A 12km queue of lorries formed at the Kulata-Promachonas checkpoint at the border between Bulgaria and Greece on February 8 as Greek farmers protesting against tax and pension reforms in their country again blockaded the border.
The Greek farmers were allowing the passage of cars and buses at Kulata-Promachonas, while at the Ilinden-Exochi border checkpoint, the passage of all types of vehicles was prevented.
Traffic through other Bulgarian-Greek border checkpoints was normal, Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry said in a 10am bulletin.
The Greek farmers have said that they may continue their blockades “indefinitely” unless the government withdraws legislation that would increase taxes and pension insurance payments. The Greek government has said that the legislation is necessary to prevent the pension system collapsing.
Bulgarian Transport Minister Ivailo Moskovski said that the problem was not a Bulgarian-Greek bilateral problem but a European one because it was a European transport corridor that was being blocked. The European Commission had more instruments to influence what happened, he told public radio on February 8.
The Greek authorities said that they could not influence the behaviour of the farmers, Moskovski said.
The financial damage was serious, he said in answer to a question whether the amount of losses of the carriers was clear.
The protesting Greek farmers, whose demands extend beyond the dropping of the legislation, have refused to meet the country’s agriculture minister for talks. Having blocked motorways in Greece at the weekend, the farmers plan to move their tractors to Syntagma Square in capital city Athens until their demands are met.
(Archive photo of the Kulata border checkpoint: Anton Lefterov)