Turkey and Ukraine complete “technical phase” of preparations to resume grain exports

The Turkish government has announced the completion of the “technical phase” of preparations for the resumption of Ukrainian grain exports which could begin as early as next Monday, if the administrative formalities with the Russian authorities are resolved without further problems, according to a statement sent by the Turkish Defense Ministry and later confirmed by the Presidency.

“The technical work has been completed and it is planned to start shipments as soon as possible after administrative preparations,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has made known after the last conversation held with Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov and Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov.

All sides have declared their satisfaction with the so-called Joint Coordination Center, the body charged with monitoring that the resumption of Ukrainian grain exports occur without incident.

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The center is the result of an international agreement reached last week in Istanbul between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN, and whereby a coalition will oversee the loading of grain onto ships at the Ukrainian ports of Odessa, Chernomosk and Pivdenyi, before sailing a pre-planned route across the Black Sea.

Shortly afterwards, Ibrahim Kalin, the senior advisor and spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has advanced that the first ship could leave the Ukrainian port of Odessa even early this coming Monday, August 1.

“The ships are ready to leave the port of Odessa,” Kalin has declared to the Kanal 7 channel in an interview picked up by the ‘Hurriyet’ newspaper. Although the spokesman acknowledged that “some problems remain to be solved with the Russian side”, as well as details about the ships’ course, “if they are solved tonight, everything will be ready for the first ship to leave the port”, he added.

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The ships will cross the Black Sea to the Bosphorus Strait in Turkey, where this joint coordination center has been established in Istanbul, which includes representatives of the UN, Ukraine, Russia and Turkey. This center will also be responsible for screening ships entering Ukraine to ensure that they are not carrying weapons or combat materiel.

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