Türkiye hopes food corridor will be set within days
Türkiye is continuing its talks with Russia and Ukraine hopeful that a secure corridor for the shipment of Ukrainian grain to the world markets will be created very soon, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said.
Erdoğan made these remarks at a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghin late July 5 during the latter’s official visit to Ankara. The two leaders discussed bilateral and regional issues and held a press conference.
On a question on the need for a solution to the growing food crisis in the world, Erdoğan said the views both President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine on the issue were also of importance.
“We maintain our talks for the transportation of this grain, be it wheat, barley or sunflower oil, to the world. Currently, we do not have any problem regarding this issue, but the world has,” Erdoğan noted.
“Particularly, there is a great problem in Africa and we want to mediate between the two leaders and resolve the issue by continuing our talks under the roof of the United Nations with Mr. Guterres as well. We will intensify our talks within 10 days and try to reach a solution.”
Türkiye has been in close contact with both countries’ political and military officials to resolve the matter. Ukraine, one of largest grain producers in the world, cannot export its wheat and other products due to the ongoing war with Russia. With fears that Russia can attempt to occupy its key port, Odesa, Ukraine mined its territorial waters at the beginning of the war. It is believed that there are more than 80 vessels full of grain stranded in the port and more than 24 million tons of wheat in the silos.
Erdoğan is expected to talk to Putin and Zelensky in the coming days to overcome the existing problems in front of a secure food corridor through the Black Sea. Erdoğan said he and Draghi discussed the issue, stressing “We have exchanged our views on returning to the negotiation process between Russia and Ukraine, and the United Nations plan on the export of Ukrainian grain over the Black Sea.”
For his part, Prime Minister Draghi underscored the importance of reaching a solution for the Ukrainian export of its products and welcomed Türkiye’s efforts to avoid a food crisis by making a secure passage possible in line with a U.N. plan.
“We very much appreciate Türkiye’s mediation efforts. Türkiye has a central role here. There is a U.N. plan and multiple corridors must be opened,” Draghi said at the press conference.
Irregular migration on the table
The two leaders discussed the negative impacts of the continued irregular migration through their respective territories. President Erdoğan, on a question about Greece’s pushbacks of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, said “Due to these push backs, these people try to take refuge in Italy. We, for our part, make every effort about these push backs and collect these people from the seas. We collect them and try to save them. Italy is faced with the same problem as well.”
Draghi, for his part, stressed that Italy is also a host country of the migrants but it has already passed the limits.
On a question, Erdoğan also underlined Türkiye’s willingness to move forward with the SAMP/T air defense system by Eurosam, the French-Italian consortium.
“Our Defense Ministers addressed the issue as well. We want to progress to the signing phase for the SAMP/Ts as soon as possible. We want to put our signatures as it is also important to our air defense systems as well. We have mutual understanding with Mr. Prime Minister on this issue, there is no problem at all,” he said.
Erdoğan added he also discussed the matter with French President Emmanuel Macron, saying “We have mutual understanding with Mr. Macron as well. It is my wish that we put our signatures as soon as possible and look ahead.”