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Live chain of farmers blocked the road between Athens and Thessaloniki

29 January 2013 / 23:01:27  GRReporter
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A live chain of about 400 farmers blocked the road between Athens and Thessaloniki at the height of Nikiti village in the region of Thessaly on Tuesday afternoon. The action was a sign of protest against the cuts in farm subsidies and the increase in the excise duty on fuel for agricultural purposes.

Since the beginning of the week, the farmers have brought out more than 900 tractors along the national Egnatia highway as a warning to the government that if it does not take seriously their requests for additional funding and concessions they will block the road connection between the two largest cities in the country.

There are protest blocks arranged along the highways that pass through the areas of Larissa, Argolis, Kavala, Drama, Ioannina and Ftiodias. "We have not yet closed the highways. The course of the protest depends on the position of the government," said Vangelis Boutas, an agricultural trade union leader and former member of the Greek Communist Party as reported by To Vima.

The farmers insist on seeing in person Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who is currently on an official visit to Qatar. The farmers did not accept the invitation of Secretary General of New Democracy Manolis Kefaloyiannis from the leading party in the coalition government to listen to their demands. The Prime Minister will return to Athens on Friday and the farmers are adamant that he should receive them in order for them to present their problems at the highest level.

Meanwhile, trade union bodies of farmers met with the leader of the parliamentary opposition SYRIZA, Alexis Tsipras, who did not fail to add fuel to the fire. "There is no other way than fighting to win the righteous demands," said Tsipras and supported the active strike. His statements made it clear that there were grounds for the closure of highways and the disconnection of transport links between the northern and southern parts of the country if they contributed to the improvement of agricultural production.

Agricultural trade unionists met with the leader of PASOK, Evangelos Venizelos, where they did not find such strong support as in Tsipras’ office. He said that the problems of the farmers would be the first ones to be discussed in the upcoming talks between the political leaders who support the government. "As we have had positive results with the problem of public transport means, we believe that the political and social maturity of farmers will help avoid difficulties for the citizens," Venizelos said indefinitely as reported by Ethnos. He apparently suggested that if necessary, the government would not hesitate to act with a firm hand to avoid a long-term blockade of highways in the country.

Tags: SocietyTractorsFarmersStrikeEgnatia
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