NEWS

Farmers vow to stay on the road

Farmers manning 12 roadblocks in central and northern Greece yesterday decided to remain put, despite some of their colleagues abandoning their protest at the end of last week. The farmers from Thessaly and Macedonia met yesterday for talks in Tyrnavos, central Greece, and decided to continue blocking national roads until the government changed its «intransigent stance.» Producers and livestock breeders have for the past three weeks been demanding more subsidies and better prices for their products as well as reforms in the agricultural sector. However, the government has made it clear that the dire state of the Greek economy means that it cannot allocate any more funds to farming. The decision of the central and northern Greek farmers was mirrored by those who have been blocking the Promahonas border crossing with Bulgaria in recent days. They too decided yesterday to continue with their blockade but clarified that they would only stop trucks from crossing the border, not cars. The Promahonas blockade has already incurred the wrath of the Bulgarian government, which wrote to the European Commission on Friday to detail the losses that the country’s economy is suffering as a result of trade with Greece being held up. In the letter, Sofia claimed that Bulgarian exports to Greece have fallen by 40 percent in recent weeks and that 110 businesses in the neighboring country report that they have suffered losses as a result of the blockades. In addition, the Bulgarians indicated that the number of Greek tourists heading across the border fell by 5 percent in January. They also said that imports from Greece have been hit, adding that some 90 percent of oranges and 75 percent of mandarins that are brought into the country come from Greece. Meanwhile, tobacco and cotton producers yesterday requested face-to-face talks with Agricultural Development Minister Katerina Batzeli to seek clarification about the 560-million-euro subsidies that she has pledged to them.