Polish agriculture minister backs Ukraine, but says grain embargo must remain
Czesław Siekierski. Photo - Ministry of Agriculture of Poland

Poland will maintain the ban on the import of grain from Ukraine until the development of new rules at the level of the European Union, stated the Minister of Agriculture Czesław Siekierski in an interview with the TVP Info channel.

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"We want to help Ukraine, but we need rules related to quotas and transition periods. These are negotiations not only between Poland and Ukraine, but also with the participation of the EU," Siekierski said.

The minister believes that Poland should maintain the embargo until conditions are agreed to replace it.

"I think that a good solution would be to introduce the licensing of transportation when using transit routes outside of Poland," he said.

Siekierski visited the border in Medyka and talked with protesting farmers. However, legislative decisions are needed to prepare decisions, he noted.

"We are waiting for the consent of the European Union to subsidize corn. We want to keep loans at low interest rates. We also want local authorities to be able to exempt farmers from increasing the agricultural tax without losing money," the minister explained.

On the morning of December 24, Poland unblocked the movement of freight transport at one of the checkpoints on the border with Ukraine. The crossing point in Medyka was not blocked by transporters, but by farmers from the Deceived Village organization.

On December 23, it announced that the protests would be suspended for a week – until January 2 or 3, and further steps would depend on receiving the promised corn subsidies.

Since November 6, border crossings in Dorohusk, Hrebenne (Lublin Voivodeship) and Korczowa (Podkarpackie Voivodeship) have also been blocked in Poland. There, carriers are protesting with the demand to cancel the "transport visa-free" for Ukraine and return the permit system for transportation.

On December 22, a delegation of newly appointed Polish government officials arrived in Kyiv. Ukrainian Minister of Agriculture Mykola Solskyi met with Siekierski. The Polish minister confirmed his readiness to discuss issues related to common European markets.

On May 2, 2023, the European Commission introduced a ban on the import of agricultural products from Ukraine to five countries: Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria, in order to protect local markets from falling grain prices. After September 15, the EU authorities decided not to extend the embargo. Instead, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary decided to introduce unilateral bans on Ukrainian grain.