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Greek Farmers Continue Their Protest

Above photo: Farmers’ blockade at the Agios Nikolaos pier in the port of Zakynthos.

A week-long protest, including rallies and blockades in major motorways across Greece, forced the New Democracy (ND) government to call the farmers for negotiations on Tuesday.

The protesting farmers in Greece decided to continue their agitations across the country with demands such as duty-free agricultural diesel, reduced electricity costs, and subsidies on supplies and animal feed, as negotiations with the government on February 13 yielded no results. A week-long protest, including rallies and blockades in major motorways across Greece, forced the New Democracy (ND) government to call the farmers’ groups for negotiations on Tuesday.

The farmer’s unions rejected the meager concessions on electricity prices offered by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. They demanded effective measures for renegotiating the EU’s new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), full compensation for lost income during floods, and a cessation of labeling non-Greek produce as Greek. A pan-Hellenic meeting of representatives of the farmers’ assemblies will be convened on February 15, in Larissa, in Thessaly, to chart out the further course of agitation. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the trade union All Workers’ Militant Front (PAME) expressed solidarity with the protesting farmers.

On February 14, Kostas Tzellas, president of the Union Federation of Agricultural Associations of Karditsa, told the media that “the government did not satisfy the farmers’ demands, even for electricity.”

“Its proposal does not concern the majority of farmers, but only the cooperative farmers and those who do not owe, when the majority of subsistence workers owe electricity suppliers,” Tzellas said. “The farmers are meeting today, while tomorrow there will be a meeting in Thessaly of the representatives of the blockades that have been set up in the country and specific actions will be decided.”

Farmers across different European countries including Germany, France, and Belgium have been protesting the higher cost of production and meager returns. Farmers and their unions allege that the decline in domestic markets is a result of policies dictated by the European Union that promoted the import of cheap agricultural products in EU countries, facilitated by Free Trade Agreements.

Many EU countries, including Germany and France, continue to support war efforts in Ukraine and elsewhere by providing billions in cash and ammunition. Meanwhile, the farmers accuse that they are mending their budgetary holes by abolishing subsidies to farmers including tax relief for agricultural diesel, and also cutting exemption from vehicle taxes for farming vehicles.

Distress wrought by the climate crisis including floods, wildfires, and droughts also has had its toll on farmers across Europe. Earlier, farmers in several Eastern European countries expressed outrage over the import of tariff-free grains from Ukraine—facilitated by the EU to help the war effort—which have affected their internal markets.

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