Turkish diplomatic efforts have surged ahead as Ankara plays a pivotal role in spearheading Russia’s talks with Ukraine, the United States and EU nations with the aim of reviving a crucial grain agreement.
The agreement, which had been brokered by Türkiye and the United Nations, encountered a setback when Russia decided to withdraw from it on July 17, alleging unfulfilled obligations by its counterparts. Subsequently, Russia launched multiple strikes on Ukrainian ports, including Odesa.
Türkiye, recognizing the significance of the deal in addressing food security concerns and maintaining stable grain prices in the international market, has redoubled its diplomatic endeavors to revive the pact.
In an Aug. 2 phone call between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, the possibility of the latter’s visit to Türkiye was discussed. Although no specific timeline was provided, this prospective visit could mark Putin’s first to a NATO member country since the commencement of the ongoing conflict.
Erdoğan conveyed to his Russian counterpart that the protracted suspension of the grain agreement “will not benefit anyone,” particularly underscoring the repercussions on countries in need.
The Turkish leader further highlighted the impact of the agreement’s suspension on grain prices, stating that they had increased by 15 percent in the past two weeks, after witnessing a 23 percent decrease when the deal was in force. He vowed Türkiye would press ahead with “intensive efforts” and diplomacy to reestablish the agreement.
As part of the initiative, Russia has channeled its communication and negotiations with Ukraine, the U.S., and EU nations through Türkiye. Diplomacy involves close coordination between institutions such as the trade, foreign and defense ministries.
On Aug. 9, Türkiye’s National Security Council led by Erdoğan unequivocally urged all involved parties to swiftly engage in negotiations and bring an end to the conflict. The council emphasized that reinstating the critical deal stood as a paramount step in mitigating the adverse consequences for vulnerable nations and enhancing food stability.
Erdoğan pressed Russia and Ukraine to quickly end the war, stressing the potential negative regional repercussions. The escalating tensions in the Black Sea “were detrimental to all parties involved,” he noted.
Following their departure from Ukrainian ports, grain-laden ships, which underwent inspection by the Istanbul Joint Coordination Center, have continued to their designated ports. This has relatively averted complications for disadvantaged countries, predominantly in Africa.
Approximately 12 percent of the grain transported from Ukraine has been destined for African countries. The array of products includes barley, wheat, maize, soybean, wheat bran, processed mixed food, sunflower seed, sunflower meal, sunflower oil and pea.