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Polish farmers march to protest Ukrainian imports, EU policy

February 27, 2024

Polish farmers took to the streets of Warsaw demanding a ban on food imports from Ukraine. Under pressure, Poland's prime minister is considering a broader ban on Ukrainian food imports.

Demonstrators gather in front of the Palace of Culture and Science to attend a farmers' protest against EU climate measures and Ukrainian imports in Warsaw, Poland
Around 10,000 protesters took part in the march in WarsawImage: Sergei Gapon/AFP/Getty Images

Thousands of farmers marched in Poland's capital on Tuesday to protest against European Union agricultural policies and the import of cheap agricultural products from Ukraine.

Farmers and their supporters blew horns and burned smoke bombs in the white and red colors of the national flag outside the Polish parliament in Warsaw before marching to the offices of Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

Protesters say the Green Deal is too costly

Warsaw City Hall estimated that 10,000 people took part. The mostly male participants carried placards that read "We farmers and free Poles say stop the green madness" and "Our state, our food."

The demonstrators want to withdraw from the EU's Green Deal, a plan to fight climate change and help the environment with measures they say are too costly.

They also want a ban on imports of Ukrainian grain and other products. The EU in 2022 waived duties on Ukrainian food imports following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

In contrast to previous protests, no tractors or agricultural machinery were allowed to take part in the demonstration. Further protests in Warsaw have already been announced for March 6, the farmers' leader said.

Polish farmers in Warsaw
Polish farmers protested against the proposed EU Green Deal and also against the import of certain Ukrainian productsImage: Omar Marques/Anadolu/picture alliance

Tusk mulls wider ban on Ukrainain food import

Polish farmers began a series of protests across the country earlier this month, including a near-total blockade of all Ukrainian border crossings and disruptions at ports and on roads across the country.

The protests across have become a major challenge for Polish leaders, who strongly support Ukraine but are forced to respond to the rising social anger.

"We want to help Ukraine," Tusk said in Prague, where he traveled for a meeting of regional leaders on Tuesday. "But it cannot be done through actions that are lethal to whole areas of the economy."

"We are talking about it with the Ukrainian side, that it will be necessary to expand the embargo to other products if the European Union does not find more effective ways to protect the European and Polish markets," Tusk added.

Poland looks for solutions

Earlier in the day, Tusk said the EU must address the problems caused by its decision to open its borders to Ukrainian food imports.

He added that Poland was ready to co-finance the purchase of Polish, European and Ukrainian food and agricultural products to be sent as humanitarian aid to famine-stricken countries.

Polish Agriculture Minister Czeslaw Siekierski said in a Tuesday evening interview on Polsat News TV that further talks with Ukraine on solutions were planned for Wednesday, and various possibilities were being considered.

dh/msh (AP, dpa, Reuters)

DW Correspondent Christine Mhundwa from the farmers' protests in Poland