Greek farmers gear up for tractor protest in Athens over rising costs

On Monday night, farmers lined their tractors and pickups along highways and gathered at a meeting point in central Greece where they spent the night before heading to Athens

Reuters
Published : 20 Feb 2024, 09:08 AM
Updated : 20 Feb 2024, 09:08 AM

Greek farmers were expected to drive into Athens with tractors on Tuesday to protest outside parliament over rising energy costs, competition from abroad and for extra financial aid to tackle the impact of recent flooding.

Farmers unions have been in negotiations with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis' conservative government for weeks, but say the measures announced so far don't go far enough to meet their concerns and so they are stepping up their actions.

On Monday night, farmers lined their tractors and pickups along highways and gathered at a meeting point in central Greece where they spent the night before heading to Athens.

"There are many problems, most of all the fuel and the energy costs," said one of the protesting farmers, Christos, in the central Greek region of Kastro.

"Last year was catastrophic for farmers, we did not produce grapes, we did not produce olive oil, we produced a bit of cotton but it was bought for nothing."

On Tuesday morning, dozens of farmers arrived by boat at the port of Piraeus from the southern island of Crete.

The rally, scheduled for later in the day, was aimed at piling pressure on the government, which has already offered discounts on power bills and a one-year extension of a tax rebate for agricultural diesel to the end of 2024.

The government reiterated on Monday that it is willing to discuss a more permanent tax rebate scheme in the future, but it had no fiscal room for any further concessions this year. Greece has been recovering from a decade-long financial crisis.

"I think farmers acknowledge this and know very well that the government has probably exceeded even their expectations, especially on the power bills issue," Mitsotakis said during an interview with Greek Star TV on Monday evening.

Farmers in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland and Italy have staged similar protests.

"We'll see if there is anything else at the bottom of the barrel," said protesting farmer Dimitris Tsarouchas.