Greek farmers furious over government policies, including tax hikes, that have upped their cost of doing business said they will put their tractors on the roads on Jan. 28 in a symbolic blockade, but will move to stop traffic unless their demands are not met.
After a meeting of farmers from across the country, representatives said they are determined to stifle traffic on the roads if the austerity measures aren’t pulled back.
Vangelis Boutas, head of the farmers union in Karditsa, speaking with the website Newsit, said farmers would deploy their tractors in breakdown lanes of national roads on Jan. 28. Symbolic blockades will be set at key intersections in a number of prefectures around the country as well as on Crete.
The farmers said if their demands are not met after meetings with political leaders, they will move ahead by blocking roads around the country. The Vice-President of the farmers’ movement, Costas Liliopoulos, told the Athens News Agency that the farmers meeting represented those from all around Greece. “There’s a big uproar heating up. Today’s meeting, where it was decided that … all the tractors are going out has been unprecedented. There will be a very big movement,” he said.
He said the farmers want to meet major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras, as well as two of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ coalition partners, PASOK Socialist head Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left chief Fotis Kouvelis, as well as ministerial officials overseeing agricultural development and finance.
“If we take the tractors off the roads depends on the meetings (with officials,)” he said. “If the result isn’t satisfactory we will close the roads indefinitely. We will be everywhere, on the national roads, the ports, the airports, customs offices and northern borders,” he warned. “It is an issue of the government, how much our demands will be satisfied. If the meetings prove fruitless a mosquito won’t be able to pass,” he added.
The basic demands of the farmers, he said, are very serious and concern the cost of fuel, production and taxes, which he stressed, “may be the biggest trap.”