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 Greek farmers preparing to block border crossing points with Bulgaria

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PostSubject: Greek farmers preparing to block border crossing points with Bulgaria   Thu Jan 14, 2010 4:49 pm

[size=75:wvjt0fbj]Sofia echo 14 January 2010

Greek farmers preparing to block border crossing points with Bulgaria

Greek farmers are set to block all three border crossing points with Bulgaria in a protest meant to last five days, Bulgarian and Greek media have reported. Initially, the strike action was supposed to go into effect on January 15 2010.

However, Greek trade unions later said that the final decision on the issue would be taken on January 18.

Concerning the protest, Bulgaria's Transport Ministry asked the Foreign Ministry to contact Greek authorities and "
ensure that a free corridor would be left out for all Bulgarian vehicles,"
Dnevnik daily reported on January 14.

As part of the request, the Bulgarian side acknowledged the right of the Greek farmers to protest and voice their discontent but only if that "
does not violate the basic rights and interests of other European Union member states"
.

If its request was not granted, Bulgaria was ready to take the issue with the European Commission, Dnevnik reported.

Bulgarian business is likely to be affected, especially lorries carrying goods that need refrigeration and other special treatment.

Earlier on January 14, Bulgarian media reported that Bulgarian border police reportedly received a tip-off from police chiefs in Northern Greece that farmers could blockade the border checkpoints as early as January 15 as part of a concerted effort to block vital motorways in the country.

Greek farmers, protesting over subsidies, fear that the strike would be declared illegal and the farmers would be arrested if they proceed with their plans, reports said.

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PostSubject: Greek farmers preparing to block border crossing points with Bulgaria   Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:03 pm

Just to add to the above here's a bit more from Focus

On Monday, January 18, the Greek trade unions will make the final decision whether the borders will be blocked. This is the latest information, Bulgarian consul general in Thessaloniki Lachezar Ivanov told FOCUS News Agency.
On the one hand, there are worries the protestors’ blockade could be declared illegal and the police could arrest them. For now the official information is for blockade of Exohi-Gotse Delchev checkpoint on the Greek-Bulgarian border and Evzoni-Gevgelija checkpoint on the Greek-Macedonian border. For now Promahon-Kulata checkpoint on the Greek-Bulgarian border is not mentioned although the police in Serres express concern the road between Serres and Thessaloniki could be temporarily closed, he added.
Bulgarian Ministry of Transport, Information Technology and Communications sent a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday, asking Greece to ensure a corridor for Bulgarian vehicles. The request comes after the reports that Greek farmers plan to protest as of January 15, blocking completely the three checkpoints on the common border, the Ministry of Transport, Information Technology and Communications announced.
The letter says that Bulgaria accepts the EU citizens’ right to voice their position and Greek farmers’ right to protest, but not in this case in which the protest violates basic rights and freedoms of other EU citizens.
When the border checkpoints at Bulgarian-Greek border are blocked, the road carriers in Bulgaria and other in other EU member states suffer the big loses. Big part of the road carriers are transporting good with low sell-by-date. However, according to the law, Bulgaria cannot put in a claim for damages and concrete loses of the Bulgarian transport companies.
This is what chairperson of the National Union of Road Carriers Rumen Krumov said for FOCUS News Agency commenting on the information about Greek farmers’ protest and the intention to block the three border checkpoints on Greek-Bulgarian border.According to him Bulgarian authorities should take harder position on impossibility of our transport companies to travel through Greece without problems, According to Krumov the tone of the diplomatic representatives should be sharper than the usual.
“The approach of Greek authorities towards this type of actions is very soft. According to us this is unacceptable. In the view to the legislation, such a protest, which will close the roads for indefinite period of time, can hardly succeed in Bulgaria,” Krumov said.
In his words the Bulgarian legislation envisages very big restrictions and sanctions for those who block roads, while Greek authorities seem to tolerate those actions.

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PostSubject: Greek farmers preparing to block border crossing points with Bulgaria   Fri Jan 15, 2010 6:21 pm

[size=75:2dxns29u]novinite 15 January 2010

Greek Farmers Lift Blockade at Bulgaria Border, Worse to Come

Protesting Greek farmers have lifted the blockade at the Ilinden-Eksohi border crossing point on the Bulgaria-Greece border.

Traffic in the area has been restored, the Bulgarian authorities at the border report Friday.

Around 2 pm the Greek farmers with nearly 200 tractors and other farming equipment blocked the border cross point on the Greek side.

The farmers are protesting unpaid subsidies and demand better prices for their production.

The blockade has been lifted at 4 pm, but the worse is yet to come since the demonstrators say the real rally is scheduled for Monday, January 18, when the other cross point at Kulata-Promahon will also be blocked.

