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Farmers begin scheduled blockades of the country's roads

23 January 2016 / 20:01:58  GRReporter
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At today's meeting at the Tembi Pass, protesting farmers decided to intensify their actions. Tomorrow and on Monday they will close the highways from 12:00 to 14:00 and from 19:00 to 21:00. From 30 to 50 blockades will be activated throughout the country during these two-hour periods.

Farmers also agreed on a common plan of protest against the pension and the tax reform, as well as against high production costs, said the representative of the Tembi blockade's coordination council, Vangelis Papagianoulis, after the meeting.

It was attended by representatives of 30 farmer blockades from all over Greece. Livestock breeders and fishermen had a particularly strong representation. Livestock farmers spilled milk on the asphalt and set bales of hay on fire. They came to Tembi riding tractors adorned with black flags, bells and animal hides, some of them dressed in traditional costumes.

As blockades in the country are still being built, there will be another meeting in Thessaloniki on Tuesday where farmers will try to bring together the different groups so as to form a strong representative group, which will then make its way to the government headquarters.

Participants in the meeting decided to hold a rally in Thessaloniki on Thursday, when the Agrotica 2016 farm exhibition will open its doors.

While farmers were holding their talks, it transpired that the prime minister had expressed his will to meet with their representatives and hear the industry's demands.

This decision was taken after Tsipras' meeting with the Minister of Agricultural Development and Food, Evangelos Apostolos, and deputy minister Markos Bolaris. According to the prime minister's associates, the government is worried, just like the farmers, about agricultural output and the state of farmers' income. Tsipras has stated that he remains open to dialogue.

Farmers, however, are determined to split the country right down the middle until the government backtracks on its intended pension and tax reforms.

Meanwhile, the Tembi Pass has been closed to vehicles from 12:00 today, as police said yesterday. Alternative routes have been set up for motorists. The nicaea blockade also continues to swell, with roughly 2500 tractors being lined up there.

The Exohi and Promachonas checkpoints at the Bulgarian border were closed for two hours until 15:30 today. Tomorrow at noon, the checkpoints at the Greek-Albanian border will see similar actions. The long line of tractors has virtually closed the Ormenion crossing at the Bulgarian-Greek border as well.

Tags: protests farmers blockades tractors pension reform meeting Tempe
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