28 Nov 2023 13:36

Poland urges Ukraine to accept protesting truck drivers' demands

MOSCOW. Nov 28 (Interfax) - Polish Infrastructure Minister Andrzej Adamczyk has sent a letter to Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Kubrakov, in which he proposed Kiev to meet the demands of protesting Polish truck drivers, Ukrainian media reported, citing the Polish Infrastructure Ministry's statement published on its website.

The electronic queue system was behind the protests, among other reasons, Adamczyk said.

"This has resulted in a substantial increase in the waiting time for vehicles registered in the European Union, which are returning from Ukraine without cargo, to cross the Ukrainian-European border," Adamczyk was quoted as saying in the statement.

Adamczyk urged the Ukrainian side to take urgent measures to meet the Polish truck drivers' demands, in particular, drop the requirement to register in the electronic queue of vehicles at the two border checkpoints Zosin-Ustilug and Nizhankovichi-Malhovice.

In addition, the protesting truck drivers demand the reinstatement of international transportation permits for Ukrainian transport companies, which were canceled in accordance with the EU-Ukraine agreement (the so-called transport visa-free regime), the Polish Infrastructure Ministry said.

In this regard, Adamczyk asked European Commissioner for Transport Adina Valean to reinstate the validity of such permits. He also called on European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to support his address to the Ukrainian government to abolish the electronic queue system.

Polish truck drivers started partially blocking traffic via three checkpoints on the Ukrainian-Polish border, Yagodin-Dorohusk, Krakovets-Korczowa and Rava Russkaya-Hrebenne, on November 6. The protest was first expected to be held until December 3, but the date of January 3, 2024 was mentioned later. The blocking of the Yagodin-Dorohusk border checkpoint, where the longest queues of trucks are observed, was extended until February 1, 2024, Rafal Mekler, the leader of Polish truck drivers blocking the border, said on November 22.

On November 22, the blocking was extended to the fourth border checkpoint Shegini-Medyka, and the Ukrainian State Customs Service said later that the fifth checkpoint Nizhankovichi-Malhovice could be blocked, as well. The queues for entry into Ukraine in front of the blocked checkpoints from the Polish side stretched for up to 40 kilometers.

Given the problems with transportation via Poland, the situation for the Ukrainian agricultural sector, which exports more than 70% of its agricultural products, is alarming, Ukrainian First Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food Taras Vysotsky said last week.

One of the main demands put forward by the Polish protest organizers is to reinstate the practice of issuing permits for Ukrainian trucking companies and slash their number to the levels seen before February 2022, when up to 200,000 permits were issued per year. In addition, the truckers want empty Polish trucks returning from Ukraine to Poland to be able to cross the border without queuing and without waiting for many days. Polish haulers also demand that the rules for transportation under multilateral ECMT permits be tightened. In addition, the truckers seek stricter control over the registration of transportation companies in Poland in terms of the origin of the capital of their founders. The Ukrainian truckers' operations on the European market results in the collapse of freight transportation tariffs, a number of representatives of the Polish transport industry said.

Ukrainian truckers are shipping goods mainly from and to Ukraine, but not between European countries, Kiev said. Their operations cannot affect freight tariffs in Europe. At the same time, the Ukrainian side believes that most of the Polish truck drivers' demands are impossible to fulfill. Ukraine's negotiators expect a decision to unblock the border to be reached with a new Polish government, which took the oath of office on November 27, assuming office.