President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have called for the continuation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative beyond March 18, when the previous agreement expires.
“The continuation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative after March 18 is critically important for the whole world,” Zelenskyy said at a meeting with Guterres. “I would like to emphasize the extreme importance of continuing the Black Sea Grain Initiative,” the UN Secretary-General said.
He added that the Black Sea Grain Initiative has helped to reduce global food prices and provide support to developing countries. The food price index decreased by 20%.
As a reminder, the grain agreement was signed in July 2022 in Turkey and partially unblocked the maritime export of Ukrainian grain. The Black Sea Grain Initiative is formalized as an agreement between Ukraine, Turkey, and the UN and a mirror agreement with Russia. It concerns exports from the Ukrainian ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Yuzhne: merchant ships pass through specially created and mined corridors, and they are required to call in Turkey for inspection.
On November 17, 2022, the grain agreement was extended for four months. Therefore, it will expire on March 18 this year, unless the agreement is extended again.
On March 1, Russia announced that it would agree to extend the Black Sea Grain Agreement only if the interests of its own agricultural producers are taken into account. Moscow argues that sanctions affecting its payment, logistics, and insurance industries are allegedly an “obstacle” to Russia’s ability to export its own grain and fertilizers.
For his part, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Ankara is working hard to extend the agreement. Reuters reported, citing a source in the Ukrainian government, that Ukraine is also conducting online negotiations with its partners (Turkey and the UN) to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
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