BY DAILY SABAH WITH AA
ISTANBUL NOV 13, 2022 –
Commercial vessels, including vessels that are part of the Black Sea grain deal, wait to pass through the Bosporus strait off the shores of Yenikapı during a misty morning in Istanbul, Türkiye, Oct. 31, 2022. (Reuters Photo)
Parties to the grain deal that has allowed Ukrainian grain exports to reach world markets via the Black Sea should agree to extend it beyond its expiration on Nov. 19, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Saturday.
Answering the questions of journalists on the plane returning from Uzbekistan, Erdoğan said it is wrong to put a time limit on the grain corridor.
“We stated that the longer the time is kept, the more accurate it will be,” he said.
Expressing that the number of African countries that receive food supply from this corridor can be increased, Erdoğan said they agreed with Russian President Vladimir Putin that such a step can be taken in the name of African countries.
“It would not be a fair approach to put Africa aside and send it (grain) to Europe,” Erdoğan said.
The fate of a grain deal after Nov. 18 when it ends has not yet been decided, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin said Saturday.
Speaking at a news conference in Geneva following a meeting with representatives of the U.N. regarding the grain deal, Vershinin said the decision on the extension has to take into account all aspects.
Vershinin noted that the deal consists of two parts and the part suggesting lifting sanctions from exports of Russian food is not being implemented.
“It is impossible not to mention here the terrorist attacks that the Ukrainian side carried out on the Crimean Bridge. And the terrorist attack on Sevastopol, where ships are stationed that provide a humanitarian corridor through which dry cargo ships or other vessels go as part of the implementation of this Black Sea grain deal,” he said.
Vershinin characterized as “hypocrisy” Western accusations against Russia putting the responsibility on the country for the food crisis.
He pointed out that the grain deal was made to supply food to the poor countries and now most of the grain goes to the EU.
“Hypocrisy here, as they say, hurts the eye. When we pay attention to this, the grain going to the EU, we are told that maybe there is a use of them for further processing.
“We say – OK, then let’s see what the final destination point of these loadings is. If we are talking about countries in need in Africa, Asia, Latin America, this is one thing. If we are talking about supplies to the European Union, then those earlier statements about the threat of famine are simply absolutely hypocritical,” he said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a separate statement that “only ensuring unhindered access of Russian food and fertilizers to world markets will make it possible to achieve stable price stabilization and guarantee a future harvest.”
It added that humanitarian tasks of providing assistance to countries in need and reducing the threat of hunger should not be politicized and become the subject of unilateral sanctions.
Türkiye, the U.N., Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement in Istanbul on July 22 to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports, which were paused after the Russia-Ukraine war began in February.
A Joint Coordination Centre with officials from the three countries and the U.N. has been set up in Istanbul to oversee the shipments.