Protests continue to keep all Greek-Bulgarian border checkpoints shut, Greek tourism industry hit by cancellations
All border crossings between Bulgaria and Greece remained closed on February 20 2016, Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry said, as protest blockades and counter-blockades entered their latest day.
The Kulata-Promachonas, Ilinden–Exochi, Kapitan Petko Voivoda – Ormenio, Zlatograd – Thermes, Ivailovgrad – Kyprinos and Makaza – Nymfaia checkpoints were all closed, the Interior Ministry said.
The double blockade entered its fourth day, after Bulgarian lorry drivers mounted their counter-blockade in response to Greek farmers, who for weeks have been blockading that country’s border checkpoints, broke their undertakings about periodically allowing traffic through.
Bulgarian-language media said that the Bulgarian truck drivers had vowed to continue their counter-blockade until the Greeks fully lifted their blockade.
Bulgarian Transport Minister Ivailo Moskovski and Blagoevgrad district governor Bisser Mihailov were expected to meet representatives of Greek agricultural unions and the strike committee on the Greek side of the border on February 20.
The Greek farmers are protesting against tax and pension system reforms billed by the government in Athens as necessary to prevent pension funds running dry.
Meanwhile, Bulgarian media said that the closures at the border with Greece had resulted in large-scale cancellations of holiday reservations.
Reports said that two-thirds of Bulgarians’ holiday reservations in Greece for the March 3 to 6 long weekend had been cancelled.
Bulgarians also were cancelling holidays in Greece that had been planned for the Eastern Orthodox weekend of May 1 and 2, as well as May 21 to 24, around the holidays dedicated to Saints Cyril and Methodius.
(Archive photo of the Makaza – Nymfaia checkpoint: Bulgarian Foreign Ministry)