June 23. 2024. 2:00

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Polish politicians bicker over grain crisis

The Polish opposition is helping the Kremlin by touting media reports that companies connected to the ruling camp participated in importing Ukrainian grain to Poland, causing huge disruptions in the market, according to new Agriculture Minister Robert Telus.

To facilitate the transport of Ukrainian grain to third countries, the Commission launched the so-called ‘solidarity lanes’, which resulted in Ukrainian grain flooding the Polish market due to bottlenecks and many Polish farmers unable to sell their own products.

But some companies that imported Ukrainian grain are connected to the ruling Law and Justice (PiS, ECR) party, with one company’s CEO and a former advisor to another being former PiS members, Wirtualna Polska reported on Monday.

The opposition took the controversy to parliament on Wednesday, accusing the government of its links with cheap imports that disrupted the Polish market, for failing to help Polish farmers most hurt by the massive influx, and for not having imposed quality controls at the borders.

“We want to help Polish farmers, as their situation was caused by the war. It was caused by the aggressor, (Russian President Vladimir) Putin. And by making a fuss, you support Putin,” Telus said in response, accusing the opposition of taking political advantage of the situation.

Telus later declared he would meet farmers still protesting the inflow of Ukrainian grain into Poland. He also said he wanted to make public the names of the companies that imported Ukrainian grain for lower prices and announced the introduction of stricter controls of quality at the borders.

The minister also said he would discuss the steps to sanction companies “that wanted to cheat the Polish people on grain” with Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro.

“For me, it does not matter whether it is someone connected to this (PiS’) or that side; whoever cheats will be punished,” said Telus, as quoted by Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

Last week, Warsaw and Kyiv agreed to dramatically reduce grain imports and completely halt them until the next harvest season. “There must not be problems between such close partners as Poland and Ukraine,” said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during his visit to Warsaw.

AgroUnia, the leading Polish farmer’s movement, is calling for an investigation to explain PiS’ ties with the companies that contributed to the massive grain inflow from Ukraine. It also wants the PiS government to resign.

AgroUnia’s leader Michał Kołodziejczak is sceptical about the results of Thursday’s meeting with the new minister. In an interview for TOK FM radio, he accused the government of trying to use farmers in its campaign for the general election later this year. The farmers have long been perceived as PiS’ key electorate.

(Aleksandra Krzysztoszek | EURACTIV.pl)