Turkey opens the UN coordination center for the implementation of the grain agreement

International27 Jul ’22 08:41Authorp: BNR Web Editors and ANP

Following the closure of the grain agreement between Ukraine and Russia, Turkey today opens a coordination center in Istanbul to oversee the safe transportation of Ukrainian grain by sea. The coordination center, also known as the ‘grain bureau’, opens with a small ceremony around 12:00. “Both the Russians and the Ukrainians have an interest in making this work. It won’t be comfortable, but practical cooperation will set the tone,” predicts Turkey correspondent Joost Lagendijk.

ZEEWOLDE - A farmer harvests his wheat.  ANP / Dutch Height / Sander Koning
ZEEWOLDE – A farmer harvests his wheat. ANP / Dutch Height / Sander Koning (ANP / Sander Koning)

According to Turkish media, the coordination center will be located on the campus of the National Defense University, about 7 kilometers north of downtown Istanbul. The center is said to be headed by a Turkish admiral. A total of twenty delegates would be employed. Contact will only be necessary in emergency situations between Ukrainians and Russians who are working separately from each other.

role distribution

According to Lagendijk, the roles of the parties are as follows: “Ukraine supplies the ships full of grain, which they guide through the pilotages. The Turks and the UN representatives must, above all, ensure that both the collection and the dispatch of these ships proceed without problems’.

According to Lagendijk, what could become ‘a big problem’ is that new ships must also be brought to the center ‘to collect grain that is still there. The Russians are very nervous that there may be weapons in the empty ships. So there will be a lot of checks on that.’

First read

According to the authorities in Ukraine, the first shipment of Ukrainian grain can already sail today from the port of Chernomorsk, on the southern outskirts of the Ukrainian city of Odessa. Under the supervision of the coordination center, the grain will be transported in the ships across the Black Sea to the Bosphorus, from where it will be marketed on the world market.

Also read | Worldwide joy in grain trade

According to Lagendijk, there are ‘all sorts of practical and political snags’ with the grain agreement. “And I think that, at least right now, both the Russians and the Ukrainians have an interest in it working. It won’t be fun, but practical cooperation will set the tone.’

Diplomatic prestige

It is particularly important for Erdogan that the agreement is properly respected, says Lagendijk. Erdogan has “put a lot of diplomatic prestige into that case.” “He has pushed it hard. It is seen here, but also in the rest of the world, as a Turkish success that it finally succeeded against many people’s skepticism. So it is very important that – now that the coordination center is here – that it here must go smoothly. If this doesn’t work, Turkey has put a lot of effort into something that won’t pay off. And that’s not good for Turkey’s prestige.’ In addition, Turkey has negotiated sanctions against Russia, but according to Lagendijk it is ‘no longer sustainable’ if the agreement is not properly respected. ‘They can no longer say: look at us, we are indispensable. So it is very important for Turkey and Erdogan, that this will work.’

Also read | Kiev and Moscow sign grain agreement with Turkey and the UN

Sochi

On August 5, Putin and Erdogan will meet in the southern Russian resort of Sochi. According to Lagendijk, two important topics will be on the agenda there. “First there will be an evaluation after about a week of a functioning or non-functioning grain store.” In addition, I believe that Erdogan will try – for the eighth time – in Sochi to get the green light for a possible invasion of Turkey in northern Syria. It has been going on for a long time.’ Russia, the US and Iran have so far always rejected this, says Lagendijk, ‘but Erdogan continues to talk about it. So I’m pretty sure he’ll discuss this topic after that.’

Also read | What effect are European sanctions really having on Russia?

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