Thousands of farmers blocked highways throughout Greece on Jan. 22, causing long tailbacks in a fourth day of protests to demand compensation for falling agricultural prices.
Police said more than 8,000 farmers blocked roads in northern and central Greece and on Crete using trucks and tractors after talks with the government late Jan. 21 failed to reach a breakthrough.
Greek farmers are demanding tax rebates and interest-free loans to redress a slump in commodity prices.
“We continue our demonstrations and we will intensify them because the government hasn’t offered us anything,” Janetos Karamihas, president of the Greek confederation of farmers’ unions, told Reuters. “Everything it proposes is very general.”
Agricultural Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis said Jan. 21 the government would make specific proposals by the end of the week but he played down the likelihood of tax rebates.
He suggested the government could tap a 28-billion-euro (US$36.33 billion) bank support scheme to provide cheap loans to farmers in need. The bank scheme was unveiled last year to ensure credit flows to Greek businesses and consumers.TVimages showed hundreds of empty tractors blocking the main road from Athens to Thessaloniki, in the north. Near the border with Bulgaria, queues of vehicles stretched for more than four km and truck drivers squared off with farmers, shouting that their cargoes of meat and fruit were spoiling as they sat for days in traffic jams.