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Official: Slovak authorities look to prevent blockades at Ukraine border

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk November 22, 2023 10:38 PM 2 min read
An aerial view of over 18-kilometer-long line that occurred near the Vysne Nemecke border crossing after the Polish protest against competition from Ukrainian drivers, near Vysne Nemecke, Slovakia on Nov. 11, 2023. (Robert Nemeti/Anadolu via Getty Images)
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Slovak authorities will investigate measures to prevent haulers from blocking the Ukraine-Slovak border crossing at Vysne Nemecke, Deputy Infrastructure Minister Serhii Derkach said on Nov. 22.

"Slovak colleagues confirmed that they do not support the border blockade, especially when it comes to the single cargo transport point with Slovakia at Uzhhorod - Vysne Nemecke," Derkach wrote on social media following his talks with Denisa Zilakova, a state secretary at the Slovak Transport Ministry.

"They promised to consult the Slovak Interior Ministry on how to prevent such protests."

The Slovak Union of Freight Carriers initiated protests near the Slovakia-Ukraine border crossing on Nov. 21, blocking cargo vehicles moving toward Vysne Nemecke.

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They have joined Polish truckers in a protest against the EU's liberalization of transport rules for Ukrainian trucks. Four checkpoints have been blocked by Polish protesters as of Nov. 22, leaving thousands of vehicles stranded at the crossings.

Polish truckers complain that the high number of Ukrainian drivers entering Poland are hauling goods from Poland to other countries, undercutting local businesses that cannot match cheaper Ukrainian prices.

Ukrainian officials and industry representatives denied the accusations, and the EU warned the Polish government to ensure the end of the blockade.

According to Derkach, transport liberalization is a necessary step in the conditions of war and Russia's blockade of the Black Sea shipping.

He also stressed that Slovak inspections uncovered no serious violations from the side of Ukrainian truckers.

The Ukrainian Border Guard said earlier on Nov. 22 that the crossing was temporarily unblocked in cooperation with the Slovak police.

State Border Guard spokesperson Andrii Demchenko said that 250 trucks crossed through the checkpoint in both directions over the past 24 hours on Nov. 21, albeit 100 fewer than is typical for the previous days.

Trucker protests: Unraveling the standoff between Polish and Ukrainian haulers
As Polish protests blocking three major Poland-Ukraine border crossings stretch into their third week, negotiations to bring an end to the blockade have all but failed. Exhausted drivers are stuck in massive lines on both sides of the border, with expected waiting times reaching over one month at t…

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