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Tusk accuses Polish government of 'inaction' on Ukraine border blockade

by Martin Fornusek November 29, 2023 12:16 PM 3 min read
Donald Tusk, the leader of the Civic Coalition, is speaking during a press conference in Warsaw, Poland, on Nov. 21, 2023. (Andrzej Iwanczuk/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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Donald Tusk, the leader of the Polish Civic Coalition (KO), accused Poland's government of "inaction" regarding the ongoing blockade of the border with Ukraine by Polish protesters, the Polish Press Agency reported on Nov. 28.

"Since they are pretending that they are now creating a real government, they could pretend they are dealing with real problems," Tusk said.

Polish President Andrzej Duda appointed Mateusz Morawiecki, the country's prime minister since 2017 for the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, as the head of a proposed new government on Nov. 27.

The PiS received the most votes in the recent elections but is unlikely to win the support of the parliament within the two-week deadline. The opposition parties, who hold the majority, said they prefer Tusk to be the new prime minister.

"Such inaction cannot be excused because, in this way, we are putting Polish-Ukrainian relations at risk and not caring about Polish interests," Tusk commented.

Polish truckers began blocking three border crossings with Ukraine on Nov. 6 in protest of the liberalization of EU transport rules for Ukrainian trucks. The protesters blocked a fourth crossing several weeks later, causing huge lines on both sides of the border.

Ukrainian officials complained of problems with humanitarian deliveries and economic fallout due to the blockade, appealing to the Polish government for assistance.  Two Ukrainian truckers have reportedly died of natural causes while stranded in the line.

Ukraine's Deputy Infrastructure Minister Serhii Derkach also complained of Poland's pre-Nov. 27 government's apparent inaction, saying that Warsaw stood by as local authorities helped the demonstrators.

To alleviate the crisis, Poland's now-former Infrastructure Minister Andrzej Adamczyk proposed on Nov. 27 that Ukraine exempts trucks returning to the EU without cargo being registered in its electronic queue system.

Adamczyk also asked the European Commission to establish a joint committee to analyze the impact of the liberalization of EU transport rules for Ukrainian trucks on the European transport market.

Anna Gembicka, the new Polish agriculture minister, visited Polish farmers blocking the Medyka-Shehyni checkpoint on Nov. 28 to discuss their demands for lifting the blockade.

Tusk said he is meeting with experts and politicians to discuss the situation at the border. He also accused the PiS leadership of "playing the Ukrainian card...unprofessionally and cynically."

At the start of the full-scale invasion, the government took a radically pro-Ukrainian position while "completely forgetting about Polish interests," Tusk said.

"We must live with Ukraine in friendship and support, but at the same time not to neglect Polish interests," he added.

According to Tusk, the government later changed its position and started "playing the anti-Ukrainian card" when it realized that the previous approach "made people angry."

Relations between Ukraine and Poland, one of Kyiv's most ardent allies, deteriorated in September over grain embargo disputes, aggravated by heated statements from politicians on both sides.

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