Guterres says agreement signed on export of grain by Black Sea
ISTANBUL. July 22 (Interfax) - An agreement on shipments of grain from Ukraine via the Black Sea has been signed, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said.
"The initiative we've just signed opens the pass for significant volumes of commercial food exports from three key Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea - Odesa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny," Guterres said, speaking in Istanbul. The United Nations website livestreamed the event.
"The beacon of hope in the Black Sea is shining bright," Guterres said, adding that the agreement "must be fully implemented."
He thanked Turkey for assisting in bringing this initiative to life and the Russian and Ukrainian authorities that had agreed to sign the deal.
A monitoring center will be set up to ensure the observance of the agreement by the parties.
This center will be based in Istanbul, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
The speeches made by Guterres and Erdogan were followed by a ceremony in which two documents setting up a corridor for grain shipments were signed, one by Guterres, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, and the other by Guterres, Akar and Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov.
For his part, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the two documents signed in Turkey concern food supplies to world markets, including Ukrainian agricultural exports from Black Sea ports.
"Today in Istanbul, two documents were signed aimed at resolving the problems of food and fertilizer supplies to world markets. The first one - a memorandum - involves the UN getting involved in lifting the various restrictions on the export of Russian agricultural products and fertilizers to world markets. The second document sets an algorithm for taking Ukrainian agricultural products out of Ukraine-controlled Black Sea ports," Shoigu said.
The two documents are interconnected and form a single package, he said.
"The latter is based on the Russia-proposed algorithm which involves, among other things, a marine humanitarian corridor through which commercial ships can safely follow into the Ukraine-controlled Black Sea ports, and back," Shoigu said.
Shoigu also announced the establishment in Istanbul of a joint four-party coordination center, whose representatives will organize inspections of vessels used in taking out Ukrainian agricultural products to prevent the transportation of weapons and munitions.
"A joint four-party coordination center is being created in accordance with the agreement signed by Russia, Turkey, representatives of the UN and Ukraine. Representatives of the joint coordination center will organize inspections of vessels used in taking out Ukrainian agricultural products to prevent the transportation of weapons and munitions, and also to rule out provocations," Shoigu said in a statement.
"Inspections will be conducted both when entering and exiting the Black Sea," he said.
The security of vessels transporting grain in Ukrainian territorial waters will be Kyiv's responsibility, Shoigu said.
"It is Kyiv's responsibility to ensure the security [of vessels with grain] in Ukrainian territorial waters, including mine clearance efforts," he said.
Meanwhile, Russia will not take advantage of the demining and re-opening of Ukraine's Black Sea ports for its military purposes, Shoigu said.
"Russia has assumed the obligations which are quite clearly spelt out in this document. We will not take advantage, in this instance, of the ports being demined and opened," Shoigu said in a speech aired on Rossiya 24 television channel.
The implementation of the grain and fertilizer agreements signed in Istanbul could begin in the next few days, Shoigu said.
"Today we have all conditions in place and all decisions for this process to begin in coming days," Shoigu told Rossiya-24 TV channel.
The signing of the two Istanbul documents became possible thanks to the active meditating role of Turkey and the UN, he said.
"We expect that a responsible implementation of the measures envisaged by the documents will become a practical contribution to resolving the problems of global food security," he said.
Moreover, Russia and the UN signed a three-year memorandum of understanding regarding Russian agricultural exports eliminates the obstacles created by the United States and European Union to grain and fertilizer exports, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
"The memorandum of understanding on the Russian export of agricultural products was signed by Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister [Andrei] Belousov and UN Secretary General [Antonio] Guterres. The main objective is to ensure transparent and smooth deliveries of Russian food and fertilizers including raw material for their production, to world markets," Lavrov's statement published on his ministry's website said.
"In particular, it aims to eliminate the obstacles the U.S. and EU have created in the spheres of finance, insurance and logistics, to ensure that these products specifically are excluded from the restrictive measures imposed against our country," Lavrov said.