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Protesting Farmers: new collision front for Greek government

Protesting farmers moved their tractors near the national highway, just kilometers away from the city of Larissa on Tuesday morning threatening to block the traffic in Greece’s North-South axis.  However the farmers were hindered from parking their tractors on the highway by strong riot police forces.

Tension was high between farmers and police, when the first attempted to move some 60 tractors in order to block the highway traffic. However some 200 farmers managed indeed to block the traffic when they moved to the highway on foot.

Farmers claim that this year’s production is at risk to collapse due to lack of liquidity and dramatic increase of taxation.

Speaking to SYRIZA’s newspaper Avgi, farmers proclaimed to continue their protests at Nikaia intersection as long as it would take.

“It’s not possible that the government speaks about development and refuses to deal with the farmers. They, up there, need to understand that farmers need motivation and the the agricultural production is a national issue.”

The farmers complained about the riot police presence and claimed that “the government chooses the policy of thugs instead that of dialogue, something it does with all groups taking to the streets and express demands.”

According to latest information, the farmers plan to continue their protests at least until upcoming Thursday. Earlier on Tuesday, farmers representatives had meetings with coalition government partners PASOK and Democratic Left, with opposition parties like SYRIZA and Independent Greeks.

The list of farmers’ demand is quite long:

1. Compensation for damaged cotton producers as crops were affected by ‘green worm’ in 2012 and that peach producers will be finally paid after 7 months.

2. Tax-free fuel

3. 30% cheaper electricity

4. Tax exemption for annual income up to 20,000 euro and up to 40,000 euro family income

5. Low-price cap guarantee for their products

6. No taxation to agricultural land

7. Oppose additional taxes and emergency property tax to electricity bills

8. Oppose retirement age raise form 65 to 67

9. Interest-rates free loans for poor farmers

Further, the farmers claim that the ‘bad part” of Agricultural Bank refuses to accept settlement requests for older loans and sends them seizure notifications.

The farmers from Central Greece is the next conflict front for the Greek government after the public transport workers.

Odd enough, farmers from central Greece have a tradition of being voters of conservative parties like Samaras’ Nea Dimocratia.







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