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Activities of Secretary-General in Türkiye, 21–22 July

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres interrupted his annual leave to travel to Istanbul on the evening of Thursday, 21 July, to participate in the signing ceremony of the Black Sea Initiative which he had first proposed to the Russian Federation and Ukraine when he had visited both countries in April 2022.

On Friday morning, he met with the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, and the Secretary-General of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Rebeca Grynspan.

He then had a pre-recorded video interview with the BBC’s Orla Guerin.  This was followed by another pre-recorded video interview with the Turkish TV channel NTV.

In the afternoon, the Secretary-General met with the Minister for Infrastructure of Ukraine, Oleksandr Kubrakov.  He then attended a lunch hosted by the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

Later on, the Secretary-General met with the Russian delegation, led by Defense Minister Sergei Kuzhugetovich Shoigu.  During this meeting, the Secretary-General signed the Memorandum of Understanding agreed with the Russian delegation on promoting Russian food products and fertilizers to the world markets.

Following this meeting, the Secretary-General took part in the ceremony of the “Initiative on the Safe Transportation of Grain and Foodstuffs from Ukrainian Ports,” or Black Sea Initiative.  The initiative was signed consecutively in two copies (same text, in English), one by Türkiye-Ukraine and one by Türkiye-Russian Federation.  The Secretary-General signed both copies as a witness.

In his remarks, the Secretary-General said that the signing was a beacon of hope, of possibility and of relief in a world that needs it more than ever. 

He added that this is an agreement for the world that will bring relief for developing countries on the edge of bankruptcy and for the most vulnerable people on the edge of famine.  And it will help stabilize global food prices which were already at record levels even before the war — a true nightmare for developing countries.  (See Press Release SG/SM/21381.)

After the signing, the Secretary-General held a bilateral meeting with the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He then went back to his hotel where he had two live interviews, one with CNN’s Connect the World and one with Al Jazeera English.

The Secretary-General departed Istanbul on Friday evening.

For information media. Not an official record.