Prosecutor Orders Greek Farmers to Clear Border Blockades

World » SOUTHEAST EUROPE | February 25, 2016, Thursday // 08:04
Bulgaria: Prosecutor Orders Greek Farmers to Clear Border Blockades File photo, EPA/BGNES

Protesting Greek farmers should remove blockades set up at key junctions in the country and at its northern borders, Supreme Court prosecutor Efterpi Koutzamani ruled on Wednesday.

Farmers have been protesting just over a month at the two main border crossings with Bulgaria, severely disrupting traffic into and out of Greece and also resulting in queues of vehicles on both the Bulgarian and Greek sides. Their actions have mainly affected the road haulage industry, with Bulgarian truck drivers setting up a "counter-blockade" last week that was only lifted in the weekend.

Also on Wednesday, Bulgarian authorities threatened that road carriers would block all border crossings at the Bulgarian-Greek border and possibly the one with Macedonia to stop all transit traffic. The head of the Bulgarian Association of the Road Transport Unions added the counter-blockade could also be staged on Easter or during the peak of the summer season.

But Prosecutor Efterpi Koutzamani meanwhile said judicial authorities must take firm action against farmers and intervene "with the support of police authorities". Greek daily Kathimerini's website reports her as saying that preventing the free movement of goods and people is an offense punishlable by law.

The Greek blockade has resulted in losses worth millions incurred by businesses whose goods are regularly moved across the border. However, with a vast part of the Bulgarian commercial transit cargo trucks carrying items from other countries, overall net losses could be much higher.

As of Thursday morning, only the Ilinden-Exochi border crossing, one of the two key chechkpoints along the common border, is sealed to all traffic, according to Bulgarian Interior Ministry officials. 

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Tags: greece, farmers, blockade, Efterpi Koutzamani, Bulgaria, border
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