ANKARA: Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's ultra-ambitious president, is planning to make Ankara into key player in ending the global food crisis by interacting with both Russia and Ukraine.
Turkey, which has boasted for months that it is "the only country north of the Black Sea that retains close connections with both of the warring sides," is now considering hosting a United Nations "Control Centre" in Istanbul, which could help defuse the Russia-Ukraine issue.
On Monday, Erdogan made back-to-back calls to his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts, Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelenskyy, insisting that Ankara had made every effort to keep the Ukraine-Russia talks going. He told Zelenskyy that Turkey places a high priority on the project of building a secure sea corridor for the export of Ukrainian agricultural products, and that Turkey is ready "from now on" to provide "whatever needed assistance," including mediation.
"President Erdogan also stated that Turkey would be interested in joining the Control Center that will be established with the participation of the UN as well as the parties, and hosting the centre in Istanbul," Erdogan's office said in a statement following the phone chat.
When discussing the situation in Ukraine with Erdogan, Putin, on the other hand, emphasised the importance of guaranteeing safe navigation in the Black and Azov Seas and eliminating the mine threat in their seas in order to unclog trade from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.