12 Feb 2024 09:34

Poland's agriculture minister asks protesting farmers to stop blockading border with Ukraine

MOSCOW. Feb 12 (Interfax) - Polish Agriculture Minister Czeslaw Siekierski has asked farmers on strike to stop blockading border-crossings on the border with Ukraine, the Ukrainian media reported, citing the Polish Agriculture Ministry's information on social media.

"I will appeal to the farmers with a request to lift the blockade. I understand what the farmers want: [they want] consumers to be aware of their problems and to realize that the problems of agriculture are the problems of all residents," Siekierski was quoted by the ministry as telling a press conference in Przybyszewo (Masovian Voivodeship) after his talks with the strikers last Friday.

"To meet your demands we need your support. Making the EU market that much open for Ukrainian agricultural products was a mistake. We will see to it that not too many of those goods end up on our market," he said, adding that farmers' protests forced Europe to change its agrarian policy.

Poland is in technical talks with Ukraine and communicating with the European Commission (EC); already there was some progress from EC demands, further talks continue, the minister said.

"Farmers' protests in the European Union forced change in attitudes of the European Commission which has realized what social expectations are," Siekierski said, asking the strikers to remember that there was no quick fix to all problems.

It was reported that Polish farmers had announced a 30-day protest beginning February 9. During that period the strikers would block border-crossings on the country's border with Ukraine. The decision to stage the protest was made, in particular, by the board of NSZZ Solidarnosc Rolnikow Indywidualnych. They said the reason was a recent EC decision to extend the duty-free trade with Ukraine until 2025.