Poland, Ukraine hail 'step forward' on farm imports dispute

Poland, Ukraine hail 'step forward' on farm imports dispute

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal (Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal (L) said he hoped to have 'pragmatic and constructive' talks with Polish counterpart Donald Tusk (R)   L) said he hope to have 'pragmatic and constructive' talks with Polish counterpart Donald Tusk (R)
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal (L) said he hoped to have 'pragmatic and constructive' talks with Polish counterpart Donald Tusk (R). Photo: Wojtek Radwanski / AFP
Source: AFP

Poland's prime minister on Thursday hailed the progress made in talks with Ukraine on farm imports and border blockades by Polish farmers that had frayed ties between the neighbouring allies.

Poland has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine as it fights off a Russian invasion, but their relations have soured over the past months over economic disputes, with farmers complaining that imports from Ukraine have undercut prices for their own produce.

"In the matter of agriculture, we have moved a step forward," Donald Tusk told reporters after hosting his Ukrainian counterpart Denys Shmygal.

The Polish premier welcomed Shmygal to much fanfare, with Ukrainian flags hoisted outside the seat of government in Warsaw and the anthems of both countries played by the military band.

The long-awaited talks failed to yield a solution to the dispute, though Tusk said the allies were "close" to an agreement.

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"We're looking for solutions and we're close to them... this concerns the quantity of products that can flow to Poland," Tusk said, adding that the issue of the transit of Ukrainian goods through Poland was also discussed.

Kyiv has repeatedly urged its EU neighbour to ease the cross-border traffic snarls, warning that delays triggered by the blockades could impede weapons deliveries to the country.

"We expect that today's consultations will bring results and we will find ways to resolve problematic issues," Shmygal said on social media after the meeting with Tusk.

'Divergent positions'

During the talks, the countries signed a joint declaration outlining the "directions" for future negotiations between Kyiv and Warsaw.

So far, only lower-level talks between the countries were held, with little sign of progress.

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Before the latest meeting, Polish government officials had sought to tone down expectations, warning that finding long-lasting solutions would take more time.

"It is hard to expect any breakthrough after these talks, any particular agreement... on agricultural issues," Tusk's chief of staff Jan Grabiec said ahead of the meeting.

"There are divergent positions on this matter," he told the Polish news agency PAP.

Ukraine's agricultural sector has been crippled by Russia's 2022 invasion, with many export routes through the Black Sea blocked and swaths of farmland rendered unusable by the conflict.

Talks between ministers from both governments are also scheduled for Thursday, to discuss defence cooperation between the allies.

The meeting in Warsaw was announced by Tusk last month after Ukrainian authorities called on Warsaw to hold talks on their shared border, an invitation snubbed by Poland.

Source: AFP

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