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Ukraine proposes Poland 5 steps to unblock border — Prime Ministers’ meeting results

29 March, 2024 Friday

The Ukrainian delegation arrived in Poland on Thursday, March 28: following a meeting between Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and his Polish counterpart Donald Tusk, Ukraine proposed five steps to unblock the border for agricultural products’ transit

The Ukrainian Prime Minister wrote about this on Telegram.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk met the representatives of Ukraine. 

"We are starting our visit to Poland with a meeting with Prime Minister Donald Tusk. We will coordinate our issues before the joint meeting of the governments. We will talk about weapons for Ukraine, the situation on the border of our countries, the development of trade and infrastructure. We are counting on a pragmatic and constructive dialog and the development of effective solutions," Shmyhal wrote. 

The governments of Ukraine and Poland hold talks

Later, Denys Shmyhal said that government representatives had held another round of Ukrainian-Polish government consultations.

"Ukraine and Poland are strategic allies. We must clearly understand how important mutual support and the potential of our cooperation are. We discussed a number of issues of mutual interest in our cooperation. We paid a lot of attention to complex topics such as the situation at the border and trade in the agricultural sector. We understand how we will move forward," he wrote.

The head of the Ukrainian government also noted that Ukraine expects Poland to respond to the proposed steps. Most of them have already been implemented. 

"We expect the European Commission to ban the transit and export of goods from Russia and Belarus, as well as to approve our agreement on joint control at checkpoints. Strategic relations involve mutual trust and openness, the ability to engage in dialogue and compromise. We hope that today's consultations will bring results and we will find ways to resolve problematic issues," Shmyhal said. 

Ukraine proposes five steps to unblock the Ukrainian-Polish border for agricultural products

The Prime Minister of Ukraine also said that after consultations, Ukraine had offered Poland a plan to unblock the border. In particular, it compromised and agreed to the restrictions and safeguards proposed by the European Commission regarding agricultural exports. The Ukrainian side also appealed to the European Commission with a proposal to conduct an urgent analysis of legislation in agricultural policy and transport.

"We have a decision of the European Commission on the priority screening of the section on agricultural policy. We expect this to happen at the end of April," said Shmyhal. 

He emphasized that Russian and Belarusian agricultural exports to the EU must stop and thanked the Polish government and the Sejm for adopting the relevant appeal to the European Commission.

"Our voice was heard in Brussels. The European Commission has proposed to introduce a 50% increase in duties on agricultural products from Russia and Belarus, including grain imports. The new rates should actually stop this trade," the Prime Minister said. 

In addition, Ukraine proposed to create an anti-crisis headquarters to help establish regular interaction between the ministers of agriculture and economy. Poland was also asked to provide free cross-border passage for ammunition, humanitarian aid, and fuel. 

"We have positive trends and dynamics in unblocking the border. It is important to maintain this momentum and move forward," Shmyhal emphasized. 


Ukrainian Prime Minister met with Polish President Duda

"During my visit to Warsaw, I thanked Polish President Andrzej Duda for his decisive and significant personal contribution to supporting Ukraine," Shmyhal wrote

He said that he had discussed with the Polish president assistance to Ukraine with weapons and joining efforts to integrate Ukraine into NATO and the EU.

"We appreciate Poland's support for Volodymyr Zelenskyy's Peace Formula. We are working together to strengthen Ukraine's security and defeat the Russian aggressor," Shmyhal summarized.


Commentary by Mykola Solskyi, Minister of Agrarian Policy of Ukraine

Minister of Agrarian Policy of Ukraine Mykola Solskyi said on the United News telethon that Ukraine is twice as close to unblocking the border after negotiations with Poland, which were attended by farmers.

"Today, in my opinion, we are definitely twice as close to unblocking the borders as we were yesterday before lunch," the minister said.

According to him, there is still much ground to cover. That's why Solskyi refrained from making any predictions. However, the minister mentioned that new discussions on unblocking the border are scheduled. These talks will occur in a smaller setting next week, followed by a broader format the following month.

On March 27, Minister of Agrarian Policy of Ukraine Mykola Solskyi met with his Polish counterpart Czesław Siekierski and Polish farmers. The primary focus of the discussion was the unblocking of the Ukrainian border. Specifically, the parties delved into the conditions regarding food imports from Ukraine to Poland and its transit. Solskyi provided a summary of the meeting, noting that they had explored potential solutions to the issue, with announcements expected soon.

What is known about the protests on the Ukrainian-Polish border

On February 7, Polish farmers sent an official notice to resume strikes on the border with Ukraine. The blocking of the Dorohusk-Yahodyn checkpoint began on February 9. The protest was approved by local authorities until March 9.

Earlier, the Polish farmers' union Solidarity announced a general strike across the country on February 9. At the time, it was noted that it would begin with the blockade of all checkpoints on the border with Ukraine, as well as the blocking of roads and highways in certain regions.

The reason for the resumption of the protests is simple: according to one of the organizers of the action, Roman Kondruv, it is because the authorities have done nothing about the problems of technical grain from Ukraine since the previous actions.

On February 12, at the Ukrainian-Polish border, near the Yaрodyn-Dorohusk checkpoint, Poles poured grain from Ukrainian trucks onto the ground.

On February 20, they promised to block all border crossings with Ukraine for a month. Ukrainian carriers held their own peaceful protest in response to the actions of Polish farmers. The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine stated that it had not received any information from the Polish side regarding the complete blocking of the border. In response to the Polish blockade, Ukrainian carriers are preparing a protest at three checkpoints.

On February 20, Polish farmers on the border with Ukraine blocked the railroad and poured grain out of a freight car. Later it turned out that it was headed to Germany.

On the evening of February 20, Polish protesters eased traffic restrictions near the border with Ukraine at two checkpoints, including Hrebenne-Rava-Ruska, and began allowing cars to pass through.

Poland's Consul General in Lviv condemned the border blockade and apologized to Ukraine, and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal later said that Ukraine and Poland were "ready for reasonable compromises" on negotiations on the situation on the border.

Polish protesters temporarily stopped blocking the Ustyluh-Zosyn checkpoint after blocking it the day before.

On February 25, Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal said that Poland had already brought the first offenders on the Ukrainian-Polish border to justice, and that they faced imprisonment.

On March 4, it was reported that Ukraine had lost about UAH 8 billion in customs payments, and businesses had lost more than EUR 1.5 billion due to border blockades by Polish protesters.

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