20 April, 2024
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Polish farmers blockading Ukraine border


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The unwillingness of the Ukrainian authorities to resolve this deadlock can be explained by the fact that “Poles feel economically dominated by Kiev,” Konrad Rekas, Polish politician and independent commentator, told Sputnik.

Tractors flying Polish flags blocked highways and major intersections at the country’s border crossings with Ukraine on Tuesday, part of weeks of protests by Polish farmers.

There are several major “blocks of issues” regarding the Polish farmers’ drive to stage mass cross-border protests, Konrad Rekas, Polish politician and independent commentator, said in an interview with Sputnik.k.

First and foremost, the protesters are unhappy with “preferential treatment of agricultural products imported from Ukraine on the Polish market, and as a result also to the EU market,” Rekas said.

He also noted that Poles are well aware that Ukraine’s agri-food production has been taken over by international corporations “or is still in the hands of cosmopolitan oligarchs, just as the so-called Ukrainian transport companies have owners in Germany or the Netherlands.”

“However, this does not change the fact that contaminated food (the infamous ‘technical flour’) often reaches Europe in uncontrolled quantities from Ukraine (often via Lithuania). Major foreign discount chains in Poland also already source basic products from Ukraine. In turn, the so-called Ukrainian transport companies are neither bound by the legal EU regulations regarding the minimum wage nor do they comply with health & safety principles,” the Polish commentator stressed.

Asked what Kiev’s reluctance to address the impasse says about the relationship between the two countries, Rekas argued that “Poles feel economically dominated by Kiev. He went on to say that over the past two years, Polish resources have been shrinking while “Ukrainians’ demands are growing.

“The average Pole no longer wants to shop in a European store for the Ukrainians, and we are horrified to see the falling incomes and rising costs of living of Poles. Ukrainians in Poland are free from these worries because the new Sejm extended the tax and social rights of Ukrainians in Poland until June. All this causes more and more Poles to raise the question: help for those in need – yes! Ukrainian privileges – never!” Rekas concluded.

Polish-Ukrainian relations deteriorated significantly last year due to the influx of Ukrainian grain into the EU. Poland, along with Slovakia and Hungary, unilaterally extended a ban on duty-free imports of Ukrainian grain after EU-imposed restrictions expired on September 15, 2023.

Ukraine responded by filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO). Ukrainian Deputy Economy Minister Taras Kachka said in late September that Kiev would withdraw its WTO complaint against the three EU countries if they provided guarantees that they would not restrict grain exports in the future.

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