The eyes and ears of the world were on Ankara. Everyone had placed their hopes on the mediation conducted by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for a solution to the grain crisis. And the expected statement came from Erdoğan himself. The good news was made public to the world during the president's ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) group meeting on Wednesday, through the words uttered by Erdoğan himself:
"Now to the new good news... After my meeting with Mr. (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, I will meet with Mr. (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelenskyy today as well. Russian Defense Minister (Sergei) Shoigu called our Minister of National Defense (Hulusi) Akar and stated that as of 12 p.m. today, grain shipments will continue like before."
The secret of two successive diplomatic victories in solving the grain crisis is actually hidden in these two statements:
“We will continue in accordance with the agreement between the United Nations and Türkiye on the Black Sea grain agreement.”
“Erdoğan is a leader who keeps his word. Coming to terms with him can be tough. However, after agreeing and shaking hands, he stands by his promise. Choosing Türkiye as a new distribution center for natural gas also depends on this.”
The first sentence belongs to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy while the second was uttered by Russian leader Putin.
Consider that two leaders stand on opposite sides of a war and one of their rare common points is their positive attitude toward Türkiye.
Let's get back to beginning to understand today's victory. You may remember that the grain shipment agreement, carried out under the coordination of Türkiye, for the transport of tens of thousands of tons of grain stuck in the silos in Ukraine to the world, was signed between Ukraine, Russia, Türkiye and the U.N. on July 22, in Istanbul under the auspices of President Erdoğan. Through the coordination center in Istanbul, hundreds of ships carrying grain sailed from the Black Sea with the agreement between Russia and Ukraine and reached the global market through the Turkish Straits. To give the exact figure, 9.2 million tons of grain were transported by 408 ships thanks to the agreement. Some 47% of the delivered grains went to Europe, 20% to Asia, 16% to Türkiye, 13% to Africa and 4% to the Middle East.
Erdoğan was once again appreciated for his mediation role. In this period, when food inflation shook the whole world, he became the hope of millions who struggled to put bread on their table.
But an attack turned all eyes to Ankara again. The deal was suspended by Russia on Oct. 29. Moscow announced its decision to the world with the following statement, "The movement along the security corridor determined by the Black Sea Initiative has been suspended until the situation regarding the terrorist act of Ukraine against warships and civilian ships in Sevastopol on Oct. 29 becomes clear."
After this statement of Russia, Ankara was always diplomatically active, and it operated the shuttle diplomacy effectively. Both President Erdoğan, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Defense Minister Akar were in intensive consultation with the parties.
Perhaps the most important of these contacts was between Erdoğan and Putin, as might have been expected. After the phone call, the international press closely followed the statements made from both the Kremlin and Ankara. During the meeting, Erdoğan conveyed to Putin that he was confident they would establish a solution-oriented cooperation on grain shipments.
Plus, it happened as he said. Hours after this meeting, President Erdoğan announced to the global community that cooperation was established. In other words, Turkey once again became the hope of the world and managed to meet global expectations.
Among all the statements made during the diplomatic traffic, it is worth underlining the following words of Akar: "The ships that have left the Ukrainian ports continue on their way. There is no problem with regards to Turkish-flagged ships leaving there."
Just imagine, while the whole world was brooding over the possible consequences should the grain crisis worsen, Turkish ships continued to carry grain even in the midst of the crisis. Why? Because, being a powerful state brings along such requirements.