Turkey’s Quest for Alternatives with Kiev and Moscow to Revive Grain Agreement

Turkey’s Quest for Alternatives with Kiev and Moscow to Revive Grain Agreement

In a region marred by conflict and economic instability, Turkey is making concerted efforts to broker a new pact that could safeguard commercial navigation in the Black Sea. This comes in the wake of escalating threats to the maritime vessels serving the countries in the region.

Ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine have seen a sharp increase in attacks on military vessels, sparking concerns that the crossfire could potentially harm commercial ships.

Turkey’s Role as a Mediator

Turkey has always played a pivotal role in mediating the conflict and was instrumental in crafting an agreement for the safe export of Ukrainian grain. The country has been tirelessly exploring measures to establish a new agreement that would guarantee the safety of trade in the Black Sea.

“We need an agreement that guarantees the safe navigation of commercial vessels in the Black Sea,” said Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A Look Back at the Grain Agreement

Previous Grain Agreement, a fragile compromise between Moscow and Kiev facilitated by Ankara and the United Nations, enabled the export of nearly 33 million tons of cereals from Ukraine. However, Russia unilaterally suspended the agreement in July 2023, citing that their interests were not respected. Despite the suspension, Russia didn’t rule out the possibility of rejoining the pact under revised conditions.

A New Proposal on the Table

Turkey has proposed a new agreement, in consultation with the UN, that pledges safety for all types of commercial vessels navigating the Black Sea region. While the specifics of the agreement haven’t been disclosed, Turkish officials have expressed optimism about the proposal. This new pact would ensure the secure navigation of all non-military vessels, ranging from Russian oil tankers to Ukrainian grain ships.

Feedback from Key Players

Key players in the conflict, Russia and Ukraine, are anticipated to accept the initiative due to the surge in attacks on their fleets by Ukrainian drones and missiles.

“The aim is to get Russia and Ukraine to commit to avoiding attacks on civilian ships in the Black Sea,” said Richard Gowan, director of the UN International Crisis Group.

Road Ahead

Turkey, which shares a maritime border with Russia and Ukraine and enables exports through the Bosphorus Strait, has ramped up its diplomatic efforts to achieve a security agreement as soon as possible. The Turkish president, Erdogan, was hoping to discuss the initiative with Vladimir Putin in Ankara, but the Russian president canceled the visit at the last minute.

The Alternate Route

An alternative route through Bulgaria and Romania’s coast has emerged in recent months for Ukraine to export its grain via the Bosphorus Strait. However, Ukraine’s President, Volodimir Zelenski, has raised concerns about the safety of this route and has urged Washington for additional military aid to monitor maritime trade.

Conclusion

Despite the ongoing tensions and geopolitical complexities, Turkey’s efforts to broker a new pact for ensuring the safety of commercial navigation in the Black Sea is a testament to its role as a key mediator in the region. The success of this initiative could pave the way for a safer and more secure trade environment in the Black Sea.