Ukraine hopes to find ways to unblock border with Poland this week

KYIV (Reuters) – Ukraine hopes to reach agreement with the new Polish government this week to end truck blockades at the countries’ border crossings, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister said on Thursday.

On Monday Polish truckers resumed their blockade of one of the main crossings at the Ukrainian border, demanding that the European Union reinstate a system whereby Ukrainian companies need permits to operate in the bloc.

Polish drivers have been blocking several border crossings with Ukraine since Nov. 6, but the blockade at the major Yahodyn-Dorohusk crossing was temporarily lifted after a local mayor took action to stop it because he feared it would threaten jobs.

“We plan to come to a common position this week in Kyiv together with representatives of the Polish government,” Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov was quoted as saying after he met with new Polish infrastructure minister Dariusz Klimczak in Warsaw.

Kubrakov, who is also Ukraine’s minister of infrastructure, restoration and communities, said the unblocking the border was the main topic of the meeting because major crossings were completely blocked and only three trucks had left Yahodyn in the past day.

Kubrakov said government representatives of Ukraine and Poland would hold another meeting in Kyiv before the end of this week.

Polish truckers complain they are losing out to Ukrainian companies which offer cheaper prices for their services and which are transporting goods within the EU, rather than just between the bloc and Ukraine.

“We presented key figures and analytical data on freight traffic by Ukrainian and Polish carriers, which show that the problems that the protesters are talking about do not actually exist,” he said.

Ukrainian transport analysts say about 3,900 trucks are on the Polish side waiting for permission to enter Ukraine.

Poland’s newly appointed Prime Minister Donald Tusk said last week that the new government will try to put an end to the truck drivers’ protest at the Ukrainian border quickly.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Susan Fenton)