Athens, February 22, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
With the aim to finding a definite solution to the farmers’ issue, Alexis Tsipras meets today with farmers at the Maximos Mansion. Having received the support of the leading powers of Europe for the refugee crisis, the prime minister of Greece will try to clear up the landscape within the country and to appease the reactions of specific social groups, which oppose the draft law on social security.
The Government’s plan to exit the stalemate of the Farmers-Social Security are three different social security categories with a contribution-benefits ratio. According to information, at the meeting of the premier with representatives of the Farmers (scheduled at 12.00 at the Maximos Mansion – in the presence of Labour minister Y. Katrougkalos and Agricultural Development minister V. Apostolou) the prime minister is expected to unfold all the options the government, with the aim to find an immediate solution and to suspend the strikes that have caused serious problems in the economy due to the exclusion of customs, mainly in Evros.
In today’s meeting, the farmers are expected to be represented by more than 60 “blockades”, most of which had made their proposals known to the Maximus. Among them there will be representatives for the blockades of Tempi, Mikrothives and Thessaloniki, except Malgara, which stand with those of Nice and Promachonas, which refuse any discussion until the social security and tax bills have been withdrawn.
The Minister of Rural Development noted that “almost all of the Coordinating Committees of farmers who are mobilising have been notified and already most of them have responded positively. We expect for the others to nominate their representatives as well. For us the path of dialogue is open”.
Rural protests have caused significant losses both in state revenue, and business and have cut off Greece in half with the blockade of key junctions.
Of course this form of demonstration by the farmers is not something unheard of, since every 2 to 3 years, usually during the period after the Christmas holidays, where there is no agricultural work to be done, they take their tractors to the streets.
The frequent repetition of the phenomenon and the obstruction of the free movement of goods and travelers has made farmers be red cloth for the rest of the citizens, something that was made obvious during their protests in Athens, where apart from their union they did not have the support of any other social groups.
The experience of these mobilizations shows that they tend to dissolve by themselves just before the beginning of the farming period in the countryside. If the meeting of the farmers with the PM fails to reach an agreement the demonstrations will not last longer than one to two weeks.
Apparently Alexis Tsipras does not want to leave the front with the farmers open and will try to have the matter closed, in order to reduce any “leaks” in the voting of the tax bill which is still in consultation, but is necessary for the evaluation of the program that would release the disbursement of the assistance of lenders to Greece.