Source: naftemporiki.gr, Photo: INTIME NEWS / Kostas Baltas
The two-day "invasion" of farmers from all over Greece started early this morning with the siege of the Ministry of Agricultural Development. Shortly before 9:00 am about 3,000 farmers from Crete gathered around the entrance to the Ministry with a request to submit a protest manifesto and carry out an occupation of the building for several hours.
As the Greek media report, it seems that the employees of the Ministry will leave the building and join the protest march of farmers, although they were expected to stop working from 11:00 am onwards.
Source: kathimerini.gr, Photo: EUROKINISSI / Yannis Panagopoulos
Farmers from 68 blockades across Greece are travelling to Athens. By order of the government, the police have developed a plan with three zones of control in and around the Greek capital, the goal being not to allow farmers to reach Syntagma Square.
Earlier it became clear that farmers from the Peloponnese had tried to pass through the toll desks near Corinth with 15 tractor and told SKAI TV that they had such an arrangement with the police. The police, however, are refusing to allow the tractors to pass and farmers are insisting on their demand.
At the same time, farmers from the roadblocks in northern Greece are travelling to Athens, not with tractors but by six buses. About 20 farmers’ tractors set off from the blockade near the village of Nicaea to Larissa at 5:00 am. It is believed that it will take them about 10 hours to arrive in Athens.
It is worth noting that the police are checking the heavy trucks at the toll desks to Afidnes to ensure that they are not carrying farm tractors.
In line with the announcement of government spokesman Olga Gerovasili two days ago that the traffic police would not allow tractors to enter Athens, the first control zone includes the region of Attica farmers’ blockages, namely the section of the toll desks in Afidnes, the junction of Markopoulo, Kalamaki Maratonas, Pachi Megaro and the 57th kilometre of the Athens - Lamia highway.
The second zone guarded by the police covers the Greek capital on all sides, from the northern suburb of Agia Paraskevi to the port of Piraeus. The third and last area includes the central Athens Vati Square, where the Ministry of Agricultural Development is located, to Syntagma Square, where there are numerous riot forces.
The union of public employees ADEDY has announced that it will join the protest of farmers. It will organize a protest rally in Klafthmonos Square at 05:00 pm and a march to parliament. In parallel, doctors, lawyers and other freelancers have also announced the holding of rallies in front of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance.
Tensions in the centre of Athens began shortly before 10:00 am, when dozens of farmers turned to the police, waving in the air the typical Crete wooden crooks. As a result, the members of the riot forces began to flee in the opposite direction. Farmers were angry because the police did not allow a truck from the island loaded with fruit and vegetables to stop outside the Ministry. They had planned to give away their products to citizens.
The streets around Vati Square were covered with tomatoes and tensions escalated. Farmers caused damage to the building of the Ministry of Agricultural Development and the police used smoke bombs to repel them.
After a series of violent clashes, the police have detained four farmers.
Farmers from the Peloponnese and other regions are travelling to Athens. Meanwhile, farmers have pitched the first tents in Syntagma Square, where they are planning to stay at least until Sunday. They have also unloaded a certain amount of tangerines to give them away to citizens.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Citizen Protection Nikos Toskas reproached farmers for their decision to attack the Ministry of Agricultural Development. In statements to the state television ERT he said that 10 policemen were injured during the clashes.
New clashes started shortly before 01:00 pm, this time near the Athens suburb of Haidari. The reason was that despite the lengthy negotiations the police did not allow the Peloponnese farmers to continue to Athens with their tractors. Upon the refusal on the part of the police forces, farmers attacked them with stones and cement pieces. The riot police forces deployed on the road responded with tear gas.