Standoff between gov’t and farmers grows

9 February 2016
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The standoff between the government and farmers protesting its pension reform plan seemed to intensify Monday as sources indicated that authorities would not allow producers to enter the capital with their tractors on Friday and block access to the capital over the weekend as they have planned.

“The farmers can come by bus and protest in Syntagma Square,” one government source said. “Whoever wants to can come for as long as they want.” “But we won’t allow the tractors to get to Syntagma.”

Another official accompanying Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on his official visit to Tehran indicated that the government has reached out to farmers for dialogue but they have refused. “What the farmers are doing is extremely selfish,” the official said, noting that the bill for pension reform currently being drafted will affect society in general, not just the farmers. The same source noted that the government’s proposal for pension reform would actually be beneficial for farmers, raising the pension payment received by many.

Farmers continued to block key road junctions and border crossings on Monday. Hundreds of tractors remained parked at points near the Bulgarian border and at junctions in central and northern Greece while unionists met to discuss the course of their action.

The growing pressure has fueled speculation about another round of early elections which most government officials have sought to play down.

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