|Wednesday, 21 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-01-20
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 ND supports farmers' demandsMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras met Wednesday with the leaders of Greece's two largest farmers' umbrella federations PASEGES and SYDASE and was briefed on the problems faced by the sector and the demands of protesting farmers, who have set up roadblocks along the country's major highways for the 7th consecutive day.
ND agricultural development 'shadow minister', Kozani MP George Kasapidis, who was also present at the meeting, said afterwards that ND considers the farmers' demands "fair" and called on the government to stand by the farmers and give immediate solutions, but clarified that the main opposition party objects to the closure of the roads and the problems caused to other social groups as a result.
Kasapidis added that the agriculture issues are a top priority for Samaras and ND, stressing that the party will "stand by the farmers waging a battle for their survival".
Noting that the farmers' roadblocks had been "spontaneous under the pressure of the problems that have been intensifying in recent years", Kasapidis reiterated that ND does not agree with the closure of the roads, thus causing problems to other social groups.
ND transport and communications 'shadow minister' Stavros Kalafatis also called on the government to find a solution to the problems caused by the farmers' mobilisations, warning that the closure of the country's motorways will have adverse repercussions on the operation of businesses, the supply of the markets, and on the Greek economy in general.
 Interior minister meets with UNHCR GuterresInterior minister Yannis Ragoussis met on Wednesday with visiting UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, and discussed Greece's migration policy and the changes to the Citizenship Code being advanced by the government.
Guterres said the government's reforms were in a "positive direction", and opined that giving immigrants the right to vote in municipal elections, as planned by the government, will help the decentralisation process.
The High Commissioner expressed satisfaction that Greece is examining the prospect of naturalisation and granting citizenship to migrants, aiming at their social integration. He noted that in his own country, Portugal, the 5-year requirement of migrants' undisrupted presence in the country as a condition for acquiring citizenship has been in effect for many years, and added that there was a trend at both European and international level towards making the 5-year requirement a uniform one.
Ragoussis, in turn, described Guterres' contribution on matters concerning migration policy in Greece as "significant", adding that the country needs to proceed with changes that will create the conditions of security and equal integration of the legal economic migrants into the Greek society.
 Ski resorts open as winter weather arrives in N. GreeceSki resorts in northern Greece are in full swing after a plunge in temperatures and long-awaited snowfall cloaked the mountain slopes in a white blanket.
Snow tires are required on vehicles moving toward the Mt. Voras ski resort, particularly along the last 8 kilometers, while the road to the Seli ski resort from the cities of Veria and Naoussa is open. Snow tires are also necessary for cars heading to the "Tria-Pente Pigadia" ski center on Mt. Vermio, while the snowfall has caused no problems to motorists visiting the Lailia ski center in the prefecture of Serres and Vassilitsa in Grevena prefecture.
The temperature in the port city of Thessaloniki was at 3 degrees Celsius early on Wednesday morning with light snowfall in the outskirts in the early morning hours.
Elementary and secondary education schools are closed in the northeastern prefecture of Evros due to the low temperatures and the snow falling since Tuesday.
The schools in the municipalities of Orpheas, Didimoticho, Orestiada, Metaxades, Kyprinos, Vyssa and Trigono remained closed following a decision by the local authorities.
Caption: The Ai Lias (Prophet Elias) chapel on Mt. Voras covered in snow, at an altitude of 2,542 meters. (ANA-MPA/V. Paschali)
 Farmers' mobilisations continueProtesting farmers entered their 7th day of mobilisations on Wednesday with stepped on roadblocks throughout the country in demand of solutions to chronic problems faced by the sector.
A spokesman for the farmers' nationwide coordination body, Tryfon Arapoglou, said Wednesday that mobilisations will be escalated, with roadblocks spreading to diversion routes as well.
Arapoglou said that farmers were discouraged by the Agricultural Development and Food ministry's stance, adding that no progress has been made in a series of fundamental institutional and financial demands such as immediate measures to boost farmers' incomes, reduction of production costs and controls on the market.
More tractors and other farm vehicles arrived on Wednesday to reinforce a roadblock at the Promahonas border in Serres prefecture, with the border crossing closed for the third consecutive day, resulting in kilometers-long queues of trucks and cars having formed on both sides of the border. Snowfall on Wednesday morning and a drop in temperatures have added to the drivers' tribulations.
Farmers also continued a roadblock on the Serres-Thessaloniki national highway at the Strymonas intersection, although traffic was allowed to pass after noon in order to facilitate a Greek Cup soccer match between Panserraikos of Serres and PAOK of Thessaloniki scheduled for 5:00 p.m.
Serres farmers have also blocked the Egnatia motorway in both lanes, two and from Kavala, at the Kerdyllia intersection, while they were also poised to block traffic on the old national highway and side roads for several hours later on Wednesday.
Egnatia motorway remained closed for the 5th consecutive day at the Strymonas intersection and at the Chryssopoulis juncture.
The Kavala-Xanthi old national highway opened to traffic on Tuesday afternoon, but the Kavala-Thessaloniki old national highway remained blocked by tractors.
The Exochi border crossing and Customs in Drama was closed for several hours on Tuesday, while farmers were planning to block it again on Wednesday for several hours later Wednesday.
Thessaloniki farmers were also boosting roadblocks at the Halkidona intersection, the Malgara toll post, and the Thessaloniki-Serres old national highway outside Liti.
Halkidiki farmers have lined up tractors at the Triglia intersection, although traffic has not been disrupted, while the Doirani border crossing and the Evzoni border Customs remained open throughout the night. The Ormenio and Kipi border stations in Evros prefecture were also open, although farmers have lined up tractors at both sites.
A new roadblock was set up Wednesday morning at the Eginio intersection and on the Elassonas provincial road, while the Nikaia intersection in Thessaloniki remained closed.
In the Peloponnese, farmers have blocked the Corinth-Tripoli highway at the Sterna intersection for a second day, while a convoy of tractors of Laconia orange producers drove through the central streets of Sparta, headed for the city's entrance at the Evrotas River. Argolis orange growers were also holding a demonstration outside the Prefecture building in Nafplio, dumping crates of oranges in the courtyard, as representatives met with prefect Vassilis Sotiropoulos.
Farmers on the island of Crete joined in the mobilisations of their mainland colleagues on Wednesday, temporarily blocking access to two public financial services in Chania in a warning move which will continue on Thursday, while continuation of action will depend on the outcome of a meeting in Athens on Wednesday afternoon by a delegation of local producers and local authorities with deputy agriculture minister Michalis Karchimakis. Farmers have been blocking the Hania-Rethymno national highway at the Megala Horafia intersection at regular intervals throughout Tuesday and Wednesday.
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