Protesting farmers stand firm at border

As dozens of farmers continued to block the Promachonas border crossing with Bulgaria yesterday, causing long lines and fueling tensions, protesting colleagues started assessing their gains following three weeks of roadblocks. According to sources, the majority of protesting farmers have accepted that the reforms pledged by the government might not provide the immediate cash support they had initially sought but do offer a crucial temporary grace period for the repayment of some 200 million euros in loans. «This does not mean that the farmers will not be obliged to repay this money later,» a spokesperson for the Agriculture Ministry remarked. Meanwhile at Promachonas – the last bastion of the protesting farmers – hundreds of trucks stood in long lines on either side of the border. Police remained on standby to avert tensions escalating following scuffles between officers and farmers on Wednesday night. The police were called in after the farmers decided to prevent private cars also from crossing the border. The protesters had previously waved through motorists and buses, blocking only trucks. A spokesperson for Serres farmers, who have been blocking the Promachonas crossing for more than three weeks, seriously disrupting trade and transport and straining diplomatic relations, said yesterday that they would not back down. «We are going to stay here until the government satisfies our demands,» the spokesman said.