Farmers remove some blocks, raise others

Farmers yesterday appeared to scale back their protests after three weeks, with several roadblocks coming to an end in central and northern Greece. But some blockades remained in place, including one at the Promachonas crossing at the Bulgarian border which has caused huge problems with cross-border trade, while a couple of new ones appeared. Dozens of farmers withdrew their tractors from 13 roadblocks after their representatives reached a consensus. But they stressed that they were «not leaving with their tails between their legs.» «We’re retreating but we’re not backing down. We are going to wait and see if the government makes good on its promises,» said Stathis Tsaprounis, a unionist representing farmers from a blockade at Elateia in central Greece. Another spokesperson for farmers blocking a junction near Thessaloniki said protesters understood that the cash-strapped government is not in a position to give handouts but that they expected some kind of support. «We’re going to stay a few more days to see if we can get a result, possibly the negotiation of better terms for bank loans» he said. Some new roadblocks sprung up, too. Producers in Achaia prefecture parked their tractors at the Rio toll gates on the Patras-Corinth national road, causing traffic problems. Meanwhile, farmers at the Promachonas border crossing stood firm, causing kilometers-long lines of trucks on both sides of the border. Representatives of the remaining 13 roadblocks in Thessaly and Macedonia were in talks late into the night yesterday to decide whether and how to continue with protest action.

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