NEWS

Reform protests hit roads, borders

Opposition to Kallikratis, a government plan to redraw local government boundaries, grew yesterday with residents of a small town in northern Greece blocking the Egnatia Highway for the fifth day while protesters in Crete tried to occupy Iraklio Airport and communities close to the Bulgarian and Turkish borders prepared to block two crossings tomorrow. Residents of the small town of Siatista, near Kozani in northern Greece, continued to disrupt the flow of traffic on the Egnatia Highway yesterday by blocking the Bara junction for the fifth day. The protesters are upset that their town has not been made the capital of Voios Municipality. Locals in the municipalities of Trigono, Kyprino and Vyssa are also angry with the Kallikratis plan. They want their three municipalities to be merged, as has been the case in other parts of the country. They are threatening to block the crossings of Ormenio and Kipoi, on the Bulgarian and Turkish borders respectively, all day tomorrow, to press their demands. «Our three municipalities fulfill all the preconditions set out in Kallikratis to be unified into one,» said Trigono Mayor Manolis Hatzipanayiotou. Police on Crete yesterday afternoon removed a group of protesters who had cut through the wire fence surrounding Iraklio Airport which they had planned to occupy in a symbolic protest against the Kallikratis plan. In Halkidiki, residents of the municipalities of Triglia, Moudania and Kallikrateia are also up in arms over the reforms. In their case, they oppose plans to merge their communities into one. In Athens, street market traders joined the protests against the reforms which, they say, would give local authorities control over the operation of the markets. «We will not allow street markets to become a vehicle for the serving of party political interests,» said a statement by the union, which has called on members to join a blockade of the Economy, Competitiveness and Merchant Marine Ministry on Mesogeion Avenue this afternoon.