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Greek farmers decide to take their protests to Athens and expand roadblock campaign

Greek farmers angry at high production costs say they will step up a roadblock campaign and take their protests to Athens, after rejecting government-proposed concessions

Via AP news wire
Thursday 15 February 2024 15:13 GMT
Greece Europe Farmers
Greece Europe Farmers (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Greek farmers angry at high production costs on Thursday said they would step up a roadblock campaign and take their protests to Athens, after rejecting government-proposed concessions.

Following a nationwide meeting of farmer unionists near the town of Larissa in central Greece, representatives said protesters would drive their tractors to the capital for a rally next Tuesday.

Union organizer Rizos Maroudas said farmers in other parts of Greece would also block highways, harbors and border crossings on that day.

“We want the people of Athens to treat the rally as something that's in their own interest too, because to ... reduce our production costs can bring quality and cheap produce to every family's table,” he told journalists after the meeting.

In recent months, similar protests have swept Europe as farmers on the continent took their grievances over inflation, foreign competition and the costs of combating climate change to the streets.

Maroudas and other unionists met in Athens on Tuesday with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who proposed slashing farmers' energy costs. The government insists it lacks the budgetary leeway to offer broader concessions.

But farmers said Thursday the proposal didn't go far enough to address their demands, which include tax cuts on fuel and faster payment of compensation for lost produce. Farms in Greece's breadbasket of Thessaly suffered extensive damage during deadly floods last year.

“Our main demands haven't been met, and we believe that by continuing and stepping up our protests ... we have a chance of the government meeting our demands,” Maroudas said.

He added that farmers would also seek to block roads across the country in the buildup to the Athens rally.

So far, protesters have confined their protests to relatively brief blocks of mostly local roads, while police have prevented efforts to disrupt traffic on key highways.

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