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Saga of Greek farmers at the border continues February 4, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Bulgaria.
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About 800 Bulgarian, and other European lorries were allowed to pass through the Kulata-Promahon border crossing point after midnight on January 28 2010, Todor Georgiev, head of Border Police told the Bulgarian news agency.

According to Bulgarian media reports, at the moment, traffic along three out of the four Greek-Bulgarian checkpoints (Kulata, Captain P Voivoda and Zlatograd) is normal.

The blockade, which disrupted trains travelling from Bulgaria to Greece, was lifted at 10pm on January 27 2010. Border Police said that “at the moment trains move freely through the border”.

According to the “schedule” worked out by the protesting farmers, the Ilinden-Exohi checkpoint is going to be shut today from 9am until 9pm for lorries and from 12pm until 5pm for all vehicles.

As the protesters upped the stakes and blocked the railways on January 27, the first victim of the Greek farmers’ blockade was the Sofia-Thessaloniki international train number 361, which usually leaves Sofia at 7am, and train number 636, which was scheduled to leave Sofia at 5.05pm.

Furthermore, international trains linking Bucharest with Thessaloniki only travelled from Bucharest to Sofia.

Passengers with tickets for the suspended trains will be fully reimbursed by BDZ.

Greek farmers have been staging road blockades on the border with Bulgaria for more than a week, but this is the first time they interrupted railway traffic too.

Meanwhile, the Bulgarian mass circulation daily “24 Chassa” said that as a direct result of the blockade, which is in its second week, both Bulgaria and Greece have been hit hard economically, while Turkey has gained from it.

As the Koulata, Ilinden and Captain P Voivoda checkpoints were shut by the farmers, demand on the Turkish market for Greek imports of sea bass and bream have been replaced by Turkish fish. Flower import has also been affected and roses are being imported from The Netherlands.

As a consequence of the economic damages incurred in the region, the European Commission (EC) has said that it could implement punitive measures against Athens in the wake of the deteriorating situation on the Greek-Bulgarian border caused by the Greek farmers’ blockade, Bulgarian media reported on January 27 2010.

“The Greek government has violated European legislature by not providing Bulgaria and the European Commission with a timely warning for the blockade. Greece had an obligation to provide alternative routes for the freight of goods, which is not the case,” Jonathan Todd, spokesperson for the commission was quoted as saying.

“The EC could launch penal proceedings, but the decision will be made only after all facts become available,” said Todd.

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