NEWS

Farmers block roads, await crucial decision

Hundreds of farmers with their tractors remained in the Vale of Tempe yesterday, shutting traffic along the Athens-Thessaloniki highway and postponing a final decision on the extent of their protest for tomorrow. The protest, begun by Thessaly cotton growers demanding higher support prices from the European Union, has been joined by others in central Greece, Thessaly and Macedonia. In the latter province, farmers closed three roads leading to Thessaloniki and blocked two border crossings. They are also poised along the Egnatia highway and many secondary roads, ready to block them. The reason the blocks have not spread yet is that cotton growers have until tomorrow to turn in their produce to warehouses and manufacturers. Also tomorrow, the government will announce the support prices on cotton offered by the EU. Opposition parties have declared their support for the farmers, but only the Communist Party has encouraged the roadblocks. The new roofs over the stadiums – the main one was built 20 years ago – will use steel arcs covered by glass. They will be in blue and white, the colors of the Greek flag. Visitors will walk across the grounds along a corridor covered by woven steel (photo). The plans cost 4.1 billion drachmas (12 million euros). The entire project is scheduled for completion in April 2004, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said. The Games will take place between August 13-29.