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Carriers in Slovakia, following the Poles, threaten Ukraine with a border blockade: what is known

Kseniya KapustynskaNews
A Slovak organization wants to follow the example of far-right Poles
A Slovak organization wants to follow the example of far-right Poles

Another country has threatened to block the border with Ukraine. Following the Polish far-right, carriers from Slovakia may resort to blackmail. They, like some of their Polish colleagues (a minority supports the border strike in Poland), are demanding the return of discriminatory rules for Ukrainian businesses.

The Union of Road Carriers of Slovakia (UNAS) announced the threat of a strike, as reported by the Pravda newspaper. The head of UNAS, Stanislav Skala, said that the association is ready to go on strike if the European Commission does not return the issuance of commercial permits to Ukrainian carriers.

According to Skala, in this case, UNAS will block traffic from Slovakia to the border of Ukraine. The organization has already appealed to the Slovak government with this demand, and they promised to raise the issue at the European level.

"There is an agreement throughout the EU that no permits are needed until June 30, 2024. In early December, the EU Council of Ministers will be held in Brussels, where the Slovak Minister of Transport will propose to reconsider this decision. The massive increase in the number of shipments through the EU by Ukrainian carriers is at the expense of European carriers, which negatively affects the economy of the European Union," the Slovak Ministry of Transport said.

According to Slovak media reports, there is already an accumulation of trucks on the Slovak-Ukrainian border. According to estimates by the Slovak Association of Transport Companies (CESMAD Slovakia), due to Russia's full-scale military invasion of Ukraine and the blockade of ports in the Black Sea, the traffic of Ukrainian goods through Slovakia has increased 6-8 times over the past year and a half.

Earlier, Mustafa Nayem, head of the State Agency for the Restoration and Development of Infrastructure of Ukraine, explained that Ukraine would not agree to return the system of permits for freight transportation. In addition, the Cabinet of Ministers believes that the Polish side violated Ukraine's rights under the free trade zone (FTA) with the EU.

"Ukraine does not even intend to discuss a return to the permit system. The agreement on freight liberalization was ratified and agreed by all EU members and signed between the European Union and Ukraine, not by any individual country," Nayem explained.

Polish and now Slovak carriers are demanding the return of the system that was in place until June 2022. Back then, every carrier heading to the EU had to obtain permission to cross the border of a particular country.

"It was extremely important to abolish this practice because since the EU-Ukraine FTA came into effect in 2016, the EU has become Ukraine's main trading partner (40.8% of total foreign trade). And further growth was limited precisely by the lack of permits for international transportation, the number of which either remained unchanged or significantly decreased in some areas," Nayem explained.

Poland's border with Ukraine is blocked by the far right

Polish truck drivers have been blocking border crossings since November 6. The Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine, Mykola Solsky, has already explained that the blockade was not organized by the Polish government but by "a specific association and a small number of carriers." Ukrainian carriers confirm that the border blockade was supported by only one association of Polish carriers that had previously worked extensively with Russia.

The political representation was taken over by a Polish politician and Ukrainophobe, Raphael Mekler. His party has a small representation in the Sejm, representing the far right: they are against Poland's integration into the EU and in favor of limiting ties with Ukraine. However, the far right does not enjoy much support in Poland (it has only 6 seats out of 460 in parliament).

At the same time, as Illia Neskhodovskyi, an economist and head of the analytical direction of the ANTS Network for the Protection of National Interests, explained, the demands of the protesting Poles are illegal and discriminatory. In addition, they violate the Ukraine-EU free trade agreement.

"Are the Polish carriers right to go on strike? Absolutely not. This is free competition, and they demand certain preferences for themselves... They are demanding quotas for Ukrainian road carriers, preferences for themselves, a separate queue for Ukrainians to stand and spend money, and for them to pass without any problems. They demand that Ukrainian companies that have opened branches in Poland and carry out transportation should not use the opportunities available to any European company. All their demands are discriminatory conditions for Ukrainian carriers," Neskhodovsky said.

As reported by OBOZ.UA, the blocking of checkpoints on the border with Ukraine by far-right Polish carriers costs the latter about 164 thousand euros in daily losses. However, the losses of Ukraine itself are much higher, as they include the non-fulfillment of contracts by enterprises and the suspension of production.

Only verified information is available on the OBOZ.UA Telegram channel and Viber. Do not fall for fakes!

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