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World

Ukraine slams neighbours for plan to curb grain imports

PRAGUE: Ukraine’s foreign minister on Monday slammed neighbouring countries over plans to curb grain imports from...
Published August 28, 2023

PRAGUE: Ukraine's foreign minister on Monday slammed neighbouring countries over plans to curb grain imports from his country after an EU ban expires, vowing to "fiercely defend our rights".

Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria -- which is not Ukraine's direct neighbour -- said last week they wanted the European Union to extend the ban, due to expire on September 15, until the end of the year.

They threatened to take individual measures on a national scale if the EU failed to act.

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"We are absolutely adamantly against it because this move will violate the rules of the common market," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said during a visit to Prague.

"This rule will violate the Ukraine-EU association agreement, but most importantly this move will go against the principle of solidarity that the European Union is based on," he told reporters.

Kuleba said his country was ready to work with the five EU members on a solution.

He also called on them "not to take the issue of the export of grain hostage of their domestic political processes" as Poland in particular is bracing for a general election.

"If they behave like this, they will leave us with no chance but to fiercely defend our rights and the rights of Ukrainian farmers," Kuleba added.

Despite being Ukraine's ally, Poland has sparred with Kyiv over grain imports, with the issue triggering a diplomatic spat between the countries.

Polish presidential aide Marcin Przydacz said last month that Warsaw was prioritising "the interests of Polish farmers" and urged Ukraine to "appreciate the role Poland has played" in supporting the war-torn country.

Kyiv then reacted by summoning Poland's ambassador to the Ukrainian foreign ministry.

The EU has become a major transit route and export destination for Ukrainian grain since the Russian invasion began in February 2022.

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