Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced this Saturday an agreement to extend the pact that allows the export of Ukrainian agricultural products through the Black Sea ports, a few hours after it expired.
“The grain corridor agreement ended as of today. As a result of negotiations with both parties, we have extended the time. The continuation and stability of the agreement is of vital importance,” Erdogan explained, according to the Turkish newspaper ‘Hürriyet ‘.
Erdogan made the announcement at a public event in Çanakkale, in western Turkey, in which he thanked Ukraine, Russia and the UN for their involvement.
The duration of this new extension is the subject of dispute between the Ukrainian and Russian authorities. Erdogan, in his announcement, did not give details about the duration of the extension but, shortly after and on his Twitter account, the Minister for Communities, Territorial Development and Infrastructure of Ukraine, Oleksandr Kubrakov, announced that the agreement will be extended for another 120 days, as requested by the Ukrainian authorities, compared to the 60 days proposed by Russia.
Shortly after, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, announced that the duration of the extension will be 60 days before criticizing Ukraine for misinforming about the extension.
“We are seeing information coming from the parties that the grain deal has been extended by 120 days. We have repeatedly stated, both the Ministry and Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN, that the Russian side has notified all parties to the deal that the extension will last 60 days”, the spokesperson assured in comments collected by Interfax in statements collected by EP.
“I repeat once again: all parties have received notice, orally and in writing, that Russia has agreed to a 60-day extension,” he insisted.
Turkish sources on condition of anonymity have also informed the Bloomberg agency that the extension of the agreement will only last 60 days.
The agreement has facilitated since July and until now the export of 24 million tons of cereals in more than 1,600 trips by merchant ships. 55 percent of this food has gone to developing countries.
The extension was welcomed by the spokesman for the UN Secretary General, Stephane Dujarric.
“We express our gratitude to the Government of Turkey for the diplomatic and operational support to the Black Sea Grain Initiative. The Black Sea Grain Initiative, together with the Memorandum of Understanding on the promotion of Russian food products and fertilizers in world markets , are essential for food security, especially for developing countries,” he said in a statement.