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GreeceGov't spokesperson: Farmers' demands are fair and being met gradually, despite climate...

Gov’t spokesperson: Farmers’ demands are fair and being met gradually, despite climate crisis

Hellenic News of America
Hellenic News of America
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Long-term demands of Greek farmers “are gradually being met,” but the unprecedented storm ‘Daniel’, which followed ‘Ianos’, was an extraordinary event that required new initiatives, government spokesperson Pavlos Marinakis said in an interview to Skai TV on Tuesday.

Speaking on several issues, Marinakis referred extensively to the demands of farmers, and asserted that farmers’ issues are being heard by the government. They are facing similar issues with farmers in other European countries, because of a persistent and imported price crisis, he said.

“But this government does not legislate or make decisions in closed offices. It obviously listens to society, it hears the reactions, it hears the demands,” he noted, citing as an example the sudden shutdown of power supply in nearly 300 farmhouses in flood-damaged Thessaly. Referring to Environment and Energy Minister Theodoros Skylakakis, he said, “For example, yesterday, Mr Skylakakis announced that power will not be cut for farmers, and this is something in effect since November (2023). But there were nearly 300 power cuts in Thessaly by mistake, although there was a contrary decision, and the ministry intervened; still, it needed an additional law in retrospect, to guarantee the implementation of this decision.”

Earlier in the day, the Climate Change and Civil Protection ministry had announced that a total of 33.9 million euros had been already allocated to 16,400 produce and animal farms who first requested assistance from the government and were cross-checked by the state insurance agency for farms (ELGA). The remainder of payments in this first cycle of support will be paid out shortly, it said.

Referring to this, Marinakis noted that it is obvious this funding is not enough to resolve their issues. “But it is important that there will be no power cuts, there will be a regulation covering up to seven years. (Farmers) have other serious demands,” he said, “like the higher prices in fuel, but this is not just a farmers’ demand. Generally, the price rise in some raw materials or fuel for professionals is an issue throughout Europe. What we want to avoid is the tension and a blowup of these strikes. I believe we are not at that point yet.”

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The government spokesperson expressed concern over the possibility of farmers shutting down national roads, particularly during this weekend, when the largest Greek farming fair, Agrotica, will be in full swing in Helexpo-TIF’s premises in Thessaloniki. (A press conference on Tuesday said the expo was ‘sold out’ and the Thessaloniki hotels were filled to capacity with visitors from Greece and other countries. The fair opens on Thursday and will run to Sunday, Feb. 1-4.)

Marinakis said it does not seem likely national roads will be shut down by protesting farmers, but a government’s obligation is to protect the rights of all citizens, one of which is free passage. “I do not believe we will reach that point,” he added.

“I believe that despite the very significant demands (farmers) have and the difficulties they face, they believe that very important actions have taken place in the last four years, of support at both taxation level and with fertilizer prices, and for the special consumer tax on agricultural fuel, and all the interventions carried out also by ELGA and OPEKEPE,” the agency handling EU funding, he concluded.


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