Ankara, Turkey – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his desire to restore and expand the Black Sea Initiative, also known as the grain deal, between Moscow and Kiev. Erdogan believes that if the West had demonstrated more commitment to the agreement, it could have become the foundation for peace between Russia and Ukraine. After a recent phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Erdogan revealed that conversations are already underway to restart the initiative with an expanded scope.
During the phone call, Erdogan had the opportunity to learn firsthand about Russia’s demands and expectations. He emphasized that Moscow and Ankara share a sensitivity concerning the need to supply grain to African nations. However, Erdogan stressed that the fate of the deal depends on Western nations fulfilling their promises, as he lamented that they had failed to turn the positive atmosphere created by the Black Sea Initiative into a ceasefire and permanent peace.
The Black Sea Initiative, which aimed to facilitate Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea, was mediated by the United Nations and Turkey in the summer of 2022. Initially presented as a humanitarian initiative to prevent a food crisis in the poorest nations, the agreement soon faced criticism from Russia. Moscow accused the West of commercializing the deal and profiting from cheap Ukrainian food exports.
Russia argued that only a small portion of the exported grain reached the nations in need, while the majority ended up in Europe. President Putin also pointed out the UN’s inability to convince Western nations to lift economic sanctions on Russian food and fertilizer exports, which were part of the agreement.
In July, Russia declined to renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative until promises made to Russia were fulfilled. The terms for resuming the deal included reconnecting Russia’s major agriculture lender, Rosselkhozbank, to the international payment system SWIFT, reopening an essential ammonia pipeline, allowing imports of agricultural machinery and parts, and resolving transportation insurance and other logistics issues.
Turkey’s recent announcement to reinstate the deal indicates its commitment to the Black Sea corridor and reluctance to support any alternatives. President Erdogan believes that reviving and expanding the initiative could pave the way for peace between Russia and Ukraine. However, the future of the deal ultimately lies in the hands of Western nations, who need to fulfill their promises and take diplomatic steps towards a ceasefire and permanent peace.
In conclusion, President Erdogan is determined to restore the Black Sea Initiative and expand its scope. He sees it as a potential basis for peace between Russia and Ukraine if Western nations demonstrate more commitment. The fate of the deal depends on the fulfillment of promises by Western nations, as previous opportunities to turn the initiative into a ceasefire and permanent peace were missed. Turkey’s announcement to reinstate the deal highlights its support for the Black Sea corridor and aversion to alternative solutions.