Polish MP critical of German minister's stance on Poland's grain embargo

Radoslaw Fogiel said: Today, Poland has the right to make decisions that protect our economy and our agriculture. Radek Pietruszka/PAP

Poland has the right to make decisions that protect the Polish economy and agriculture, a governing party MP has told PAP, referring to the recent comments of the German agriculture minister over Poland's grain import ban.

On September 15, the European Commission (EC) said that an EU embargo on Ukrainian grain entering five member states - Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia - would not be extended as "the market distortions in the five frontline countries have disappeared."

Poland decided to extend the ban despite the disagreement of the EC. Slovakia and Hungary also announced restrictions on Ukrainian grain imports. 

Cem Ozdemir, the German food and agriculture minister, said on Monday that the EC had made the "right decision" to lift the ban and accused the eastern European countries, including Poland, of "part-time solidarity" with Ukraine. "When it suits you, you are in solidarity and when it doesn't suit you, you are not," he added.

Radoslaw Fogiel, an MP of the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party and chair of the Sejm (lower house) Foreign Affairs Committee, replied on Tuesday: "The German minister, a representative of the country that withheld financial aid for Ukraine as well as sanctions and blocked allies who wanted to transfer weapons, is the last person who should make such comments today, especially statements about Poland.

"Poland has allocated about 2 percent of GDP to aid Ukraine, has accepted millions of refugees, is donating military equipment and has been helping since the first days of the war," Fogiel went on to say.

"It was the Polish Prime Minister who had to convince the German Chancellor to become more involved and it was Poland who had to build a coalition regarding Leopard tanks to force Germany to act," Fogiel said. "Such words are an expression of completely unjustified arrogance...

"Today, Poland has the right to make decisions that protect our economy and our agriculture," he said.

"We are helping Ukraine, but the interest of Poland and Poles is our priority," Fogiel pointed out. "And instead of lecturing others on solidarity, Germany should engage in activities aimed at creating corridors and the efficient transit of Ukrainian grain outside the European Union." 

The problem of Ukrainian agricultural exports has become more acute after Russia in the summer withdrew from the grain deal brokered by the UN and Turkey, which had allowed Ukraine to ship huge amounts of agricultural produce via the Black Sea, the most efficient route. Exports through the land route leading across Ukraine's western neighbours, including Poland, has flooded local markets and depressed local prices, triggering protests from local farmers.