Poles' support needed to continue helping Ukraine says European minister
The Polish government needs the support of Poles, if it is to continue backing Ukraine, the country’s minister of European affairs has said.
Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk was speaking on Tuesday amid mounting discord over Poland’s decision, along with Hungary and Slovakia, to extend its ban on Ukrainian agri-products despite the EU deciding not to renew its own embargo, which expired on September 15.
Yulia Svyrydenko, Ukraine’s economy minister, said on Monday night that her country had filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the three countries over the ban.
Asked by PAP on Tuesday about the Polish-Ukrainian conflict over the grain embargo, Szynkowski vel Sęk said that the Polish government is "unyielding" on this matter due to the need to protect the interests of Polish farmers.
In his opinion, the steps taken by Ukraine have a negative impact on mutual relations, and undermine the sympathy for Ukraine that Poles have.
"Ukraine's actions make no impression on us... but they do make a certain impression on Polish public opinion," he said. "This can be seen in the polls, in the level of public support for continued support for Ukraine. And this harms Ukraine itself."
He added that a lack of public support for aiding Ukraine to the extent that has been the case so far will mean that it will have to be limited.
"We would like to continue supporting Ukraine, but, for this to be possible, we must have the support of Poles in this matter. If we don't have it, it will be difficult for us to continue supporting Ukraine in the same way as we have been doing so far," Szynkowski vel Sęk told PAP.
Asked whether issues related to agriculture would be a bargaining chip during Ukraine's possible accession to the EU, he replied that Ukraine must meet a number of clearly defined conditions in many fields.
"Ukraine will have to meet all the conditions, and Ukrainian agriculture can of course have access to European markets, but not in such a way that it poses a threat to Polish farmers," Szynkowski vel Sęk said.