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Ukraine's Zelensky urges 'solution to the situation on the Polish border'

04.03.2024 09:00
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for an urgent solution to ongoing protests by Polish farmers at the shared border.
Volodymyr Zelensky.
Volodymyr Zelensky. Photo: PAP/Viktor Kovalchuk

Polish farmers have blocked their country's border with Ukraine and disrupted traffic nationwide in an intensifying protest against what they say are unfair European Union policies leading to an influx of cheap agricultural products from Ukraine.

"We must finally find a solution to the situation on the Polish border, which has gone beyond both economics and morality long ago," Zelensky said in his daily video address on Sunday.

"It is simply impossible to explain how the hardships of a bleeding country can be used in domestic political struggles," he added, as cited by Ukrainian state news agency Ukrinform.

"However, we will pull through this too," Zelensky also said. "I am confident that Ukraine is able to withstand, achieve its goals and defeat Russian terror."

Zelensky said last month that the situation at the border with Poland demonstrated "the erosion of solidarity on a daily basis" as the war with Russia enters its third year.

"We need common decisions, rational decisions, to resolve this situation," he said at the time.

'Protesting farmers in Poland are not against Ukraine': PM

Poland's government has sympathized with the protesters' demands but also urged them not to take actions that could jeopardize Ukraine's war effort against Russia, news agencies have reported.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk told reporters last month that "the farmers' protest has a deep justification."

He said, as quoted by his office: "It is dramatic because part of the protest is taking place at the border with Ukraine. I want to emphasise that the protesting farmers in Poland are not against Ukraine. These are very often the same people who have helped in the last two years to refugees from Ukraine."

Tusk also said at the time that "Polish farmers are fighting for only one thing - to compete on equal terms."

He added: "We cannot help Ukraine and, at the same time, sacrifice the fundamental interests of Poles and Europeans. It is in the interests of Europe and Ukraine that everyone emerges victorious from this situation, in friendship and solidarity."

Tusk told the media: "I know that the protesting farmers are not anti-Ukrainian, there may be one or two incidents but we will deal with that."

Polish police said last month they were investigating an incident in which a load of rapeseed was spilled from a train carrying cargo from Ukraine.

Polish farmers protest at the Medyka border crossing with Ukraine on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024.Polish farmers protest at the Medyka border crossing with Ukraine. Photo: PAP/Darek Delmanowicz

The Polish protests come amid a wave of similar demonstrations in other EU countries and reflect broader discontent among agricultural producers across the bloc.

Farmers in France, Belgium, Portugal, Greece and Germany have been protesting against EU measures to tackle climate change as well as rising costs and unfair competition from abroad, the Reuters news agency has reported.

The protests across Europe come in the wake of an EU decision in 2022 to waive duties on Ukrainian food imports, according to Reuters.

Polish and Ukrainian government ministers are scheduled to meet for talks in Warsaw on March 28.


Source: Ukrinformpresident.gov.ua, IAR, PAP, Reuters