Erdogan says Black Sea grain deal could be restored soon

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a meeting in Sochi, Russia, September 4, 2023. Sputnik/Sergey Gunev/Pool via Reuters Obtaining licensing rights

  • Erdogan and Putin met in Sochi
  • Putin: The West must stop obstructing Russian exports
  • Erdogan: Seeking a settlement to restore Russia
  • The United Nations is seeking to bring Russia back into the agreement

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday that it would soon be possible to revive a grain deal that the United Nations says helped ease the food crisis by getting Ukrainian grain to the market.

Russia withdrew from the agreement in July – a year after the United Nations and Turkey brokered it – as it complained that its food and fertilizer exports faced serious obstacles.

Erdogan, who previously played an important role in convincing Putin to adhere to the agreement, and the United Nations, are trying to persuade Putin to return to the agreement.

“As Turkey, we believe that we will reach a solution that meets 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 are known to everyone and the shortcomings must be removed, adding that Turkey and the United Nations have worked on a new package of proposals to allay Russian concerns.

Putin said Russia could return to the grain deal if the West adheres to a separate memorandum agreed with the United Nations at the same time to facilitate Russian food and fertilizer exports.

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Standing alongside Erdogan, Putin said that Russia could return to the agreement but only if the West stopped restricting the access of Russian agricultural exports to global markets.

Putin said: “We will be ready to consider the possibility of reviving the grain agreement, and I informed Mr. President about this again today, and we will do so as soon as all agreements related to lifting restrictions on the export of Russian agricultural products are fully implemented.” He said.

He said that Western allegations that Russia sparked the food crisis by suspending its participation in the grain deal are incorrect because prices did not rise after it left the deal.

“There is no material shortage of food,” Putin said.

Grain deal?

While Russian food and fertilizer exports are not subject to Western sanctions imposed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Russia exported record amounts of wheat last year, Moscow and agricultural product exporters say restrictions on payments, logistics and insurance have hampered shipments.

“The West continues to prevent the supply of grains and fertilizers from the Russian Federation to global markets,” Putin said, adding that the West “deceived” Russia about the agreement because rich countries obtained more than 70% of the grains exported under the agreement. an agreement.

Russia and Ukraine are the world’s major agricultural producers, and major players in the markets for wheat, barley, corn, rapeseed, rapeseed oil, sunflower seeds and sunflower oil.

Putin said that Russia expects a grain harvest of 130 million tons this year, of which 60 million tons can be exported.

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday that he had sent Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov “a set of concrete proposals” aimed at reviving the agreement.

One of Moscow’s main demands is to reconnect the Agricultural Bank of Russia to the international payments system SWIFT. The European Union cut it off in June 2022 as part of comprehensive sanctions imposed in response to the invasion.

Putin said that the plan to supply up to one million tons of Russian grain to Turkey at reduced prices for subsequent processing in Turkish factories and shipment to countries most in need is not an alternative to the grain deal.

He added that Russia is close to reaching an agreement with six African countries on a plan to supply Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, the Central African Republic and Eritrea with up to 50,000 tons of grain each for free.

Writing by Guy Faulconbridge. (Additional reporting by Lydia Kelly in Melbourne, Orhan Coskun and Ece Toksabay in Ankara and Michelle Nicholls at the United Nations) Editing by Robert Birsel and Philippa Fletcher

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