Despite growing divisions among protesting farmers and the fact that some have approached the government for talks on tax and pension reforms, many road pickets remained in place around Greece on Wednesday.
Farmers continued to man the blocks at the Promachonas and Kipoi border crossings in northern Greece, at Tempe in central Greece and at the Corinth Canal, west of Athens, among others. It is estimated that there were still around 100 such pickets in place Wednesday, prompting government officials to express concern about the burgeoning economic impact of the protests.
However, splits are appearing among the protesting groups. Not all farmers took part in Friday’s protests in Athens and it emerged Wednesday that three groups have sent proposals to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on how the dispute over pension and tax reforms could be resolved.
This has provided encouragement to the government that a solution might be found. However, the toll that the lengthy protests, which have been going for almost a month, are taking was evident Wednesday when Deputy Transport Minister Panayiotis Sgouridis tendered his resignation after appearing to suggest in a radio interview that Tsipras had intentionally lied to the farmers in order to get elected.
“Unfortunately, politicians are not judged on what they do but what they say,” he told Maximum FM in Alexandroupoli. “If you don’t make promises, they don’t vote for you.”
Sgouridis, an Independent Greeks (ANEL) MP, later issued a statement saying he did not intend to give the impression that Tsipras had lied. However, his comments are thought to have angered ANEL leader and Defense Minister Panos Kammenos.