Angry farmers block roads for fifth day

Thousands of farmers continued to block border crossings and key road junctions yesterday in a fifth day of protests aimed at pressing the government to improve an aid offer. Addressing parliament yesterday, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said there was no scope for the government to improve on a 500-million-euro aid offer extended to farmers on Thursday. Unsurprisingly, talks between Agricultural Development Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis and unionists failed to bear fruit. Farmers, who are protesting falling commodities' prices, have said they want an increase in the aid package and precise details about subsidies per hectare. One of the most stubborn of yesterday's blockades was at Nikaia, near Larissa. Farmers also kept their tractors in place at the junction of Tempe, shutting off the Athens-Thessaloniki national highway, at Mikrothives, near the central town of Volos and at Kastro in Viotia. There were also several blockades at border crossings, including the Promachonas crossing in Serres, the site of clashes between farmers and truck drivers earlier this week. Yesterday truck drivers burnt raw meat during counter-blockades at border crossings to protest the farmers' action, which has hampered the transport of goods across the country.