From the NATO summit to the grain corridor
Especially in the last few months, those who follow the global diplomatic backstage are closely watching Turkey.
The international press, social media campaigns of foreign countries, official statements and several others focus on the country. The common point among almost all of them is Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a leader whose every statement is closely followed by the world.
The intense interest in Erdoğan’s press conference at the NATO summit in Madrid already sums up the situation. As a journalist attending the summit, this is my observation. The press conference held on the day of the signing of the memorandum on Sweden and Finland’s membership came in from the cold for those who said “Turkey could not resist any longer, it lifted the blockade.”
While Swedish and Finnish politicians were relaying covert messages to foreign agencies like “we made no concessions,” Erdoğan completely changed this atmosphere with this press conference. His warning that “Sweden and Finland must do their duty. If they don’t, the agreement will not go to the parliament” shocked those who saw NATO membership as a bird in the hand because of the memorandum.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, who used vague expressions despite Erdoğan saying “Sweden has promised they will return 73 terrorists,” finally had to spill the beans in the face of persistent questions. “If you haven’t been involved in terrorist activities, you have nothing to worry about,” she said. Questioning Turkey’s diplomatic victory in Madrid for days, the international press eventually had to use a headline that “Andersson did not deny Erdoğan’s statement that ’73 terrorists will be extradited.’” (Source: Euronews)
However, for those who understand diplomacy, there is only one truth, just like Erdoğan’s statement to us journalists in Madrid: “Although the opposition tried to overshadow it, the NATO summit was a great diplomatic victory for Turkey.”
At this point, it is necessary to look at another issue, the food corridor, which is turning the world’s eyes to Turkey. Because it would not be wrong to say that a similar process is unfolding in this regard as well.
In Ukraine, one of the most important grain producers in the world, thousands of tons of grain products have been stuck in ships since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war. In order for the ships waiting in the Odessa port to be able to sail, the sea mines laid for the Russian warships to reach the port must be cleared. Thus, the aim is to open a safe corridor over the Black Sea.
Turkey carries out shuttle diplomacy with the United Nations, Russia and Ukraine to implement the plan. According to the plan, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) will be involved in clearing the port of mines while Russia will ensure the safety of the ships in the Black Sea. Establishing a contact point in Istanbul for the coordination of the plan is on the agenda.
Of course, some people were disturbed by Turkey’s impartial diplomacy with all the actors involved in the problem and its position as a key country for a solution. The news that “Turkey is buying stolen grain,” which was served to the Western press, is the biggest proof of this.
Similar “news” was in effect at the time Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership was blocked. Fortunately, Turkey is a country experienced in combating disinformation. Erdoğan’s words at the recent press conference with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi once again show that Turkey is a playmaker.
“We are continuing our talks because this grain, or wheat, barley, sunflower oil is a matter of transportation to the world. For example, we do not have a problem with these issues at the moment, but there is a problem in the world. Especially in Africa, there is a serious problem and we are an intermediary to both leaders (Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy) in this regard. We want to be and continue this by meeting with (U.N. chief Antonio) Mr. Guterres under the U.N. umbrella. We will try to intensify these talks within a week and 10 days and reach a result,” Erdoğan said.
Good news about the grain corridor is coming soon, thanks to Turkey, which has risen to the position of playmaker in the diplomatic arena.