U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said before signing documents as part of an initiative to transport grain and food safely from Ukrainian ports that "the focus of the preparation process was on what matters most to the people of the world.
"It will bring relief to developing countries on the brink of bankruptcy and to the most vulnerable people on the brink of starvation. And it will help stabilize world food prices, which were already at record levels before the war," he said Friday in Istanbul.
"In particular, the initiative that we have just signed opens the door to significant commercial food exports from three key Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea - Odesa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny," he said. At the same time, he stressed that "the shipment of grain and food stocks to world markets will help close the global food supply gap and reduce pressure on prices.
The U.N. secretary general acknowledged that "this agreement has not been easy." "From the beginning of the war, I emphasized that there is no solution to the global food crisis without full global access to Ukrainian food and Russian food and fertilizers. Today we have taken important steps to achieve this goal, but it has been a long road," he noted.
He said, "We are counting on the Turkish government to maintain its crucial role in the future, and I may add that I can assure you that the United Nations will continue to be actively involved in working for the success of the agreement. We are stepping up our efforts to ensure that the UN can fulfill its obligations."
He also announced the creation of a joint focal point to monitor the implementation of the Black Sea initiatives.
According to Guterres, the initiative has "a task force led by Secretary of Staff Rebecca Greenspan focused on facilitating unhindered access to world markets for food and fertilizers produced in the Russian Federation."
"This is an unprecedented agreement between two parties involved in a bloody conflict. But the conflicts continue, and people are dying every day, and fighting rages every day. The beacon of hope on the Black Sea shines brightly today because of the collective efforts of many people," he said.