Bulgarian truckers to retaliate against Greek blockade

Bulgarian truckers threaten Greece with staging blockades at all checkpoints on border if Greek farmers keep blockade on Bulgarian borders

Photo by: AP (Archive )
Photo by: AP (Archive )

A driver sits inside his truck as line of stranded trucks are seen in the background at the Greek-Bulgarian border crossing, due to a blockade by Greek farmers protesting pension reforms, February 3, 2016.

Bulgarian transport minister says Bulgarian truck drivers will stage another counter-blockade at all checkpoints on the country’s border with Greece if Greek protesters do not end their own blockade by Monday.

Greek farmers have been blocking the roads into Bulgaria and motorways across Greece at intervals for about five weeks, protesting the Greek government's pension reform plan that will drastically increase their social security contributions.

Bulgarian Transport Minister Ivaylo Moskovski said, "If the Greek side does not find, in whatever form, a way of resolving the crisis by Monday, Bulgarian road carriers will launch a counter-blockade along the entire Bulgarian-Greek border.”

The counter-blockade will focus on vans, cars, and large vehicles transporting agricultural goods.

"We decided to block not only agricultural production entering and leaving Bulgaria but also such (goods) for which Bulgaria is a transit country," Mirolyub Stolarski, the head of the Bulgarian association of road transport union, said, adding that they also plan to block the border with Macedonia for Greece's agricultural production.

Last week, Bulgarian road carriers already staged a counter-blockade after the Greek protesters failed to stick to the agreement, requiring the blockade to be lifted at certain hours each day.

The blockade was lifted on Sunday but then resumed on Tuesday after talks between representatives of some protesting farmers and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras failed on Monday to find an immediate solution to a month-long blockade of the country’s highways.

Bulgarian authorities have said that the carriers' losses would exceed 10 million euros ($10.96 million). The blockage created a 10km queue of trucks on the Bulgarian side.

The blockages cause serious losses for Bulgaria’s tourism industry as well.

Bulgarians have cancelled their holidays in Greece and around 30,000 Greek citizens have cancelled trips to Bulgaria because of the blockades, say Nastimir Ananiev, chairman of the parliament’s transport committee.

Bulgarian authorities demand sanctions from the European Commission against Greece, saying that the blockades violate European Union principles on the free movement of goods and people.

TRTWorld and agencies