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Official: Polish truck drivers won't unblock border, talks lead nowhere

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk November 13, 2023 11:32 PM 2 min read
A truck driver looks out the window of his truck at the Rava-Ruska border checkpoint on the Ukrainian-Polish border, April 18, 2023. (Yuriy Dyachyshyn / AFP via Getty Images)
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Ukrainian officials met with Polish truck drivers who have blocked cargo movement through the border with Ukraine, Deputy Infrastructure Minister Serhii Derkach said on Nov. 13.

The negotiations failed to end the dispute between Ukraine and the Polish drivers demanding renewed restrictions on the number of Ukrainian trucks permitted in Poland as this request is "unrealistic at the moment," Derkach said on Facebook.

The protesters have claimed that the lack of entry permits for Ukrainian trucks, suspended by the European Union during Russia's full-scale invasion, was hurting business for Polish drivers. They are also calling for a ban on transportation companies from outside the EU.

The Polish truckers started the strikes on Nov. 6 and have reportedly blocked about 1,700 trucks from passing through the Polish-Ukrainian border at three checkpoints as of Nov. 9.

According to Derkach, the protesters insisted during the talks on the return of the permits system, though this question couldn't be solved at such talks since it requires involvement from EU officials.

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"It was clear that the issue of further blocking the border is not so much to solve urgent issues and problems, but to make a big communication campaign or a political story out of it and keep the border closed for as long as possible," added Derkach.

After the negotiations, Rafal Mekler, a leader of a protest in the Polish border town of Dorohusk, said that "the Ukrainian side does not take our demands into account," the Guardian reported, citing AFP.

Derkach emphasized that the border blockade was "a violation of a number of agreements" and called on the Polish strikers to unblock cargo movement immediately.

He announced another round of negotiations "based on bilateral communication with the Polish government and the voivodeships (provinces)."

The restrictions for Ukrainian truckers were waived as a result of the agreement on the liberalization of transport signed between Ukraine and the EU in June 2022. The deal is set to remain in force until July 2024.

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