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Polish truckers suspend Ukraine border blockade

Polish hauliers confirmed the suspension of their blockade on the border with Ukraine
Polish hauliers confirmed the suspension of their blockade on the border with Ukraine - Copyright POOL/AFP Leon Neal
Polish hauliers confirmed the suspension of their blockade on the border with Ukraine - Copyright POOL/AFP Leon Neal
Anna Maria JAKUBEK

Polish truckers will suspend their longstanding blockade of the Ukrainian border following an agreement with the government, authorities said Tuesday, in a move that could resolve a source of friction between the allies.

The hauliers confirmed the suspension until March but warned that they would return to the border if their demands were not met. 

Kyiv said previously that the fallout from the protest had been “catastrophic” and that Ukrainian drivers stuck at the border were facing “dire” conditions.

Ukraine relies heavily on road transport with EU member Poland for its exports and imports, particularly since the Russian invasion nearly two years ago.

“The protest will be suspended until March 1,” Polish Infrastructure Minister Dariusz Klimczak told reporters alongside representatives of the hauliers. 

“We have an agreement. An agreement that was long-awaited not just by Polish hauliers, but also by many entrepreneurs in Poland, by the European Commission, by Ukraine,” he added. 

The Polish hauliers have been blocking the border since November to demand the reintroduction of restrictions to enter the European Union for their Ukrainian competitors.

The bloc had waived the permits system after Russia invaded Ukraine, but the Polish road carriers say the move took a toll on their earnings.

Protest co-organiser Rafal Mekler confirmed the agreement to suspend the border protest. 

“The government is undertaking several commitments within the specific timeframe that are intended to fulfil the protest demands,” he said on X, formerly Twitter.

“If we don’t manage to reach a solution, we will return to the border… This is not capitulation but a strategic pause.”

The agreement, which Mekler posted on X, sets out several actions the government had committed to, including launching talks with the European Commission towards securing financial support for Polish hauliers.

– ‘Intensive talks’ –

Polish truckers launched their protest in early November. 

Trucking representatives from the EU member and other Central European countries — the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania and Slovakia — later that month sent a joint statement to their transport ministers and the European Commission.

They called for the reinstatement of EU entry permits for Ukrainian trucks, saying the transport agreement with Ukraine is “harming the competitiveness of EU road transport operators”. 

“Hereby we ask and urge all decision makers involved to consider termination or significant changes to the current EU-Ukraine arrangement,” they added. 

Poland’s new pro-EU prime minister, Donald Tusk, promised last month to resolve the conflict.

He also accused the previous right-wing government of having abandoned the protesting truckers.

Klimczak said Tuesday’s agreement “is not the end of dialogue. On the contrary, it paves the way for intensive talks which should lead to solutions”.  

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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