Istanbul, Jul 22 (EFE).- Russia and Ukraine signed a UN-backed deal here Friday to reopen Black Sea ports and allow resumed exports of Ukrainian grain, an agreement aimed at alleviating a global food crisis driven by Moscow’s aggression.
“Today, there is a beacon on the Black Sea. A beacon of hope, a beacon of possibility, a beacon of relief in a world that needs it more than ever,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a press conference following the signing ceremony at Istanbul’s Dolmabahçe Palace.
“And let there be no doubt, this is an agreement for the world,” the UN chief added.
The landmark deal was sealed after two months of talks that were brokered by Turkey and the UN and aimed at freeing up millions of tons of Ukrainian grain stuck in blockaded Black Sea ports, as well as easing the shipment of Russian fertilizers despite Western sanctions.
“It has been a long road,” Guterres said, adding that a solution was worked out after he held a series of meetings starting in April with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian head of state Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“We have been working every day since. It took immense efforts and commitment by all sides and weeks of around-the-clock negotiations,” he added.
The UN chief said the deal has cleared the way for the reopening of three key Ukrainian Black Sea ports – Odesa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny – to allow for the flow of “significant volumes of commercial food exports.”
“The deal will prevent billions of people from facing famine” and help ease global food inflation, said Erdogan, who played a key role in negotiations.
The Turkish president also said he hoped the deal would mark a turning point and usher in an end to the war, saying the conflict not only affects the parties involved but all of humanity and vowing that Turkey will continue to negotiate for peace.
UN officials say that under the terms of the deal, which will take a few weeks to be implemented, a coalition of Turkish, Ukrainian and UN staff will monitor the loading of grain onto vessels.
As part of the accord, Russia and Ukraine have agreed to withhold attacks on ports or commercial vessels participating in the initiative.
“This is an unprecedented agreement between two parties engaged in bloody conflict,” Guterres said. “The beacon of hope on the Black Sea is shining bright today, thanks to the collective efforts of so many.”
“In these trying and turbulent times for the region and our globe, let that beacon guide the way towards easing human suffering and securing peace,” the UN secretary-general concluded. EFE