Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry advised motorists on January 31 to avoid the Kulata – Promachonas border crossing after protesting Greek farmers blocked the checkpoint for about an hour.
Motorists should use other border crossings into Greece and avoid Kulata – Promachonas unless this was unavoidable, the Interior Ministry said.
The Greek farmers’ blockade of the border started at about 1pm and ended just after 2pm. A queue of lorries and cars grew to a length of about three kilometres.
The Greek authorities have promised that they would do everything possible to avoid a blockade of the Bulgarian border.
Greek police have been deployed in large numbers in recent days to counteract blockades by the farmers, who are protesting against tax and social security contribution system reforms and who want higher state subsidies.
Reporters at the border said that Greek farmers had managed to bypass the police, on Tuesday blocking the borders on foot after they failed to get their tractors past police checkpoints.
Greek protesters’ border blockades have been a regular occurence over the past decade. A prolonged series of blockades of the Bulgarian border in February 2016 caused an estimated 20 million leva (about 10 million euro) damage to Bulgaria’s economy.
The Interior Ministry said on January 31 2017 that caretaker Interior Minister Plamen Uzunov spoke on the phone with his Greek counterpart and received assurances that the Greek police would take every step necessary to prevent the Bulgarian border being blocked.
Bulgaria’s caretaker Transport Minister, Hristo Alexiev, sent a letter to his Greek counterpart saying that he expected that all measures would be taken to prevent the closure of border crossings and the impeding of the free movements of goods between the two countries.
Alexiev’s ministry said on January 31 that he had written to European Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc and to the European Commissioner for Internal Market and Industry, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, to inform them about the situation at the Bulgarian-Greek border.