22 Nov 2023 17:08

Slovak, Polish and Ukrainian truckers to hold talks on border situation

MOSCOW. Nov 22 (Interfax) - Truckers from Ukraine, Poland and Slovakia plan talks on Wednesday; if the talks end in failure and Polish truckers continue their protect then UNAS, Slovakia's union of truckers, will join them.

"In the event an agreement is not reached and Polish truckers continue to protest, the leadership of UNAS has decided to join these protests in Slovakia," Ukrainian media quoted UNAS as saying on social media.

According to UNAS, talks are also planned between the European Commission and government officials from Ukraine and Poland.

UNAS also said it had nothing to do with the blockade at the Vysne Nemecke border crossing point in Slovakia opposite Ukraine's Uzhgorod border post. According to the State Border Service of Ukraine, the blockade of this checkpoint began on November 21, and trucks were moving again early on November 22.

"This strike was not approved by the head of UNAS or UNAS General Assembly. As we said, UNAS, following the agreement reached with the Ukrainian ambassador to Slovakia, will await the talks between Ukraine, Poland and Slovakia. Then we will give our opinion on this matter," the union said.

Traffic through three checkpoints on the Ukrainian-Polish border has been partially blocked since November 6, due to a protest by Polish carriers. It was originally due to end on December 3, then January 3. The blockade of the Yagodin-Dorohousk crossing point on the Ukrainian-Polish border has been extended until February 1, 2024, Rafal Mekler, the leader of Polish truckers blocking the border, said on social media on Wednesday. He also announced the blockade's extension to the Medyka-Shegini border checkpoint starting November 23. "On Thursday, farmers will come to Medyka. We can do more together," Mekler said.

Ukrainian media said that according to the Ukrainian Restoration Ministry, 20,000 vehicles have been blocked on the Ukrainian-Polish border, and the truck traffic via these crossings has dropped by 20% to 25%.

The situation for the Ukrainian agro-industrial complex, which exports more than 70% of its agricultural products, is becoming dangerous in light of problems with transportation through Poland, Ukrainian First Deputy Agrarian Policy and Food Minister Taras Vysotsky said this week.

Bloomberg has reported that truckers from Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic intended to appeal to President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen to review the agreement with Ukraine on liberalizing freight transport terms, the so-called visa-free transport.

In their view the agreement, which is valid until June 2024, is seriously disrupting the market and causing irreparable damage to European carriers. They demanded that the agreement's term of validity be reduced or at least that guarantees be provided that it would not be extended.