On January 21 2009, Greek farmers, protesting against unpaid EU subsidies and falling commodity prices, invaded with their tractors Bulgaria's territory close to the Kulata border crossing point. The blockade escalated and on January 23 all three crossing points at the Bulgaria-Greece border were closed. The protests triggered huge, kilometer-long lines and difficulties for commercial truck drivers and travelers. The Kulata-Promahon crossing point did not reopen until the end of the first week in February.

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PostSubject: Greek farmers preparing to block border crossing points with Bulgaria   Sat Jan 16, 2010 5:20 pm

[size=75:elps6s8m]novinite 16 January 2010

Greek Farmers Set to Block Bulgaria Border for 10 Days

Protesting Greek farmers are set to block the Bulgarian border for 10 days from Monday, it became clear after a meeting between local government officials from Greece and Bulgaria.

The Deputy Chair of the Blagoevgrad municipality, Georgi Bahanov, confirmed the news after speaking to his Greek counterpart from Serres. Bahanov, along with the Bulgarian Interior Ministry, also urged Bulgarians not to take trips to Greece by road over the next 10 days to stop traffic congestion at the border.

The Greek farmers lifted the blockade at the Ilinden-Eksohi border crossing point on the Bulgaria-Greece border late Friday but will now protest at Ilinden-Eksohi and the Kulata-Promahon border crossing from Monday. Neither cars or trucks will be allowed to cross the border at Kulata, with only cars allowed to cross at the Gotse Delchev crossing.

The farmers are protesting against unpaid subsidies and demand better prices for their production.

On January 21 2009, Greek farmers, protesting against unpaid EU subsidies and falling commodity prices, invaded with their tractors Bulgaria's territory close to the Kulata border crossing point. The blockade escalated and on January 23 all three crossing points at the Bulgaria-Greece border were closed. The protests triggered huge, kilometer-long lines and difficulties for commercial truck drivers and travelers. The Kulata-Promahon crossing point did not reopen until the end of the first week in February.

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PostSubject: Greek farmers preparing to block border crossing points with Bulgaria   Sat Jan 16, 2010 5:35 pm

Not looking good for anyone thinking of using this border to get in or out of Bulgaria
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PostSubject: Greek farmers preparing to block border crossing points with Bulgaria   Sat Jan 16, 2010 6:35 pm

decisions decisions Lets hope they get it sorted

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PostSubject: Greek farmers preparing to block border crossing points with Bulgaria   Sat Jan 16, 2010 9:27 pm

From what I can gather its 3 borders they are blocking

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PostSubject: Greek farmers preparing to block border crossing points with Bulgaria   Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:48 am

[size=75:2uiebvvm]novinite 18 January 2010

Latest update

Greek Farmers Protests at Bulgarian Border Escalate

Protesting Greek farmers are set to block the Bulgarian border for ten days from Monday as they rally against unpaid subsidies and low prices for their production.

The Greek farmers lifted the blockade at the Ilinden-Eksohi border crossing point on the Bulgaria-Greece border late Friday but will now protest at Ilinden-Eksohi and the Kulata-Promahon border crossing from Monday. Neither cars or trucks will be allowed to cross the border at Kulata, with only cars allowed to cross at the Gotse Delchev crossing.

The farmer protests also figured high in Bulgarian news headlines, after the Bulgarian transport and interior ministries warned Bulgarians to avoid travelling by road to Greece for the next 10 days in case border crossings between the two countries were closed during farmer protests.

Among those visiting the blockades were Greek MPs like former agriculture minister Sotiris Hatzigakis and current Citizens' Protection Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis, who spoke with farmers at length about production costs and the gap in the price paid to farmers for their produce and that paid by consumers, Athens News Agency reported.

The minister has promised measures that would benefit markets and consumers.

Deputy Finance Minister Philippos Sahinidis has stressed during a visit to the farmer blockade in Alamana that the critical state of the economy left no room for any further cash support.

The farmers fired back by6 by saying that this was money that was "
theirs"
and should have been paid to them. According to them the numbers cited as agricultural benefits in the media were inflated and that such sums had never reached them.

At the end of January last year Greek farmers protesting against unpaid EU subsidies and falling commodity prices, invaded with their tractors Bulgaria's territory close to the Kulata border crossing point. The blockade escalated and on January 23 all three crossing points at the Bulgaria-Greece border were closed.

The protests triggered huge, kilometer-long lines and difficulties for commercial truck drivers and travelers. The Kulata-Promahon crossing point did not reopen until the end of the first week in February.

