What signals did Donald Tusk bring to Kyiv?

Tuesday, 23 January 2024

On 22 January, the new Prime Minister of Poland, Donald Tusk, arrived in Kyiv for negotiations. His visit took place against the backdrop of strained relations between the two countries.

Whether it can be considered successful for both sides is discussed in the column by Yurii Panchenko, European Pravda editor -The right Donald: What visit of Prime Minister Tusk vhanged in Kyiv.

Donald Tusk was very cautious in his statements and remarks in Kyiv to avoid sharp tension within the Polish government coalition.

His caution was evident since Tusk's both appearances in front of the media, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, did not include answers to journalists' questions (Tusk only answered questions from Ukrainian students and university lecturers later in the evening).

And it's clear why: while working on improving relations with Ukraine, the Polish prime minister is walking on eggshells.

During the joint press appearance with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Donald Tusk emphasised issues related to Polish support in the war against Russia, Poland joining G7 joint declaration agreed upon in Vilnius, and the initiation of consultations for a bilateral security agreement.

There has long been a consensus in Polish society on all these matter, which aligns well with Ukraine's aspirations.

The meeting between the Ukrainian and Polish prime ministers became more challenging because the focus was not on security but on economic issues, where there is currently significant tension between Ukraine and Poland.

"We promised to make every effort not to harm and to support Polish farmers and hauliers," said Denys Shmyhal, making a move toward understanding with Poland.

At the same time, Ukraine's position remains unchanged: Kyiv expects "Poland to take steps to lift restrictions on Ukrainian farmers and producers." The compromise proposed by Denys Shmyhal involves verifying the export of agricultural products in accordance with the decision of the European Commission.

"This mechanism already works effectively with Romania and Bulgaria, and we propose to use it in our mutually beneficial relations," Shmyhal concluded.

In response, Donald Tusk avoided a clear answer to this proposal, stating only that Poland will assess the model proposed by Ukraine.

While this phrase lacks specificity, Tusk expresses confidence that the parties will find a solution "that will be beneficial for Polish and Ukrainian farmers and producers."

Despite the lack of clear statements from the Polish prime minister, it raises the question: if Tusk's statements were often vague, how can we talk about the success of his visit? Could it be the beginning of a reset?

Donald Tusk suggested changing the format of relations. Instead of discussing the "ingratitude of Ukrainians," which was too prevalent under the Morawiecki government, he proposes searching for a mutually beneficial compromise and demonstrates readiness for dialogue on all issues.

Obviously, this dialogue will not be easy. There are no guarantees that a compromise will be reached any time soon.

However, there is no alternative to this dialogue. The fact that Kyiv and Warsaw recognise it gives hope for overcoming differences.

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