p>
UN officials said they hope pre-shipments of grain can begin as early as Saturday and hope to reach the previous level of exports from three Ukrainian ports – 5 million metric tons per month – within a few weeks.
Turkish Coalition, Ukrainian and UN staff will oversee the loading of grain onto ships in Ukrainian ports before setting out on a pre-planned route through the Black Sea, which is still heavily mined by the parties to the conflict.
Ukrainian pilot boats will guide commercial grain-carrying ships to navigate the mined areas along the coastline using a safe channel map provided by the Ukrainian side.
Then the ships will cross the Black Sea towards the Turkish Bosphorus Strait under the close supervision of the joint a focal point in Istanbul, which includes representatives from the UN, Ukraine, Russia and Turkey.
Ships entering Ukraine will be checked under the supervision of the same joint focal point to ensure they are not carrying weapons or items , which can be used in conflict.
The Russian and Ukrainian sides have agreed to refrain from attacking any commercial vessels or ports involved in the vital grain initiative, while UN and Turkish observers will be in Ukrainian ports to demarcate areas protected by the agreement.
Guterres said the conclusion of such a deal between the two conflicting countries is “unprecedented” and that it “will bring relief to developing countries on the verge of bankruptcy and the most vulnerable people on the verge of starvation.”
The agreement , emphasizes The Guardian, was the result of months of constant and difficult negotiations between UN officials (including with the participation of Secretary General Guterres) and leading Russian and Ukrainian officials, who first raised this issue in April.
Although Washington has repeatedly accused Russia of using food as a “weapon” to reduce the impact of sanctions on Russian exports, the US and EU nevertheless assured companies transporting Russian agricultural goods that they were not violating sanctions before signing the deal.
CNN, quoting UN Secretary General António Guterres, calls the achievement of a deal between Ukraine and Russia a major diplomatic breakthrough aimed at alleviating the global food crisis caused by the conflict.
“Today there is a lighthouse on the Black Sea. A beacon of hope – a beacon of opportunity – a beacon of help – in a world that needs it more than ever,” Guterres said on Friday.
“Promoting the welfare of humanity has been the driving force behind these talks,” he said. UN Secretary General. “The question was not what is good for one side or the other. The focus was on what matters most to the people of our world. And let there be no doubt – this is an agreement for the whole world.
As CNN notes, the deal will also ensure unhindered access of Russian fertilizers to world markets. Russia is a major producer of fertilizers, which are vital to maximizing food production, and the cost of production has skyrocketed since the start of the Ukrainian conflict.
For his part, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the deal resulted in “millions people will be spared this danger of starvation.”
“In the coming days, we will see the beginning of shipping, and many countries will get a breath of fresh air,” Erdogan promised.
Explaining the importance of the agreements reached in Istanbul, CNN recalls that Ukraine and Russia are important suppliers of food in the world. In normal times Ukraine, known as one of the world's breadbaskets, would export about three-quarters of its grain production. According to the European Commission, about 90% of these exports were shipped by sea, from the Ukrainian ports of the Black Sea.
Thus, the Ukrainian conflict and its impact on grain exports have serious consequences, especially in the global South, which is largely depends on them. The United Nations warned last month that by disrupting Ukrainian agricultural production and blocking the export of remaining produce, the conflict in Ukraine could lead to famine or famine-like conditions for 49 million people. The UN hopes that, in accordance with the agreement, 5 million tons of grain will be exported monthly from Ukrainian ports, which is comparable to the previous, pre-conflict level.