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PostSubject: Greek farmers preparing to block border crossing points with Bulgaria   Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:55 am

[size=75:132noyxt]Sofia echo 18 January 2010

Latest

One Greece-Bulgaria border pass blocked only for lorries, three working normally


raffic at the Ilinden–Exohi border checkpoint between Bulgaria and Greece was open on the morning of January 18 2010, with private vehicles and buses allowed to pass but lorries were being stopped, Bulgarian daily Dnevnik said.

The Greek farmers strike was scheduled to start at 11am on January 18 and the farmers duly sealed off the border, but only for lorries. According to Greek authorities, lorries queuing on the border would be allowed to trickle through between 3pm until 5pm. However, vehicles ferrying timber and dairy products would not be allowed to pass, Dnevnik said.

For the time being, the other three border crossing points between Bulgaria and Greece were operating normally, although it was uncertain for how long.

Bulgaria's Interior Ministry and border police have warned Bulgarians not to travel to Greece unless "
absolutely necessary"
. Authorities say that any trips to Greece while the blockade is enforced are likely to result in "
serious delays, traffic jams and substantial financial losses"
.

Greek daily Kathimerini said that more farmers from Serres were expected to descend on the Promachonas crossing on the border with Bulgaria from January 18, and that wider protests could follow in coming days as farmers stepped up their demands. The blockades are expected to last at least five days.

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PostSubject: Greek farmers preparing to block border crossing points with Bulgaria   Tue Jan 19, 2010 9:40 am

[size=75:27okha1v]novinite 19 January 2010

Greece Sues Protesting Farmers

The prosecutor's office in the town of Thessaloniki has launched legal proceedings against the militant Greek farmers, who used tractors and farm machinery to block crossings with Bulgaria and Macedonia in the first widespread protests against the socialist government’s austerity policies.

In a document, sent to the police headquarters at Thessaloniki, the prosecutors say that hampering road traffic constitutes a crime and that in order for the law to be abided by legal prosecution is needed.

Protestors set up barricades of farm vehicles at several junctions on the main north-south highway linking Thessaloniki with Athens, diverting hundreds of TIR trucks to secondary roads.

Bulgarian authorities warned transport companies to stay away from the Greek border crossing and threatened to approach Brussels, seeking compensations for the losses, incurred on the Bulgarian companies.

The protests are expected to continue until the end of the week despite the warning of the Greek and Bulgarian authorities.



Partial blockade at Greek border continues

The Kulata-Promahon border crossing point between Bulgaria and Greece has been sealed off to all traffic by the Greek farmers' protests, Bulgarian National Television (BNT) reported on January 19 2010.

There is already a bottleneck of more than 20 lorries at the border according to reports. Overnight, about 80 vehicles were allowed to go through, including private cars and some lorries. According to the BNT, Greek farmers at Promahon were very "
inconsistent"
with their statements and "
unreliable"
in their actions because they would constantly change their mind as to whether they would allow traffic through.

Reports claim that they would initially allow private vehicles to pass, then they would permit lorries to pass as well, then they would change their minds and block all traffic.

Meanwhile, the situation at the Ilinden-Exohi border crossing point is reportedly the same as on January 18. All vehicles except those ferrying dairy products and other agricultural produce are allowed to pass.

According to Dnevnik daily, reports from Greek authorities suggest that the border crossing point at Zlatograd will probably remain operating on January 19.

However, motorists are advised to avoid travelling to Greece, because even if they do pass through the borders, they are likely to encounter blockades along the 11 major arteries which are also being sealed off for traffic.

In order to relieve the strain and facilitate the situation, the Bulgarian Frontier Police are working with Macedonian counterparts to ease traffic regulations along the Bulgarian-Macedonian crossing points.

Greek daily Kathimerini said that more farmers from Serres were expected to descend on the Promachonas crossing on the border with Bulgaria from January 18, and that wider protests could follow in coming days as farmers stepped up their demands. The blockades are expected to last at least five days.

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PostSubject: Greek farmers preparing to block border crossing points with Bulgaria   Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:45 am

I feel sorry for all concerned here but this isn’t the way to sort it out why is that when something at government level goes wrong its Joe public that ends up paying
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PostSubject: Greek farmers preparing to block border crossing points with Bulgaria   Tue Jan 19, 2010 1:07 pm

[size=75:2rdaeazc]Sofia echo 19 January 2010

Boiko Borissov demands 6M euro compensation over Greek border blockade

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov has held an emergency meeting with the European Commission in light of the ongoing border blockade caused by Greek farmers which is hurting the Bulgarian economy, Dnevnik daily reported on January 19 2010.

Borissov told Bulgarian media that he had held discussions with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barosso on January 19 during which he had requested six million euro in compensation.

"
Many European Union directives are being violated. This is not Bulgaria's problem and there is no reason why this country should bear the brunt of the problem,"
Borissov was quoted as saying by Dnevnik.

