Bulgarian Truck Drivers to Block Border with Greece Before Easter

World » SOUTHEAST EUROPE | April 20, 2016, Wednesday // 17:53
Bulgaria: Bulgarian Truck Drivers to Block Border with Greece Before Easter File photo, BGNES

Bulgarian road haulage companies are to seal off all checkpoints along the border with Greece, a trade union has said.

Iliyan Filipov, deputy chair of the Bulgarian Association of Road Transport Unions (BASAT), has told Focus Radio that truck drivers will stage a full blockade at 10:00 local time (EEST) on April 29, Friday, on the first day of Orthodox Easter holidays in Bulgaria and also in neighboring Greece.

No vehicles will be granted passage except for those transporting sick people or live animals. The blockade will be in force for the Easter holidays (April 29 - May 02), and a decision is pending whether to continue it on May 06-08 - St George Day (Gergyovden), a public holiday, and the weekend that follows.

"There will be a four-hour crossing window, [but the checkpoints] will be closed for 20 hours [a day], just as Greek farmers did."

For a month, Greek farmers had staged a blockade at the major border crossings with Bulgaria, but also with other countries, protesting over a proposed pension and taxation reform. The protests only ended after the farmers were ordered by authorities to clear the blockades.

In the meantime, after millions in estimated losses for trade and tourism incurred in a few weeks, Bulgarian truck drivers staged a "counter-blockade" that was gradually extended to all six border crossings.

The counter-action was suspended after Transport Minister Ivaylo Moskovski said a notion had appeared in Europe that it was the Bulgarian drivers, and not the Greek farmers, that were complicating the situation at the border.

BASAT, however, then vowed to set up roadblocks around the Eastern holidays.

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Tags: truck drivers, Ivaylo Moskovski, BASAT, Iliyan Filipov, Bulgaria, greece, border, blockade, Easter

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