Poland hails progress in talks with Ukraine on grain exports

Poland has hailed the progress made during talks with Ukraine in their dispute over grain exports. The Polish agriculture minister has suggested a deal could soon be reached that would ease transit through Poland by transferring product inspections from the Polish border to German and Lithuanian ports.

The two countries have recently been locked in a war of words over Poland’s decision to introduce a unilateral ban on Ukrainian grain imports after the EU’s one expired. That led Kyiv to launch legal action against Poland – as well as Hungary and Slovakia – at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

However, following online talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Mykola Solsky, Polish agriculture minister Robert Telus said today that he was “very pleased that we are engaged in constructive dialogue and establishing mechanisms for the future”.

“Ukraine has accepted our argument,” said Telus, quoted by news website Gazeta.pl. “Our position is clear: grain from Ukraine cannot enter the Polish market.”

✅️Briefing po videorozmowie z ministrem UA Mykola Solskim
✅️Nasze decyzje są twarde – na rynek polski zboże ukraińskie nie może wpływać
✅️Strona Ukraińska rozumie nasze stanowisko
✅️Poprosiłem o wycofanie skargi z WTO#PlusaNaTelusa #MinisterTelus #telus#wiarygodność pic.twitter.com/NS4fEdaCbw

— Robert Telus (@RobertTelus) September 27, 2023

Poland is, however, keen to facilitate the transit of grain to third countries by “building mechanisms that will allow Ukrainian grain to flow to where it went before the war”, he added. This will “help Ukraine to export grain but protect our Polish market and Polish farmers”.

To this end, Poland has proposed transferring checks on Ukrainian grain from its border to the port in Lithuania from which is can then be exported by sea. There are now just “technical issues to finalise”, said Telus, who added that the Ukrainian side had proposed a similar transfer of checks to German ports.

The minister also revealed that he had asked his counterpart to withdraw Ukraine’s “groundless” complaint to the WTO, and that Solsky had agreed to “talk to the Ukrainian economy minister [about] rethinking” the issue.

Telus also claimed that Solsky admitted that “some statements on the Ukrainian side were too emotional and that a calming of the situation is needed”.

Zelensky’s remarks at the UN were a reference to the dispute over Ukrainian grain exports, which Poland, Slovakia and Hungary have unilaterally banned https://t.co/0VKt5hB8Ds

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) September 20, 2023

Last week, Poland summoned Ukraine’s ambassador after Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said in a speech at the UN that “some of our friends in Europe play out solidarity” while actually “setting the stage” for Russia, referring to the grain conflict.

Following the meeting with Telus, Ukraine’s agriculture ministry also issued a statement in which it noted that the the issues of transit and the WTO complaint had been discussed, but without providing further details.

It also announced that a trilateral meeting between Poland, Ukraine, and Lithuania is planned for the coming days, and that Solsky and Telus would meet again in a week for further discussions.

Микола Сольський 🇺🇦 обговорив з польським колегою 🇵🇱 процедуру ліцензування української агропродукції➡️ https://t.co/T9OiprGbff pic.twitter.com/F9hcFvlBIk

— Мінагрополітики UA (@Ministry_agroUA) September 27, 2023

Main image credit: MRiRW (under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 PL)

Alicja Ptak is senior editor at Notes from Poland and a multimedia journalist. She previously worked for Reuters.

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