Poland and Ukraine in talks on border closure – Warsaw

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Poland and Ukraine in talks on border closure – Warsaw

Kiev has denied the claim, saying no negotiations about temporarily closing the border were taking place

Poland and Ukraine are in talks about temporarily closing the border between the two countries amid a blockade by protesting farmers, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has said. Kiev has denied such discussions were underway.

The announcement comes as Polish farmers continue to block border crossings in protest against the import of Ukrainian grain. They claim producers from the neighboring country have an unfair advantage, given that they do not have to abide by EU regulations or pay the bloc’s taxes.

”We are also talking with the Ukrainian side about a temporary closure of the border and the exchange of goods,” Tusk said on Wednesday, as cited by RMF24, an online news portal.

The Polish authorities “want to help Ukraine, but we can’t allow this help to bring very negative effects to our citizens. We are constantly looking for a solution that will protect the Polish market from being flooded with clearly cheaper [Ukrainian] agricultural products,” he stressed.

The PM said that if an agreement on the temporary closure border is reached, it will be a “painful” solution for both sides. He stressed that eventually Ukraine and Poland would have to find a more suitable, “long-term” solution to the crisis, which has been ongoing since October.

“I’m ready to make decisions, even tough ones, when it comes to the border with Ukraine, always in agreement with Kiev, so that there are no unnecessary tensions,” he said.

However, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Kubrakov hurried to dispute Tusk’s claims, saying that “no one on the Ukrainian side is negotiating about closing the border with Poland.”

A stable border with its neighbor is “a matter of survival” for Ukraine amid the conflict with Russia, Kubrakov insisted in a statement posted on the Facebook page of Ukraine’s Ministry of Community Development, Territories and Infrastructure.

READ MORE: Russia ‘obviously’ behind protests in Poland – Ukraine

Kiev has offered “constructive solutions” and made practical steps to alleviate tensions on the border, the deputy PM said, adding that it’s now waiting for an “appropriate decision” by the Polish authorities.

On Wednesday, Ukraine’s First Deputy Agriculture Minister Taras Visotsky demanded reimbursement for up to 180 tons of Ukrainian grain that the protesting Polish farmers had dumped from trucks that got stuck at the crossings. “Those who caused the damage must compensate for it,” he insisted.

Last week, one of demonstrators was charged with hate speech by Polish authorities after he fitted his tractor with a Soviet flag and a message appealing to the Russian president, which read “[Vladimir] deal with Ukraine, Brussels and our rulers.”

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