February 3, 2009

Cretan farmers clash with police

A spokesman for the Greek government said farmers should negotiate, rather than protest in the streets following a skirmish between farmers and police.

What is important is the dialogue, spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said.

Police used tear gas to break up a protest Monday after about 500 farmers from the Island of Crete went to the Greek port of Piraeus to protest the government's handling of a new agriculture compensation package.

The government announced a $642 million aid package for farmers last week, but Cretan farmers went to Piraeus to demand equal support, the EU Observer reported Tuesday.

While Farming Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis flew to Brussels to obtain approval for the aid package, Antonaros said the plan includes compensation for Crete's farmers and specifically olive oil producers.

Hatzigakis said he believed support package did not violate European Union rules, as it was a compensation package, not a subsidy for farmers.