Türkiye plays ‘critical leadership role' in averting global food crisis: US envoy

Türkiye plays ‘critical leadership role' in averting global food crisis: US envoy

Jeffry Flake highlights importance of Türkiye’s global leadership, citing its negotiation of Black Sea Grain Initiative

By Handan Kazanci

ISTANBUL (AA) – Türkiye will continue to play a “critical leadership role in advocating for global food security,” US Ambassador Jeffry Flake said Tuesday, citing its negotiation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI).

“The BSGI has alleviated suffering and hunger around the world. The American people extend their thanks to Türkiye, the United Nations, and all other countries working to ensure that the world has enough food to eat,” Flake wrote in an op-ed published by the US embassy’s website.

“The success of the BSGI not only demonstrated the crucial role that Türkiye plays in world events, but also Türkiye’s willingness to stand up and do what’s right for the global community,” he said.

“During my tenure as the U.S. Ambassador in Türkiye, I have seen the importance of Türkiye’s global leadership, including the negotiation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

“Brokered between Türkiye, Ukraine, Russia and the United Nations, this agreement ensured some of the most vulnerable people on earth had access to food,” he added.

Since the first ship sailed in August last year, nearly 33 million metric tons of Ukrainian grain and foodstuffs have been delivered to global markets, Flake said.

He said that 65% of those agricultural products went to developing countries, supporting global food security and stability.

Russia suspended its participation in the BSGI on July 17 this year. The deal was signed in July 2022 following mediation by the UN and Türkiye in a bid to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports that had been placed under a blockade by Russia after it began its war in February of that year.

“The BSGI would be unnecessary were it not for (Russian) President Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine,” Flake said. “This is a war waged on innocent civilians with egregious disregard for human life, including targeting children and committing atrocious war crimes like sexual assault, torture and extrajudicial executions.”

“Estimates indicate that over a quarter of a million Ukrainian children have been abducted; forcibly separated from their families before being put up for adoption in Russia,” he added.

He also blamed Putin for “weaponizing food” and said he “has spread suffering far beyond Ukraine’s borders, extending hunger to the developing world, where it will be felt most acutely.”

“Russia’s actions place millions at risk,” he said. ”Moscow’s withdrawal from the BSGI; its attacks against Ukrainian civilian infrastructure, including grain terminals in the Black Sea and on the Danube; and its aggression against civilian traffic in the Black Sea needlessly exacerbate food insecurity around the world.”

Flake said that Moscow’s “excuses for withdrawing are just that, excuses; their fertilizer exports and their grain exports were at or near all-time highs while the BSGI was in effect.”

“Russia’s decision to abandon the BSGI raises the price it receives for its food exports, increasing its profit while forcing the rest of the world to grapple with higher food prices and exposing the most vulnerable to even greater risk of going hungry,” he said.

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