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Protesters burnt the EU flag in Athens

19 February 2014 / 21:02:42  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

Over 4,000 people participated in today's general protest of farmers organized by the coordination committee of blockades in Athens. Farmers and stockbreeders from around the country had arrived in Athens on buses and their colleagues from the islands on ships at the port of Piraeus.

They gathered to protest in Vathis Square in central Athens where the representatives of roadblocks expressed their strong dissatisfaction with the government policy.

Shortly before the speech of president of the coordinating committee of blockades, Vangelis Boutas, three young men stood before the crowd and set fire to the flag of the European Union. It was not clear who they were as the protest involved members of the youth wing of the Communist Party of Greece as well as of SYRIZA and Independent Greeks. The representatives of the communists outnumbered the others, which is probably due to the fact that Boutas is a long-time memberof the party and candidate for the post of governor of Thessaly.

In his speech, he opposed the tax on farmers planned by the government. "Average farmers are struggling to survive," he said, adding, "We know that the new measures and the Common Agricultural Policy are accelerating the concentration of agricultural production and agricultural land in the hands of a small group of people which will mean unemployment for small and medium farmers." According to Boutas each blockade will decide tomorrow how to intensify their protests whereas on 9 March they are all going to mark the anniversary of the peasant revolt held in the village of Kileler near Larissa in 1904.

The massive procession headed to Syntagma Square after the two-hour meeting. The farmers were shouting anti-government slogans and on Stadiou street they were joined by a small group of school guards who were protesting against their inclusion in the mobility programme of the public sector.

When they arrived in front of the parliament building the farmers stood outside the fence and continued protesting whereas Vangelis Boutas and several members of the coordinating committee of blockades delivered a protest petition to the parliament.

Earlier, the employees of both metallurgical enterprises "Halivourgia" (owned by the Manesis group of companies) and "Halivourgiki" (owned by the Angelopoulos family) had protested against the upcoming mass layoffs. The management body of the first company informed its 120 employees that it could currently pay them compensations without being sure that it would be able to do so in the coming weeks.

The company owned by the Angelopoulos family announced that it had decided to discontinue its operations after 31 March. The employees held roadblocks along the Athens - Corinth road near the building of "Halivourgiki." Before the start of their protest in central Athens, farmers from the Peloponnese had stopped to express their support for them.

Tags: SocietyFarmersProtestsRoadblocksFlagEuropean Union
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