5 Dec 2023 13:02

Blockade of automobile border checkpoint on Ukraine-Slovakia border has been suspended - Ukrainian authorities

MOSCOW. Dec 5 (Interfax) - The blockade of the Uzhgorod - Vysne Nemecke checkpoint on the Ukraine-Slovakia border has been suspended, and trucks are being allowed through as usual, Ukrainian media reported, citing an announcement from Ukrainian Deputy Minister for Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development, Sergei Derkach.

"The blockade of the checkpoint with Slovakia has been suspended. The passage of trucks through Uzhgorod - Vysne Nemecke is occurring as usual. We are continuing to work with our Slovak colleagues to prevent further protests," Derkach posted on social media.

The European Commission does not plan to make changes to the current agreement on the liberalization of freight transport with Ukraine, the so-called transport visa-free, but, on the contrary, is actually ready to defend it, he said, citing European Commissioner for Transport Adina Valean.

"In order for all this news to take place, and for 'transport visa-free' to be maintained and extended, I am working with the team from Ukraine's Ministry of Development of Communities, Territories and Infrastructure headed by Alexander Kubrakov, doing a lot of non-public work and communicating with our partners," Derkach added.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmygal and his Slovak counterpart Robert Fico discussed issues concerning restoration, the energy sector and the development of border infrastructure.

"We count on Slovak companies' participation in various fields of Ukraine's recovery. We discussed energy cooperation. We appreciate Slovakia's assistance in terms of electricity supplies," Ukrainian media outlets quoted Shmygal as saying in a social media post.

The situation on the border was also touched upon, he said.

"It was noted that priority shipments are crossing the border unhindered. We expect to sign an intergovernmental agreement on control at common border crossings in the near future," Shmygal said.

Meanwhile, according to Ukrainian media, Slovak Prime Minister Fico said on Monday after the conversation with Shmygal that he "confirmed Slovakia's interest in [providing] humanitarian and social assistance to Ukraine."    

"I ruled out supplying weapons and ammunition from state warehouses and from the army," Fico said.

"We do not believe in a military solution to the conflict in Ukraine, as it will only lead to unnecessary bloodshed without results," he said.

Furthermore, Slovakia will continue to ban the import of Ukrainian agricultural products to its territory, "because we will not go against our own farmers," Fico said. 

Meanwhile, Slovakia supports the European prospect of Ukraine and Moldova, "but together with the West Balkan countries," he said.

"We will meet with Prime Minister Shmygal on the Slovak-Ukrainian border in early 2024, and the topic of the meeting will be cooperation in the above-mentioned areas," Fico said.

As previously reported, representatives from the Union of Road Transport of Slovakia began to block trucks moving through the Vysne Nemecke border checkpoint on December 1.

The union stated that this checkpoint would be blocked indefinitely. Their main demand is the abolition of the transport liberalization agreement which has been in force between the EU and Ukraine since July 1, 2022. The agreement is having a devastating impact on the Slovak transport market and on the markets of other countries neighboring Ukraine, the Slovak union said.

Similar demands have come from Polish carriers, who in November gradually blocked four checkpoints on the border between Ukraine and Poland. Queues in front of blocked checkpoints on the Polish side stretched up to 40 km. The current events have seriously affected Ukraine's agricultural exports, and the European Commission considers the situation on the border between Poland and Ukraine unacceptable.