EU state warns of ‘difficult’ relations with Ukraine
Poland will not sacrifice its national interests for Ukraine, government spokesman Piotr Muller told Polish Radio on Tuesday, commenting on the ongoing row between the two neighbors over grain exports. Relations between Kiev and Warsaw will not necessarily be “bad,” but they are likely to be “difficult” in the months to come, he added.
“We know it perfectly well that Ukraine … has its own economic interests, including in the field of agriculture,” Muller said, adding that Polish officials “will not be able and do not want to meet these expectations of Ukraine.”
“We represent the Polish government, not the Ukrainian one,” the spokesman stated. Over the past months, Kiev and Warsaw have been locked in a dispute over Ukrainian agricultural exports, which also resulted in what has now become a diplomatic row.
The EU previously suspended tariffs on Ukrainian exports in a bid to support Kiev in its conflict with Moscow. The move made the farmers in highly regulated markets in neighboring countries unable to compete with cheap corn, wheat, and sunflower oil from Ukraine. Brussels then banned imports of the goods but allowed them to transit through Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania.
When the EU moratorium expired in mid-September, however, the four nations decided to extend it at the national level, a move to which Kiev responded by filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization. President Vladimir Zelensky accused the four countries of supporting Russia.
On Tuesday, Muller denied that Warsaw might freeze diplomatic relations with Kiev altogether but admitted that the coming months are likely to be “difficult” for the two nations. He also branded “some diplomatic gestures” and statements made by Ukraine as “inappropriate.” These concerns have been relayed to Kiev “directly,” he added.
On Monday, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau warned that a “titanic effort” would be needed to mend the ties between the two nations, adding that the Poles’ trust in Ukraine had been “shaken” by Ukraine’s WTO complaint and Zelensky’s words at the UN General Assembly.
Rau also told the Polsat broadcaster that he snubbed an EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Kiev on Monday to draw attention to a “period of downturn” in relations with Ukraine. Muller downplayed the incident by arguing that no “far-reaching conclusions” should be drawn from it and maintained that the two neighbors continue to communicate on a daily basis.