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13 May, 2024 11:35

EU state cancels talks with Ukraine over corruption fears

Poland will not negotiate with people facing criminal accusations, the deputy agriculture minister said
EU state cancels talks with Ukraine over corruption fears

Poland has called off negotiations with Ukraine on food imports after several of Kiev’s representatives were accused of corruption, the Dziennik Gazeta Prawna daily reported on Monday, citing the deputy minister of agriculture.

The talks were set to take place on May 14, to address trade disputes amid large-scale farmers’ protests in Poland over the import of cheap produce from Ukraine.

Explaining the cancellation, Michal Kolodziejczak told the newspaper that Warsaw “will not negotiate with individuals against whom charges of corruption have been brought.”

Kolodziejczak did not name specific individuals, but his statement follows the resignation of Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Nikolay Solsky, who – along several accomplices – was accused last month by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of illegally taking possession of state land.

It is unclear when the next round of talks between Warsaw and Kiev will take place, Kolodziejczak said, acknowledging that the Polish Agriculture Ministry has so far failed to resolve all issues relating to local farmers, and that “the situation is not easy.”

The Polish protests have been ongoing since February, with agriculture businesses demanding limits or a complete ban on cheap imports from Ukraine. Farmers have also requested more support for livestock farming and objected to the EU’s proposed Green Deal strategy, which would place limitations on producers in a bid to cut carbon emissions.

After the last round of Poland-Ukraine talks in March, Kolodziejczak accused Kiev’s representatives of violating “diplomatic principles.” He told the head of the All-Ukrainian Agrarian Council, Andrey Dykun, to stop mentioning the Russia-Ukraine conflict when discussing grain.

“One of the representatives of Ukraine began to use the theme of war, the front, a difficult situation. I replied that we know what the situation is... but economic negotiations have nothing to do with it,” the deputy minister told the news website Wirtualna Polska at the time.

In response, Ukraine accused Kolodziejczak of behaving “oddly” during the March negotiations by “constantly” leaving the room, scrolling his phone and verbally attacking Kiev’s representatives, ultimately hampering efforts to reach an agreement.