Poland snubs border meeting with Ukraine to end farmer protests

Poland snubs border meeting with Ukraine to end farmer protests
Poland snubs border meeting with Ukraine to end farmer protests

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Ukrainian truck drivers take part in a protest against the blockade of the border by the Polish protesters at the Rava-Ruska border crossing point of the Ukrainian-Polish border, with trucks bannered with messages and Ukrainian flags February 20, 2024, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. — AFP pic

LVIV, Feb 24 — Ukraine’s prime minister went to the border with Poland yesterday hoping to end weeks of protests by Polish farmers but he said no one from the neighbouring government turned up for talks.

Polish authorities said they had never agreed to a border meeting and there was no end in sight to the protests that Ukraine says threatens its exports and is holding up deliveries of crucial weapons for its war against Russia.

“Unfortunately, Polish government officials did not come,” said Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal, who led a delegation to the border.

“But we publicly appealed to them, gave our proposals, and will continue this work.”

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Shmygal said Ukraine was in contact with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and reiterated that the crisis needed to be resolved “as soon as possible”.

Poland is a strong ally of Ukraine in its war against Russia, but the farm tensions have soured relations in recent weeks.

The farmers began blocking three border crossings this month in anger at the cheap prices charged for Ukrainian grain and other produce.

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Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky proposed the frontier meeting and he issued a statement saying Ukraine’s grain did not go to the Polish market “at the request of the Polish side”.

He added: “We are willing and will do everything to resolve this issue.”

But Tusk’s chief of staff Jan Grabiec told AFP that Warsaw had not sent a delegation because a meeting “makes no sense at the moment”.

He said the two sides were “far” from a deal to end the showdown.

“Unfortunately, there is not yet a Ukrainian proposition that allows to hope for an end to the deadlock in commercial relations.”

The government in Warsaw has been trying not to antagonise Polish farmers and Tusk told reporters on Thursday that the negotiations were ongoing.

He said the two governments would hold a meeting in Warsaw on March 28 and it was “better to continue these talks at the technical, organisational level”.

On Friday, Polish police said grain from Ukraine had been spilled on a Polish railway close to the border — the second such incident this week. — AFP

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