Bulgaria, Romania ask EU to stop Greek border closure

Bulgaria and Romania urged the European Commission to stop Greek border closure.

Bulgaria, Romania ask EU to stop Greek border closure

Bulgaria and Romania urged the European Commission on Tuesday to press neighbouring Greece to reopen border crossings blocked by protesting farmers, government officials said.

Sofia will also seek 10 million euros ($14.3 million) in compensation to cover losses suffered by transport companies after Greek farmers, demanding higher prices for their produce, blocked two main border crossings for a second day.

"This is a precedent ... to have an inner border of the European Union closed down and we, together with our Romanian colleagues and the Hungarians, to be suffering losses," Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said.

"I do expect an urgent reaction from the European Commission and I appeal to the Greek authorities to take the necessary measures," he told reporters.

In joint letter to the EU's executive, Bulgarian and Romanian agriculture ministers demanded that Brussels force the Greek government to unblock the border and avoid adding economic pain to their firms in times of global economic crisis.

Rice, corn and cotton growers have also blocked the road between Athens and Thessaloniki.

Talks

In Athens, officials said they were holding talks with the farmers to lift the blockades and address their demands.

"I believe roads should not be blocked, especially when the government shows goodwill and has submitted proposals on market issues and on prices," Greek Agriculture Minister Katerina Batzeli told Greek Skai radio on Tuesday.

"We need to convince farmers we are determined to put their issues on the centre stage of our economic and social policy."

Some of the border checkpoints between Greece and Bulgaria have been opened temporarily for a few hours a day, but trucks carrying agricultural produce and timber from Bulgaria and elsewhere in eastern Europe are not allowed to cross.

A long queue has formed at the main border checkpoint, Kulata-Promachonas, some 170 km (100 miles) south of Sofia, border police said.

Greek farmers often block roads in winter to demand higher prices and subsidies for their produce.

Last January, Greek farmers blocked Bulgarian-Greek border crossings for two weeks, causing serious losses for Bulgarian hauliers.


Reuters


Last Mod: 20 Ocak 2010, 15:30
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