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Blocking of Ukraine’s border: Polish government agrees with hauliers to end protest

16 January, 2024 Tuesday
15:43

Polish hauliers, who have been blocking border crossings with Ukraine since November, have reached an agreement with the government on certain requirements and will stop their protest

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Reuters reports this.

According to the agreement, the protest will end on Wednesday at 1 p.m. Kyiv time. 

"This is not the end, but the protest will be suspended... We have agreed on certain conditions, we will give the government time to work, because it is a new government," said Tomasz Borkowski of the Committee for the Protection of Transport Carriers and Employers.

Poland's Infrastructure Ministry organized a press conference on Tuesday, during which an agreement with the carriers is to be signed.

According to Polish Infrastructure Minister Dariusz Klimczak, quoted by TVN24, the Ministry of Infrastructure signed an agreement with the hauliers on Tuesday. He emphasized that the agreement does not mean the end of the dialogue, but "intensive negotiations."

"This protest is interdisciplinary. It affects many areas of international politics and domestic policy. The complexity and intricacy of the issues led to negotiations and work lasting more than a month. The protest will be terminated by March 1," the minister said, adding that constructive negotiations are now starting, "which are expected to bring concrete results."

At the same time, protest leader Rafal Mekler promised to "return to the border" if the demands are not met.

Strikes on the Polish-Ukrainian border: what is known

On November 6, Polish carriers initiated a strike at the border. The Ministry of Infrastructure noted that no official demands had been submitted by the Polish carriers to Kyiv.

On November 9, a meeting of government officials and carriers blocking the border with Ukraine took place in Poland, but it concluded without any resolution. Simultaneously, the lines of trucks are growing longer. Consequently, Ukraine has suggested to the Polish authorities the initiation of lanes for empty trucks and is currently awaiting their response.

On November 15, trilateral talks with Poland and the European Commission on unblocking the crossing points took place, but they did not yield any results. Instead, the European Commission may initiate measures against Poland if the authorities do not resolve the issue of carriers blocking checkpoints on the border with Ukraine.

Polish carriers have promised to tighten the blockade on the border with Ukraine. In addition, customs officers have begun to record an increase in truck queues in the Slovak direction.

Ukraine and Poland are preparing claims for damages caused by the blockade of border crossing points due to the rally of Polish carriers. In addition, it has been reported that Polish carriers are not allowing humanitarian aid and dangerous goods to pass through.

According to Volodymyr Balin, vice president of the Association of International Road Carriers, Polish carriers are violating the terms of the strike, which could help to get it called off. At the same time, the Ukrainian economy has already suffered losses of more than €400 million.

Meanwhile, the Polish government has called on Ukraine to cancel the e-queue registration for empty trucks. Poland’s Minister of Agriculture also met with the protesters and offered them a compromise solution.

On December 1, the blocked Ukrainian drivers at the Polish border held talks with the consul. On December 4, the Uhryniv-Dolhobyczów border crossing point opened to empty trucks.

On December 4, the EU Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council (TTE) will discuss the situation with the blockade on the Polish-Ukrainian border.

As a result of the protesters' blocking of the border with Ukraine, exports through these checkpoints decreased by 40%, and the state budget of Ukraine lost UAH 9.3 billion due to a shortfall in customs payments. 

Later it became known that the trucks blocked on the border with Poland would be returned to Ukraine by rail. On the evening of December 7, Ukrainian Railways sent the first container train with trucks to Poland, consisting of 23 platforms with 13 loaded tractors and semi-trailers.

On December 11, truck traffic was unblocked at the Polish-Ukrainian border through the Yahodyn-Dorohusk checkpoint. 

The European Commission called for the unblocking of all checkpoints on the border with Poland.

On December 14, the mayor of the Polish commune of Dorohusk, Wojciech Sawa, did not allow carriers to block the Yahodyn-Dorohusk checkpoint on the border with Ukraine.

However, on December 15, the District Court in Lublin has overturned the ban of Wojciech Sawa, head of the Dorohusk Commune

On December 18, Polish farmers from the United Village union said they would join the border blockade in Dorohusk, starting on Monday, December 18

On Saturday, December 23, Polish farmers suspended their protests at the Shehyni-Medyka border crossing point. The new Polish government said it would hold talks with the protesters.

On January 4, they resumed the blockade of the border crossing and said they planned to protest until February 3.

Deputy Minister of Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development Serhiy Derkach said that Ukraine has fulfilled its part of the action plan agreed with the Polish government to unblock the border with Ukraine by Polish carriers. Now Kyiv is waiting for further steps from Warsaw.

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