WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's government on Tuesday called on the European Union to extend the embargo on imports of Ukrainian grain beyond an end-of-week deadline to protect Polish farmers.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said he has requested that the European Commission, the EU's executive, extend the ban on the entry of Ukraine corn, wheat, sunflower and rapeseed or else "we will do it ourselves because we cannot allow for a deregulation of the market."
Speaking to farmers in Kosow Lacki, in Poland's farming east region, Morawiecki said that the Oct. 15 parliamentary elections will be key for the future of Poland's agriculture. The ruling conservative Law and Justice party is seeking to attract farmer voters in its campaign.
Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania — acting on a decision by the European Union — imposed an embargo on the four Ukrainian grains from April until Sept. 15 to prevent a glut in their home markets that would hurt their farmers. Only the transit of sealed goods is allowed in an effort to help Ukraine send its produce overseas as Russia blocks its usual export routes.
Earler in the day, Morawiecki posted on platform X, formerly known as Twitter, that "Poland will not allow Ukraine grain to flood us."
"Regardless of the decisions of the clerks in Brussels, we will not open up our borders," Morawiecki wrote, amid intensive campaigning for the elections in which the ruling Law and Justice party wants to win an unprecedented third term.
EU commissioners and, separately, the European Parliament were to debate the issue on Tuesday.
EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said Tuesday he is making efforts to have the embargo extended. Wojciechowski is Poland's former agriculture minister.
Some leaders of Polish farm groups were to attend the EU Parliament debate, including Michal Kolodziejczak, who is an opposition candidate in the Oct. 15 elections.
Poland has been supporting neighboring Ukraine with military and humanitarian assistance as it fights Russia's invasion, but following farmer protests, Warsaw has been adamant in banning imports of Ukrainian agriculture products.
"We are ready to support Ukraine during the war and during its reconstruction and we want to take part in the reconstruction but at the same time we must remember about our citizens, our agriculture and our countryside," Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the ruling party leader and deputy prime minister, said at the start of the Cabinet meeting.
"Our Ukrainian friends should understand that," he said.