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Belgium welcomes the renewal, on 18 March 2023, of the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI), signed on 22 July 2022 by the United Nations, the Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine. This initiative is part of international efforts, in which Belgium participates, to counter the dramatic effects of the Russian aggression against Ukraine on world food security.
The Russian aggression has indeed aggravated the global food crisis through the bombardment of energy, water and transport infrastructure, as well as the blocking of grain and fertilizer exports from Ukraine. These circumstances have severely reduced the availability of and accessibility to food globally, increased prices and put many low-income countries in an even more vulnerable situation.
In this context, the renewal of the BSGI is a positive development for these vulnerable partners. Nevertheless, the Russian disinformation campaign seeks to reverse the responsibilities: it is the Russian aggression against Ukraine that caused the aggravation of the food crisis and not the sanctions adopted by the European Union (EU) as claimed by Russia. The sanctions adopted by the EU do not target trade in agricultural and food products, nor in fertilizers between third countries and Russia.
Quite the opposite. Belgium, in close cooperation with UN institutions, and its European and southern partners, actively contributes to addressing the food security crisis on several levels:
- Belgium is actively and fully cooperating with the BSGI which was established through the facilitation of the UN Secretary General and aims at facilitating agri-food exports from Ukrainian ports.
- Belgium is also participating in the "Grain From Ukraine" initiative, launched by Kiev, with a 10 million euro contribution. This allows Ukrainian cereals to be exported to southern partners. Belgium was the first country to support this initiative, paving the way for other countries to do the same.
- The EU, through various “Team Europe” initiatives, is committed to addressing the food crisis and strains on world markets in the short, medium and long term. This in particular through the establishment of “Solidarity Lanes”, by road and rail, which are mainly aimed at bringing Ukrainian grain exporters and European entrepreneurs into contact at the logistical level.
- Belgian development cooperation also contributes to the fight against food insecurity through flexible and un-earmarked contributions to humanitarian aid and contributions to programmes aimed at supporting the transformation towards more sustainable food systems, as well as fighting the food crisis in the least developed countries (LDC).
- In a context of scarcity, Belgium works closely with the United Nations, in particular the World Food Program (WFP), in order to facilitate the transport of fertilizer components belonging to Russian companies, present in Belgian ports, towards countries that are needing them the most. Belgium therefore strongly rejects accusations made by Russia against our country and other European partners as to who is responsible for blocking these fertilizers.
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