Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will visit Russia soon to discuss the collapsed United Nations deal that had allowed Black Sea exports of Ukrainian grain, a spokesperson for Turkey’s ruling AK Party said Monday.
Omer Celik, the AK Party spokesperson, said Erdogan would visit Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi “soon” but did not specify whether he would meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“After this visit there may be developments and new stages may be reached regarding” the grain deal, he told reporters.
The Kremlin said Friday there was an understanding the two leaders will meet in person soon.
Bloomberg cited two anonymous sources in reporting that Erdogan is expected to meet Putin in Russia next week, possibly on Sept. 8, before he travels to a G20 meeting in India.
Turkish sources reported that after Foreign Affairs Minister Hakan Fidan’s visit to Kyiv, Ankara began formulating a compromise to open up the grain corridor from Ukraine to the Straits. Ankara source told Hurriyet that Turkey will not concede to uni-lateral deals with Ukraine or Russia.
However, the Putin- Erdogan meeting is most likely futile, because a few days after the announcement of the visit by Erdogan to Putin, Russian press reported Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan will discuss a proposal by Moscow for an alternative to the Black Sea grain deal when they meet this week, Lavrov’s ministry said on Wednesday.
Under the plan, Russia would send a million tons of grain to Turkey at a discounted price, with financial support from Qatar, to be processed in Turkey and sent to countries most in need, the Foreign Ministry said.
“We consider this project as the optimal working alternative to the Black Sea deal,” it said.
This is a re-hashing of an old proposal floated by Kremlin a month ago, which Turkey refused.
Ankara would risk pressure from US and EU to provide similar facilities to Ukraine, which will have to be routed through the lengthy and cumbersome coastal Romania-Bulgaria sea route.
Ankara had also turned down a non-official request by US for her navy to defend Ukrainian grain shipments.
The Erdogan administration is extremely wary of the Black Sea channel for cooking oil, grain and fertilizer exports being blocked, because Turkey has become a large importer of these commodities and price spikes would impair efforts to tame the run-away current account deficit.
Comments by PA Turkey Staff.
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