"
The Greeks, with all due respect, can protest all they like in their own country, but they should not shut our borders. There is a law assuring the free travel of people and freight across the borders within the European Union. Who gives them the right to stop our lorries? This doesn't even happen in the Somalian Gulf,"
Borissov added.

"
Why are the Greeks protesting now, and not in the summer when they have to do the harvest, or at Easter when more than 50 000 Bulgarians go to their country on a holiday? They do it now because they have nothing better to do."


Finally, the Bulgarian Prime Minister said that the Government had submitted an official complaint to the Greek government, as well as the European commission, in which it was said bluntly "
we feel for your problems, but enough is enough"
.

Currently the Kulata-Promahon border crossing point between Bulgaria and Greece has been sealed off to all traffic by the Greek farmers' protests, Bulgarian National Television (BNT) reported on January 19 2010.

There is already a bottleneck of lorries at the border, according to reports. Overnight, about 80 vehicles were allowed to go through, including private cars and some lorries. According to the BNT, Greek farmers at Promahon were very "
inconsistent"
with their statements and "
unreliable"
in their actions because they would constantly change their mind as to whether they would allow traffic through.

In order to relieve the strain and facilitate the situation, the Bulgarian Frontier Police are working with Macedonian counterparts to ease traffic regulations along the Bulgarian-Macedonian crossing points.

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PostSubject: Greek farmers preparing to block border crossing points with Bulgaria   Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:57 pm

[size=75:3jq7cm7f]novinite 20 January 2010

20-km Line of Trucks at Blockaded Bulgaria-Greece Border

he situation at the major crossing point on the Bulgaria-Greece border – Kulata-Promahonos - is worsening as a result of the blockade imposed by protesting Greek farmers.

This has been stated by the District Governor of Blagoevgrad, Valeri Smilenov, as cited by BTA, who has announced that Wednesday afternoon the line of waiting trucks is about 6 km long on the Bulgarian side of the border, and about 13 km on the Greek side.

“This is a crisis situation, and it is getting worse. There is a total lack of dialogue, and we cannot give any specific information about the intentions of the protesting Greek farmers even though at the beginning they assured us that there would be talks every day, and “windows” of letting vehicles through. Yet, as of now, there is an all-out blockade,” he explained as cited by BTA.

According to the Bulgarian Consul in Thessaloniki, half of all trucks waiting on Greek territory are Bulgarian. Some drivers have been waiting in the line for two days, without proper sanitation and food supply even though the Greek police have given out sandwiches.

The protesting Greek farmers have stated they would pull out their tractors blocking the international roads only when they receive the money from promised agricultural subsidies. They have also raised demands for higher selling prices of their agricultural produce.

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PostSubject: Greek farmers preparing to block border crossing points with Bulgaria   Thu Jan 21, 2010 4:42 pm

[size=75:n97675io]Sofia echo 21 January 2010

Bulgarian lorries threaten to shut Greek border at Easter in retaliation

Bulgarian lorries are threatening to have the Greek border shut in the days around the Easter holidays if Greek farmers do not lift the blockade "
immediately"
, Dnevnik daily reported on January 21 2010.

Bulgarian transport companies were incurring losses estimated at more than 150 000 euro a day while the Bulgarian economy was being hit with more than three million euro a day in losses, according to reports in Bulgarian media.

"
If the Greeks don't lift the blockade by January 22, we will inform Prime Minister Boiko Borissov that we will have the border shut at Easter,"
Angel Popov, head of the National Carriers Union (NCU) in Bulgaria was quoted as saying by Dnevnik.

NCU deputy chairperson Krassimir Lalov said that when Greek farmers staged similar protests in 2009, which included similar border blockades, losses incurred by Bulgarian companies surpassed 10 million euro, receiving no compensation.

"
Our patience is wearing thin. If this carries on, we will stage a blockade of our own,"
Lalov said.

Greek farmers have blocked the border checkpoints for a fourth straight day in January 21, staunchly refusing to give in to Greek government pressure and Bulgarian demands for them to clear out.

According to Ta Nea, Greek prosecutors have threatened action against the farmers, but that has not weathered farmers' enthusiasm and the traffic between Bulgaria and Greece is still severely obstructed.

Beyond the border, major roads in Greece remain blocked, while overnight the Koulata–Promahon border crossing was opened for 30 minutes, allowing only lorries with time-sensitive foodstuffs to pass through.

Central Greece, Thessalia, and the roads leading to the northern Greek port town of Kavala are also shut for traffic.

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PostSubject: Greek farmers preparing to block border crossing points with Bulgaria   Thu Jan 21, 2010 6:29 pm

Seems to be going from bad to worse
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