Τρίτη 20 Φεβρουαρίου 2024

The great rally of the farmers in Syntagma, Athens, Greece

Farmers from across Greece drove their tractors to Athens on Tuesday, stepping up weeks of protests over rising costs, foreign competition and catastrophic flooding.
 
"We are fighting for our justified rights. We want the government to give us solutions to our problems, because we aren’t just fighting for us, for our own survival, we are fighting for everyone," farmer and protester Spyros Hatzis said.

Thousands of Greek farmers participated in a rally in Athens' Syntagma Square, bringing their tractors to express their concerns regarding rising costs. The event began on Tuesday and concluded on Wednesday morning when the farmer tractors departed from Athens, Greece

Greek 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. The rally echoes grievances in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland and Italy, where farmers have staged similar demonstrations.

Greek farmers held a rally in Athens due to several reasons related to increasing costs and challenges faced within the agriculture sector. Some specific issues included:
High production costs
Energy expenses
Competition from abroad
Damage caused by natural disasters like flooding
Taxation policies
Delayed payments for lost produce
The farmers demanded financial assistance from the government, seeking measures beyond those already proposed, such as discounts on electricity bills and a one-year extension of a tax rebate for agricultural diese. 
Despite the government's assertion that it could not provide additional concessions without exceeding its budgetary limits, the farmers remained persistent in pushing for more support.

There were no reported casualties among the Greek farmers during the protests in Athens. The rallies were peaceful, with farmers parking their tractors in front of Parliament and engaging in symbolic actions rather than violent confrontations with authorities.

The farmers' protest in Athens led to several impacts on the city. Closure of major roads and disruption of public transport: Greek police warned that the farmers' Athens rally would close much of the city to traffic and disrupt public transport.Traffic diversions: Motorists were advised to avoid certain areas around Syntagma Square during the protest.
Symbolic action: The protest involved thousands of farmers driving their tractors through the streets of Athens, honking their horns to draw attention to their causes.
Economic implications: While the direct economic consequences of the protest were temporary, the farmers' grievances reflect wider concerns affecting the Greek economy and European agriculture sectors.
Overall, the farmers' protest in Athens created a visible and audible presence in the city, drawing attention to their demands and potentially influencing policy decisions. However, the immediate effects on daily life in Athens were limited to the duration of the protest itself..

Before the rally in Athens, Greek farmers had been conducting protests and roadblocks to express their discontent. They rejected government-proposed concessions and decided to escalate their demonstrations by driving their tractors to the capital for a rally. The farmers were protesting high production costs, energy expenses, competition from abroad, damage caused by natural disasters, taxation policies, and delayed payments for lost produce. They demanded financial assistance and additional measures from the government to address these issues.

Greek police anticipated that the farmers' protest in Athens would cause significant disruption, warning that the rally would lead to the closure of much of the city to traffic and disrupt public transport. To manage the situation, police implemented various traffic measures throughout the city, including closing certain streets and advising the public to avoid those areas until the protests concluded. Additionally, the police worked closely with the organizers to coordinate the protest and minimize potential conflicts.

It is unclear what the farmers will do next after the rally in Athens. The Greek government has already offered discounts on power bills and a one-year extension of a tax rebate for agricultural diesel to the end of 2024, but the farmers' unions have stated that the measures announced so far do not go far enough to meet their concerns. Despite the government's assertion that it has no fiscal room for further concessions this year, the farmers remain determined to push for more support. It is possible that the farmers may continue to hold protests and engage in negotiations with the government to achieve their demands.