Greek PM urges farmers to end blockades

Papandreou called on farmers to end road and customs blockades as the country struggles with its worst financial crisis in decades.

Greek PM urges farmers to end blockades

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou called on farmers on Friday to end road and customs blockades as the country struggles with its worst financial crisis in decades.

Thousands of rice, corn and wheat growers demanding more subsidies and higher prices for produce, blocked main roads and border crossings for a fifth day on Friday, piling pressure on the government as it tries to plug a ballooning deficit.

"I ask farmers to be responsible," Papandreou told lawmakers. "We are in everybody's sights, the country's credibility is judged every day by what we say and what we do."

Bulgaria and Romania urged the European Commission this week to press Greece to reopen border crossings, while Sofia said it would seek 10 million euros ($14.20 million) in compensation, to cover Bulgarian transport companies' losses.

Long queues formed at border crossings in northern Greece while Greek merchant and hotel associations said the protest was hurting revenues.

"These blockades don't solve the problem but create more problems for the country, citizens, businessmen and the economy, at such a crucial point," Papandreou said.

The government has vowed in a three-year plan presented last week to narrow its budget shortfall to 2.8 percent of GDP in 2012 through cuts in welfare spending, tax reforms and savings on public sector wages.

Farmers frequently block roads in winter time in Greece to demand higher prices and grants for their products.

Greece has one of the EU's biggest farming sectors, accounting for about 5 percent of the country's GDP. But most of it consists of small-scale farmers who rely on EU subsidies and guaranteed minimum prices to survive.


Reuters

Last Mod: 22 Ocak 2010, 12:59
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