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Farmers in northern Greece are protesting, not going to block roads

17 September 2015 / 13:09:42  GRReporter
1911 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

On the eve of the early parliamentary elections, farmers in northern Greece and in some western and southern regions have started protests against the tax and social security changes provided for them in the third memorandum of financial aid and define them as "harsh and unfair".

Since yesterday, farmers in the regions of Drama, Kavala, Kozani, Serres and Pieria, Rhodope, Evros and Thesprotia have been out in the roads with their tractors and other agricultural equipment. The farmers from the region of Serres parked more than 100 tractors at the road junction to Kerdilia. Without using them, they stopped the traffic on Egnatia highway for a while and distributed leaflets to the passing car drivers. Today they are expected to carry out a similar blockade, without creating serious traffic problems. Farmers are protesting in two other locations in the region, namely near the village Mavrotalasa where they have positioned 200 tractors and near Alistrati where there are 50 agricultural machines at present.

About 200 farmers are protesting in the area of ​​Drama, on the road to the border crossing point Exochi - Ilinden. Their tractors are located on the road junction to Prosotsani, without hampering the traffic.

Komotini farmers are near the entrance of the city, their colleagues from Kozani are protesting near the junction to Larissa, whereas a number of tractors of farmers from Igoumenitsa are parked near the port.

So far, the protest of farmers from Evros was the most violent as yesterday they tried to block the traffic to the Greek-Turkish border. They set off to Kipi border crossing point with their tractors to block the road traffic and inform drivers about their demands. The farmers and 120 tractors managed to reach the Egnatia highway but police squads were already awaiting them there, having previously blocked the road with their buses to prevent them from reaching the highway. There were short clashes, during which the police used tear gas to repel farmers.

They withdrew and passed through the farmlands to get on the highway again. Then they blocked the traffic for a while, parked the tractors off the road and distributed leaflets to passing car drivers.

Farmers’ protests have embarrassed the owners of tourism companies in northern Greece who are expecting tourists from Bulgaria in the coming holidays. GRReporter contacted the chairman of the union of farmers in Serres Yiannis Tourtouras to ask whether his colleagues intend to intensify their protests in the coming days.

He said that farmers are not planning to block roads and prevent traffic in northern Greece until the elections, which will take place on 20 September and in the days following them. "We will wait to see which party will win, what government will be composed and what actions it will take in connection with the envisaged changes before we decide how to respond," said Tourtouras for GRReporter.

It is worth noting that New Democracy is strongly opposed to the imposition of taxes on farmers and said it will not vote the bill when it is tabled in parliament in October. The blue party has however promised that it will insist on substituting the revenue from these taxes with another one, without mentioning specific measures so far.

Tags: SocietyFarmers protestsTaxationEarly electionsBlockades of roads and border crossings
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