Zelensky's representatives denied a trilateral meeting with Duda over grain: what is happening between Poland and Ukraine and is there a way out
During his visit to New York (USA), President Volodymyr Zelensky didn't hold a trilateral meeting to discuss the grain issue with his counterparts from Lithuania and Poland, Gitanas Nausėda and Andrzej Duda. The media reported such a meeting by mistake. However, the grain conflict between Ukraine and Poland remains unresolved.
The information about trilateral grain talks between Zelensky, Duda and Nauseda was denied by the Ukrainian president's press secretary, Serhiy Nikiforov, in a comment to OBOZREVATEL. However, Nauseda did make several statements about Poland's grain embargo. OBOZREVATEL found out what is happening in relations between the countries.
The grain meeting that never happened
On September 21, LRT reported about trilateral talks between Zelensky, Duda and Nauseda. The text was later changed, removing all references to such talks from the article.
However, the Lithuanian president did call on Ukraine and Poland to resolve their differences as soon as possible. The article also mentions his separate talks with Duda and Zelensky, but it is not clear whether it was during official meetings or informal communication on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
"The differences between Ukraine and Poland should be resolved as soon as possible. Poland has an exceptional place in supporting (Ukraine in its defense against Russian aggression - Ed.). Solutions must be found. It would be irresponsible to further deepen the crisis," Nauseda said.
He assured that he would continue negotiations with both Zelensky and Duda to finally resolve the grain embargo issue. According to Nauseda, the parties to the trade conflict should realize that "it is not about the security of individual countries but about the whole region and even the continent." He noted that quarrels between partners play into the hands of Russian propaganda.
"As history shows, only through joint efforts, support and assistance to each other can we resist the danger of an external threat. Disagreements not only undermine unity but also help enemy propaganda," Nauseda emphasized.
Ukraine, Poland and grain: why the conflict arose
Nauseda's statement was a response to the information that emerged against the backdrop of the grain conflict regarding Poland stopping arms supplies to Ukraine. For example, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki emphasized that Warsaw is currently focused on rearming its own army and therefore does not provide military aid to Kyiv.
The roots of political disagreements lie in the trade sphere. The fact is that Poland was one of the first countries to impose a ban on the sale of Ukrainian grain on its territory due to protests by local farmers, who are forced to operate at a loss by the dominance of cheap Ukrainian products. On September 15, the European Commission authorized food supplies from Ukraine throughout the EU, but Poland extended the embargo unilaterally.
In response, Ukraine filed a lawsuit with the World Trade Organization (WTO). So far, it has only been consultations, but the Ukrainian side has declared its readiness for litigation, which did not please Poland, especially against the backdrop of the upcoming parliamentary elections (October 15).
President Duda then refused to meet with Zelensky. The formal reason was a "busy schedule," but such actions are of great importance in diplomatic terms. The Polish authorities also announced that they would allegedly stop all assistance to Ukrainian refugees in 2024. However, according to experts, the EU will force Poland not to prohibit Ukrainian refugees from working and receiving benefits. The European Commission has already stated that they want to extend the preferential conditions for Ukrainians until 2025.
In addition, Poland summoned Ukraine's ambassador to protest President Zelensky's statement that "some countries" only pretend to support Ukraine. The Polish side was offended, although Zelensky did not mention the name of the country.
Poland recalled that a significant portion of the weapons sent by other allies gets to Ukraine through Polish territory. In addition, it is this country that has provided asylum to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees. After the ambassador's call, Ukraine called on Poland to "leave emotions aside" and take a constructive stance.
Is there a way out?
The origins of the conflict between Poland and Ukraine, which Nauseda is so eager to resolve, are economic. That is why the issue should be resolved primarily by the trade representatives of the countries and the relevant ministers.
However, grain is a particularly sensitive topic for Polish politicians as they prepare for the elections. The political forces that form the current government of Poland traditionally have strong support from the regions involved in agriculture. Therefore, it is likely that the problem of the grain will be resolved after the Polish elections on October 15.
There are already positive examples of grain negotiations. After all, Poland is not the only country that has not lifted the embargo. Romania and Slovakia have made the same decision. It is the negotiations with these countries that we should pay attention to if we want to understand how the current trade conflict should end.
For example, Slovakia announced that it would lift its ban on Ukrainian grain after talks at the level of agriculture ministers. The condition is the development and the launch of a grain trading system based on the issuance and control of licenses.
This system is fully in line with Ukraine's agreements with the European Commission. Ukraine is supposed to regulate its own exports of agricultural products to "problematic" EU countries. To do this, the Ukrainian authorities will first agree with the EC on the lists and volumes of products and only then issue export permits to domestic agricultural producers.
Similar negotiations are underway with Romania, which has also agreed to develop such a system. The current rules of these countries imply that the grain ban will last until the end of 2023. However, if the licensing system is launched, trade borders for grain may be opened earlier. If we approach the issue constructively, Poland will not be an exception.