Greece Giving 'No Information' on Border Blockade Hours

World » SOUTHEAST EUROPE | February 9, 2016, Tuesday // 11:14
Bulgaria: Greece Giving 'No Information' on Border Blockade Hours File photo, EPA/BGNES

Greek authorities have not provided any information as to the timing of the blockade staged by farmers at the border with Bulgaria, according to the governor of Blagoevgrad, a Southeastern Bulgarian region.

No details have been submitted to local authorities in the border region despite promises from their Greek counterparts, Focus Radio quotes Governor Biser Mihaylov as saying.

The protest of Greek farmers against government plans to carry out pension and taxation reforms have been disrupting traffic both ways across the border crossings between Bulgaria and Greece since the end of January.

After the Ilinden-Exochi checkpoint, one of the key border crossings between the two countries, had been open to traffic in the small hours of Tuesday, it was again closed at 10:00 local time (EET), Bulgarian border police say.

Unofficial information from Greek police suggests cars and buses (but not transit trucks) might be granted passage both ways between 15:00 and 17:00.

At Kulata-Promachonas, the other major crossing, only cars and buses are allowed to pass as of 11:00.

The other crossings on Bulgaria’s border with Greece are operating normally.

Commercial trucks are forming kilometers-long queues on both sides of the border at Ilinden-Exochi and Kulata-Promachonas, with businesses estimating millions in losses for the days of the blockade. 

Greek daily Kathimerini also reports of tensions among Bulgarian drivers, four of whom "smashed through a blockade... at the customs check point in Promachonas" in the early hours of Tuesday, "fed up with long delays".

In principle, farmers are obligated to inform police of blockade hours. However, local authorities on the Greek side, along with Bulgarian media outlets, report that decision to resume or lift the blockades have been taken spontaneously over the past weeks, making it impossible for border police to react timely.

Governor Mihaylov told Focus on Tuesday that apart from losses due to be incurred by transit trucks, daily cross-border trade and tourism have also been severely affected by the developments.

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Tags: Bulgaria, greece, blockade, farmers, border, Kulata-Promachonas, Ilinden-Exochi
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