Saturday, January 24, 2009

Unrest continues to persist in Greece. This week Greek farmers have been staging protests and road blockages over the low price of their products. At the same time fresh clashes have broken out between anarchists and the police in Athens. Here's what's presently happening with the farmers' protests via the AFP news.
Greek farmers pledge to maintain highway blockades:
ATHENS, Greece (AFP) — Thousands of Greek farmers on Saturday hunkered down for a fifth day of highway blockades in an ongoing tug-of-war with the government over the low price of produce.

The farmers, who are demanding higher prices for cotton, corn and wheat than those set by the European Union, threatened to escalate their protest despite a 500-million-euro (646-million-dollar) package offered by the state last week.

"We're not leaving unless the government clarifies how the money will be divided per crop," a farmer union member told state TV channel NET at a roadblock in Promachonas near the Greek-Bulgarian border.

Hundreds of tractors continue to occupy key junctions on the Athens-Thessaloniki highway and other roads in northern Greece, effectively slicing the country in two.

The disruption is expected to spread to the Peloponnese on Monday where farmers intend to block the bridge over the Isthmus of Corinth, one of the two road access points to the southern peninsula.

The farmers have also blocked border routes to Bulgaria and Turkey where freight traffic has slowed to a trickle, with the protesters only making exceptions for perishable goods and medical emergencies.

The Bulgarian government on Friday formally protested to the Greek embassy in Sofia, noting that the blockade compromises free travel and trade principles enshrined in the two countries' common European Union membership.

On Friday night, a group of Greek farmers attempted to cross the border into Bulgaria for unspecified reasons but were blocked by Bulgarian police, the semi-state Athens News Agency (ANA) reported.

A similar farmer protest cut Greece in half in 1997 for several weeks, forcing the government to sabotage the tractors, puncturing their tyres at night to get traffic running normally across highways.
Meanwhile in Athens and Patras anarchists and others continue to clash with police. Here's the story of today's events from the Reuters news agency.
Anarchists clash with Greek police in Athens march:
ATHENS (Reuters) - Anarchists threw fire bombs and clashed with Greek police in Athens on Saturday during a march to parliament by more than 1,000 demonstrators protesting over the police killing of a teenager last month.

"About 150 anarchists who broke away from the rally threw rocks at the police who responded with teargas," said a police official, who declined to be named. "Later, they threw fire bombs at the offices of the defense minister."

The anarchists set on fire a newspaper kiosk and a bus station and caused minor damages to four banks in the center of the Greek capital. Police chased small groups of youths around the city center and detained at least two people.

Protests also took place in the southwestern Greek port of Patras, where three newspapers' buildings, a journalists union and three banks suffered slight damage.

Greece witnessed the worst riots in decades in December, triggered by the fatal police shooting of a 15-year-old boy and fueled by anger at economic hardships and government scandals.
On Thursday, a protest march against an acid attack on an immigrant cleaner, who was a union activist, caused vandalism by groups of anarchists, who clashed with police.
Here's another take on the story from the British libertarian communist site LibCom.
Protests resume in Athens:
View Image Details]' jQuery1232839959738="17">
Protesters and riot police have clashed in central Athens today during a protest calling for the release of prisoners arrested during last month's riots, as farmers continued a week-long road blockade over prices.

The clashes occurred outside the University of Athens, as police charged with batons and pepper spray, while protesters used sticks and stones. Several hundred people were involved in the protests, and around 300 continued a march through the town centre. The International Herald Tribune reported that most participants were anarchists.

Also this week, around ten thousand farmers have been blocking major highways and border crossings with tractors over prices, after government talks broke down. Protests at Greece's third largest airport in Crete finished earlier this week, after the runway was blockaded by tractors and burning tires on Tuesday.

No comments: