ADDS MORE REMARKS FROM TURKISH NATIONAL DEFENSE MINISTER HULUSI AKAR; REVISES HEAD, DECK
By Diyar Guldogan and Merve Aydogan
ANKARA (AA) - A grain-loaded ship that departed from the Ukrainian port of Odesa will be in Istanbul on Tuesday at 12 p.m. GMT, Turkish National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Monday.
"The ship will be anchored off the coast of Istanbul around 1500 (local time) for a joint inspection," Akar said at Anadolu Agency's Editors' Desk in the capital Ankara.
Akar's remarks came after the first grain-loaded ship departed from Ukraine's port of Odesa for Lebanon earlier on Monday. Loaded with corn, the Sierra Leone-flagged dry cargo ship Razoni will arrive in Istanbul on Tuesday, and it will continue on its way to the port of Tripoli following inspections in the Turkish metropolis. The ship is carrying a cargo of 26,527 tonnes of corn.
Akar said that the efforts on grain shipments from Ukraine will continue, adding that this matter is a "humanitarian issue."
"The next ships will continue likewise without any disruptions," he underlined.
Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed a deal on July 22 to reopen three Ukrainian ports -- Odesa, Chernomorsk, and Yuzhny -- for grain that has been stuck for months because of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, which is now in its sixth month.
To oversee Ukrainian grain exports, a joint coordination center in Istanbul was officially opened on Wednesday, comprising representatives from Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine to enable the safe transportation by merchant ships of commercial foodstuffs and fertilizers from the three key Ukrainian Black Sea ports.
Akar said the global food crisis had to be addressed, adding that it was "at a point where it can trigger migration. It may bring along a serious wave of migration from Africa to Europe and Türkiye."
On grains and chemicals awaiting shipment out of Russian ports, Akar said Türkiye would "be glad" to contribute on that issue as well.
- Türkiye's counter-terrorism efforts
Asserting that Türkiye would continue with its counter-terrorism operations resolutely, the minister said that a total of 2,226 terrorists had been "neutralized" this year alone.
Turkish authorities use "neutralize" to imply the terrorists in question surrendered or were killed or captured.
Akar underscored that there is no difference between the PKK terrorist organization and the YPG, its Syrian branch.
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the US, UK, and EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.
Türkiye's only aim is to protect its citizens' security and has "no eye" on any other country's territory, Akar said.
He added that the sole targets of Türkiye's counter-terrorism efforts are terrorists and pointed to the endeavors of its forces to ensure the security of local ethnic groups.
Akar also highlighted Türkiye's fight against the Daesh terror group, also known as ISIS, in both northern Syria and Iraq.
Ankara expects countries to understand that its only targets are terrorists, said Akar, adding: "We have made efforts to stabilize the region."
In 2013, Türkiye became one of the first countries to declare Daesh/ISIS a terrorist group.
The country has since been attacked by the terror group multiple times, with over 300 people killed and hundreds more injured in at least 10 suicide bombings, seven bomb attacks, and four armed assaults.
In response, Türkiye launched anti-terror operations at home and abroad to prevent further attacks.