Hundreds of angry Crete farmers remain at Athens port a second day

Hundreds of angry Crete farmers remain at Athens port a second dayAthens - More than 1,000 farmers from the southern Mediterranean island of Crete remained camped out at Greece's main port of Piraeus on Tuesday for the second day, determined to drive their tractors in protest through Athens demanding financial help.

The farmers, along with their farm equipment and tractors, arrived in Athens on three vessels from Crete Monday and ended up scuffling with riot police at the port after they prevented them from off- loading their tractors.

On Tuesday morning, at least another 200 farmers arrived by vessels from the island and parts of the port have been closed off to traffic due to the ongoing protest.

The farmers said they are determined to ride their farm vehicles into the centre of Athens towards the Ministry of Development and are demanding to meet with the country's agriculture minister who is currently in Brussels negotiating an emergency farm aid plan.

Officials in Athens said they would only allow the demonstration to be carried out on foot.

Greek farmers have been protesting for the past two weeks over low prices for their products and are demanding financial help from the conservative government.

They have used their tractors to block major highways across the country and prevented imports and exports across many of the country's northern border, including Bulgaria.

Greek businesses said the strike, which followed quickly in the wake of riots, cost millions in lost revenue.

Many of the roadblocks have been lifted after farmers accepted a 500-million-euro emergency aid package by the government which has yet to be approved by the European Union.

The farmers are demanding tax rebates and subsidies from the government in the wake of falling prices for their goods and sinking EU subsidies. They estimate that their income levels have declined by 25 per cent in the past 10 years.

The conservative government has offered an aid package and has said the current financial crisis leaves it no room to offer more.

The government of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has taken a beating in the past few months as public discontent over low wages and rising unemployment triggered riots in December. (dpa)

Business News: