Is it possible to achieve breakthrough in relations between Ukraine and Poland?

Monday, 22 January 2024

Last week, the Polish government managed to reach a compromise with border blockaders.

And on 22 January, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk visited Kyiv.

Read more about expectations in Ukraine-Poland relations in the column by Yurii Panchenko, EuroPravda's editor – Tusk aiming for breakthrough: will his visit to Kyiv reset relations between Poland and Ukraine.

The author notes that the agreement between the Polish government and border blockaders has challenging for Ukraine points. Specifically, the operation of one border crossing point exclusively for Poles contradicts Ukrainian legislation.

There are also no guarantees that the border will not be blocked again any time soon. Polish farmers have announced such a plan (albeit for a few hours).

"The window of opportunity to reset relations between the countries may turn out to be very short," Yurii Panchenko believes.

It is even more important for Kyiv and Warsaw to fully take advantage of the existing opportunities.

What can Ukraine expected from Tusk's visit?

Firstly, as the editor of European Pravda points out, the head of the Polish government will not be able to bypass the second significant problem in the relations between the countries – Warsaw's ban on Ukraine's import of wheat, corn, and rapeseed.

No one should expect a quick breakthrough in this regard, warns the author. An agreement on the gradual ban replacement with licensing could be a possible compromise. Kyiv proposed this solution to the government of Mateusz Morawiecki but did not receive any response.

This time, however, statements by the new Minister of Agricultural Policy, Czesław Siekierski, makes it even more complicated. He expressed his "fundamental resistance" to the extension of duty-free trade with Ukraine. The official claimed that the issues with excessive imports concern not only grains but also "sugar, poultry, eggs, soft fruit (especially frozen raspberries) or apple concentrate".

Donald Tusk has not commented on his minister's statements so far. So, if these statements do not correspond to the government's position, Kyiv is the best place to announce it.

"On the other hand, we can expect quick breakthroughs in other areas, such as the politics of memory," Yurii Panchenko is sure.

Ukraine still holds a moratorium on search and exhumation work regarding the victims of the conflict in Volhynia in 1943.

In 2019, Presidents Zelenskyy and Duda agreed to lift the moratorium, but it was not implemented because the Polish side did not fulfill its part of the agreement. It did not restore the original tombstone on the grave of Ukrainian soldiers on Monastery Hill.

The issue of the Ukrainian moratorium is quite painful for Polish society, adds the editor of European Pravda.

If Donald Tusk can resolve this issue, it will be a powerful argument for him in the dispute with the previous government.

On top of that, the author suggests that it is highly likely that Donald Tusk will send a signal from Kyiv that his government is considering the issue of sending weapons to Ukraine.

"And along with that, this visit may announce Poland's accession to negotiations on 'security guarantees' for Ukraine. It looks very strange that Ukrain's key ally is one of the few EU countries with whom it has not yet started such negotiations," Panchenko writes.

Finally, adds the author, this visit may bring an end to the intrigue over the appointment of a new Ukrainian ambassador to Poland.

Even though the current ambassador Vasyl Zvarych was appointed less than two years ago, it was announced about his departure to Prague.

In turn, according to EuroPravda, the Presidential Office is preparing a significant strengthening of diplomatic relations with Warsaw by appointing one of the diplomats closest to Volodymyr Zelenskyy as the ambassador.

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