Address by the Secretary-General to the press in Odessa, Ukraine – Ukraine

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António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations First of all, I would like to greet the Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov.

His wisdom, skill and determination were essential for an agreement to finally be reached between the United Nations, Turkey and Ukraine and, on the other hand, the United Nations, Turkey and the Russian Federation.

It is very moving for me to be here today in Odessa.

I just saw wheat being loaded into a ship again.

This is obviously cause for joy. But it’s also moving because of the sadness I feel looking into this beautiful port and looking at these practically empty terminals with the possibility that this port will have to develop that Ukraine and the whole region will be cut off because of the war.

As I said, it is moving to be here in Odessa and it is particularly important to be here on the occasion of World Humanitarian Day.

For months, the port was paralyzed.

Ships like these were minutes away from sailing fully laden with grain and other cargo.

A critical transmission line to a global breadbasket has been cut.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative is changing that.

In less than a month, 25 ships left Odessa and other Ukrainian ports loaded with grain and other supplies. Others are on the way, as the Minister explained.

They transported more than 600,000 tons of food products and counting.

Wheat. Corn. Sunflower oil. Soybeans.

But every ship is also a ship of hope.

The hope for Ukrainian farmers has finally been rewarded for their harvest – storage being freed up for more.

A hope for seafarers and the wider maritime community, knowing that it is once again possible to navigate the Black Sea safely and efficiently.

And, above all, hope for the world’s most vulnerable people and countries.

Here from Odessa on World Humanitarian Day, I want to make a special appeal to the wealthier world for those bearing the brunt of the global food crisis.

As these ports open, I call on the wealthiest countries to also open their wallets and their hearts.

After all, grain movement means little to countries that cannot afford it.

Lower prices in global food markets mean little if those prices are not reflected in local food markets.

A country cannot feed itself if it lacks resources.

It’s time for massive and generous support so that developing countries can buy food from this port and others – and people can buy it.

Developing countries must have access to finance — now.

They need debt relief — now.

They need resources to invest in their people – now.

And we all need to do more to ensure full global access to Ukrainian food products and Russian food products and fertilizers.

It’s not easy, but nothing about this initiative is easy.

No one expected smooth sailing.

It is an agreement between two parties locked in a bitter war.

It is of unprecedented scope and scale.

But there is still a long way to go on many fronts.

Getting more food and fertilizer out of Ukraine and Russia is crucial to further calm commodity markets and lower prices.

But let’s not forget that what we see here in Odessa is only the most visible part of the solution.

The other part which is also important, which we have defended, concerns unimpeded access to the world markets of Russian food and fertilizers, which are not subject to sanctions.

It is important that all governments and the private sector work together to bring them to market.

Without fertilizer in 2022, there may not be enough food in 2023.

I am deeply committed to these goals, but that will only happen if all parties cooperate.

I am here in Odessa to salute the work done – and to urge that these efforts continue.

Continue to help provide much-needed relief for global food security.

Continue to improve the global food supply and stabilize markets.

And continue to improve the well-being of the most vulnerable, especially those trapped in the most fragile humanitarian contexts.

Let us spare no effort to maintain this vital effort and work for peace.

A peace in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and international law.

Take inspiration from Odessa.

Today, Odessa is more than just an expedition center.

This port is a symbol of what the world can do when we commit to working together for the common good.

The Ukrainian people have suffered so much. They have seen so many deaths, so much destruction that it is legitimate to aspire to peace.

But again, I repeat peace in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, peace in accordance with international law.

It’s the best way to mark World Humanitarian Day and help pave the way to a more just and peaceful world for all.


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