Address by the Secretary-General to the press in Lviv, Ukraine Press conference [as delivered] – Ukraine
President Zelenskyy, let me start by thanking you and the people of Ukraine for hosting me once again during such a difficult time.
I am also very happy to be joined by President Erdoğan.
Just a few weeks ago, we were both in Istanbul for the signing of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a landmark agreement to help vulnerable people around the world.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I have been clear: there is no solution to the global food crisis without ensuring full global access to Ukrainian food products and Russian food and fertilizers.
I would like to express my gratitude to all parties for their support.
In less than a month, 21 ships left Ukrainian ports and 15 ships left Istanbul for Ukraine to stock up on grain and other food.
As we speak, more than 560,000 metric tons of grain and other foods produced by Ukrainian farmers are heading to markets around the world.
I am particularly pleased that the first UN-chartered ship carrying Ukrainian wheat is on its way to meet the needs of people suffering from the worst drought in the Horn of Africa in decades.
And as we speak, more than 560,000 metric tons of grain and other food produced by Ukrainian farmers is heading to markets around the world for the people there.
In the meantime – and critically – we have seen signs that global food markets are starting to stabilize.
Wheat prices fell 8% following the signing of the agreements.
The FAO Food Price Index fell 9% in July – the biggest drop since 2008.
Most foodstuffs now trade at prices below pre-war levels, but still very high.
But let’s have no illusions, there is still a long way to go before this translates into people’s daily lives in their local bakery and in their markets.
Supply chains are still disrupted.
Energy and transport costs remain at unacceptable levels.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The positive momentum on the food front reflects a victory for diplomacy – for multilateralism – for people grappling with a cost of living crisis – and for hard-working Ukrainian farmers.
But this is only the beginning. I urge all parties to ensure continued success.
This is an unprecedented agreement and, in my experience, by their very nature, initiatives in conflict situations are inherently fragile.
They must be constantly fed.
From day one, the parts of the TCG [Joint Coordination Center] have worked professionally and in good faith to keep the food flowing.
I appeal to them to continue this and to overcome all obstacles in a spirit of compromise and settle all difficulties once and for all.
Getting more food and fertilizer out of Ukraine and Russia is crucial to further calm commodity markets and lower prices.
Helping the most vulnerable people and countries is essential.
And it is vital to help reverse the turmoil in the global fertilizer market that now threatens next season’s crops, including rice, the world’s most consumed staple.
In the meantime, the United Nations will continue to work in full solidarity with the people of Ukraine to mobilize all our capacities and resources – alongside our national partners – to continue to provide humanitarian assistance to people in need wherever it is. necessary.
We will do our best to intensify our operations in order to face the difficulties of the coming winter.
Ladies and gentlemen,
But, of course, the heart of the problem that brings us here remains war.
As I have said many times, this invasion is a violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the Charter of the United Nations.
The war has resulted in countless deaths, mass destruction and displacement, as well as dramatic violations of human rights.
People need peace.
Peace in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.
Peace in accordance with international law.
I remain gravely concerned about developments in and around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia.
Common sense must prevail to avoid any action likely to endanger the physical integrity, safety or security of the nuclear power plant.
The installation must not be used in the context of a military operation.
Instead, an agreement is urgently needed to restore Zaporizhhia as a purely civilian infrastructure and to ensure the security of the area.
In close contact with the IAEA, the UN Secretariat has assessed that we have in Ukraine the logistical and security capacity to support any IAEA mission to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant from Kyiv, provided that Russia and Ukraine agree.
Military equipment and personnel should be removed from the factory.
Any further deployment of forces or equipment to the site should be avoided.
The area must be demilitarized.
We have to tell it like it is – any potential damage to Zaporizhzhia is suicide.
Today I also spoke about the investigation into the tragic incident that took place in a detention center in Olenivka on 29 July.
What happened there is unacceptable. All prisoners of war are protected by international humanitarian law.
The International Committee of the Red Cross must have access to them wherever they are.
I decided to establish a fact-finding mission.
The terms of reference for the mission were shared with Ukraine and the Russian Federation, as well as the composition of the team. I intend to appoint General Carlos dos Santos Cruz of Brazil to lead this mission.
General Santos Cruz is a respected officer with more than 40 years of national and international military and public security experience, including as a commander of UN peacekeeping operations.
We will now continue to work to obtain the necessary assurances to ensure safe access to Olenivka and any other relevant locations.
To put it simply, a fact-finding mission must be free to ascertain the facts.
The team must be able to collect and analyze the necessary information.
Above all, this means safe, secure and unfettered access to people, places and evidence, without interference from anyone.
We will continue to do all we can to advance these and other efforts that meet the needs of the Ukrainian people.
Once again, my thanks to President Zelensky and the people of Ukraine for your hospitality.
You can continue to count on the support of the United Nations to promote human rights, international law and the cause of peace.