Farmers plow through Tsipras offer to hold talks

Farmers plow through Tsipras offer to hold talks

Protesting farmers appeared unmoved Wednesday by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s latest invitation for a discussion about the government’s pension reform proposals.

The head of the committee coordinating farmers’ nationwide protests, Vangelis Boutas, was in Athens Wednesday, where he met the city’s mayor, Giorgos Kaminis.

Farmers from many parts of Greece are planning to protest in the city center tomorrow and camp out in Syntagma Square over the weekend.

Boutas pledged that the protest would be peaceful but said that farmers were not interested in engaging in a dialogue with the government just to be offered “tea and sympathy.”

In public comments before Wednesday’s cabinet meeting, Tsipras reiterated his offer of talks with the protesters. Government sources said that some farmers’ associations have already been in touch regarding a potential meeting. The coalition expects that talks could be arranged after tomorrow’s protest has taken place.

Farmers are protesting substantial rises to their tax and social security contributions. Tsipras indicated, though, the government is not prepared to make wholesale changes to its proposals and accused New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis of “gross irresponsibility” for suggesting that the pension reform plan should be withdrawn.

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