Turkey intensifies efforts to create “food corridor” in Black Sea
Turkey has accelerated its diplomatic efforts with Russia and Ukraine to create a secure “food corridor” through the Black Sea for the transport of around 20 million tons of grain products from the Ukrainian ports to the world markets.
According to a draft plan reported by the private broadcaster, NTV, millions of tons of grain products, mostly wheat, will be shipped to the world markets to prevent a major global food crisis, particularly in the African continent.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had said, in an interview earlier this week, that Turkey’s priority is now to take action to avoid a global food crisis by intensifying its engagement with both Ukraine and Russia. Ukraine is one of the biggest producers of wheat and the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine has prevented the necessary shipments of grain products from the country.
The plan suggests bringing the two warring sides around the same table in the coming days once again under the Turkish mediation and with the participation of the UN. The meeting is expected to produce a concrete roadmap for the establishment of the proposed corridor. It also envisages the establishment of a liaison office in Istanbul to secure the passage of the tankers through that corridor. The liaison office will stay connected with both sides as well as the tankers for a smooth implementation of the plan.
The plan came to the fore following President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky over the phone last weekend. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will come to Turkey on June 8 to discuss the modalities of the food corridor.
Russia and Ukraine have concerns
According to the plan, the tankers at Odessa port of Ukraine will put out to the Black Sea after the region will has been cleared of the sea mines and their route is secured. The Russian side insists that the ships that will use the Odessa Port should not carry weapons on board and it wants to control all the vessels to be used in this operation.
Another problem concerning the plan is the fact that insurance companies reject insurance coverage for the Russian vessels, which prevent them from using international ports. According to the diplomatic sources, there are ongoing works to overcome these problems.
Ukraine, however, is expressing concerns that de-mining of the Odessa Port will create security problems for the defense of the critically important coastal city against a potential Russian occupation. In the early phases of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Odessa had been seen as one of the important targets for Moscow. The city which hosts important Ukraine military bases was bombarded by the Russian army.