Polish farmers' protests are about defending their interests, not about politics – Tusk

  • 2024-03-04
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – As Polish farmers started checking trucks allegedly carrying Ukrainian or Russian grain at the border with Lithuania last Friday, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk says the protests are not political and only reflect farmers' concern for their own interests.

"It is not an easy task for the Polish government to keep order at the border when large groups of people want to block that border, they are certainly scared for their own interests," Tusk said in Vilnius on Monday, adding that he has asked Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte for such understanding.

"That was the human request I made to the prime minister. This is not politics, these are protests, this is just life that concerns Polish farmers, half a million families, who live on this, who earn an income from agricultural produce," the Polish prime minister said.

Farmers' protests at the Lithuanian-Polish border are "more a manifestation than a border blockade", Tusk said.

He agrees that some of the problems of Polish farmers might be exaggerated and that statistics show that there are no problems with Ukrainian grain coming back to Poland from Lithuania: "But the people who are protesting do not necessarily know the exact statistics and do not always have access to them. You should understand that this is not only a problem in Poland, but also in other countries, and it is a particularly sensitive issue in Poland“.

Tusk also pointed out that the price of wheat sold by Polish farmers has halved from 300 to 150 euros per ton in recent years, and that the situation has been aggravated by higher production, fertilizer and energy costs, as well as by the Green Deal restrictions. 

Protesting Polish farmers fear that some Ukrainian grain is returning from Lithuania to Poland after being processed or with forged documents.

As Lithuanian officials hope that the week-long protest at the border with Poland will be cut short, its organizer Karol Pieczynski told the Lithuanian public radio LRT on Monday that the action would go ahead as planned.