The Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued an advisory to the country’s citizens travelling to Greece ahead of the planned February 12 protests in Athens and against a background of continuing periodic blockades of crossings at the Bulgarian-Greek border.
Protests by Greek farmers against tax and pension system reforms are continuing, with participants expected to converge on the country’s capital on February 12.
Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said that northern Greece had been severely affected by the protests and border crossings had been blocked, but a system for vehicle traffic to go through them was in place.
The Kulata-Promachonas border crossing was open for cars and buses but closed to goods lorries for most of the day. The expected “window” for trucks to pass was from 11am to 3pm, the Foreign Ministry said. However, from 3pm, it was likely that the passage of cars and buses would be blocked too, for one to two hours.
The Makaza and Zlatograd-Thermes border checkpoints were open, the Foreign Ministry said, but noted that goods lorries and buses were not allowed through these checkpoints.
The Ilinden – Exochi border crossing was open for cars and buses but closed to goods lorries. The ministry said that it had no prior information about a blockade there but said that periodically, without a set schedule, trucks sometimes could go through.
On the morning of February 12, Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry said that goods lorries were not being allowed to pass through the Ilinden – Exochi and Kulata – Promachonas border crossings, but cars, minibuses and buses were.
The remaining Greek-Bulgarian border checkpoints – Makaza, Zlatograd and Ivailovgrad, were operating normally, the Interior Ministry said.
The Foreign Ministry said that at different times of day, major transport links in Greece were blocked, included in mainland Greece, the Peloponnese, Crete, Attica and approaches to the airport of Athens.
Protesting farmers were to blockade Tempe Pass (on the Thessaloniki-Athens motorway) until noon on February 12 in order for those with agricultural machinery to be able to reach Athens to join the protest.
Large quantities of agricultural vehicles were expected to be moving along the main thoroughfares of the country, the ministry said.
Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry repeated its advice to Bulgarian citizens that throughout Greece, they should avoid large-sacle public events such as rallies and marches.
Travellers should take heed of the road transport situation. Transport companies and those travelling by car should monitor the current situation regarding blocked roads and entry points to cities where major traffic jams were possible. No risky journeys by motor vehicle should be undertaken, the ministry said.
If needed, Bulgarian citizens could contact the embassy in Athens or the consulate in Thessaloniki, the Foreign Ministry said.