Turkish, French leaders discuss Ukraine grain corridor ahead of Erdoğan-Putin meet
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and French President Emmanuel Macron have discussed the latest deal for creating a secure food corridor from Ukraine to the world markets ahead of the meeting between Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Tehran.
Erdoğan and Macron spoke over the phone late on July 16, the Turkish Presidential Communications Directorate said in a statement in which the two leaders addressed Türkiye-France bilateral relations and regional matters, including the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The top issue they discussed was a recent deal between Russia and Ukraine for transporting the latter’s grain through the Black Sea at a last week’s meeting in Istanbul with the participation of Turkish and U.N. officials.
Erdoğan said it was agreed that the process regarding the export of the Ukrainian grain would be managed from a coordination center to be established in Istanbul and run by officials from Türkiye, Russia, Ukraine and the United Nations.
He also noted that by swiftly implementing the plan, a huge relief would be ensured in terms of global food security.
In their first in-person meeting, the Ukrainian and Russian authorities agreed to set up a coordination center in Istanbul with the participation of Turkish and U.N. officials, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar had said. They also agreed to joint control of the ships in both entering and exiting the ports as well as on maritime security, the minister stressed.
The representatives from Russia and Ukraine will meet once again in Türkiye this week in a bid to review the technical aspects of the agreement before signing it into an official document.
Ukraine is one of the largest wheat producers and suppliers in the world. However, it could not export its wheat loaded in the ships in Odesa Port and in silos due to the ongoing war. This is having a huge impact on the underdeveloped countries that rely on Ukrainian wheat. The U.N. urges that a major food crisis can hit mostly Africa.
Erdoğan-Putin meet in Tehran
Erdoğan’s phone conversation with Macron comes before the Turkish president is set to meet Putin in Tehran on the sidelines of the Astana Summit between Türkiye, Russia and Iran.
Erdoğan and Putin will meet for the first time in person with Putin since the war broke in Ukraine. The Turkish president is expected to further press Putin for the creation of the food corridors in the Black Sea. He will also stress the need for ending the war through a lasting ceasefire, which could be mediated by Türkiye.
He has long been inviting Putin and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to meet at a trilateral summit in Istanbul to end the war.
In the bilateral context, Erdoğan also mentioned the need for the resumption of the technical works for cooperation between Türkiye and the French-Italian consortium of Eurosam on the SAMP-T air defense systems.
Erdoğan stated that Türkiye’s expectation about the SAMP-T issue was to ensure the launch of the supply project and develop a joint system that included maximum cooperation within the framework of the principle of “full transparency.”