Greek farmers end blockades, open border crossing

Greek farmers lifted a 30-day blockade at the border crossing with Bulgaria despite the government's refusal to satisfy their financial demands.

Greek farmers end blockades, open border crossing

Greek farmers on Tuesday lifted a 30-day blockade at the border crossing with Bulgaria despite the government's refusal to satisfy their financial demands.

The end of the protest is seen as a good omen for the ruling socialists, who need to impose tough austerity measures to cut a huge deficit and tackle a debt crisis but face union opposition.

"We are ending our protests, we are leaving after 30 days," said Giorgos Kasapoglou, a farmers' representative. "The border crossing with Bulgaria is open."

Farmers had blocked roads and border crossings across the country since mid-January, demanding more subsidies and higher prices for produce, ignoring appeals by businesses and complaints from neighbouring EU-member Bulgaria.

But the protest dwindled after the government urged farmers to give up the protest saying Greece had no money to spare as it struggles to pull the country out of a debt crisis that has sent shockwaves across the euro zone.

"We understand the country is facing a crisis," Kasapoglou said. "They told us there is no money, we feel it's unfair but we agreed on some points and that's why we decided to leave."

The government still faces labour action this month with main unions ADEDY and GSEE on strike Feb.24.

The two unions, which together group half of Greece's 5 million-strong workforce, say the poorest will suffer from a government package designed to bring down the budget deficit from 12.7 percent of GDP last year to under 3 percent in 2012.

On Tuesday, customs offices around the country shut down as customs staff began a 3-day walk-out to protest against the government's austerity measures which they say will lead to cuts in their income. Tax officials will strike on Wednesday.

Although unions are stepping up action, opinion polls show most of Greece's 11 million population back the government's efforts.

Reuters

Last Mod: 16 Şubat 2010, 21:27
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