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Bulgarian-Greek border crisis continues with total blockade announced for February 4 and 5.
The blockade at the Kulata – Promahon border checkpoint has resumed since 3am on February 4, 2010, the Bulgarian news agency BTA said.
The barrier of tractors was lifted at 10pm the night before and all the vehicles that were stranded, including around 1250 lorries, buses and private vehicles were allowed to pass through. Bulgarian authorities said the situation at the remaining three checkpoints, Ilinden, Zlatograd and Captain P Voivoda, since midnight has been normal for all traffic.
However, there was information that most likely the Ilinden – Exohi checkpoint would be shut after 10am. It is for the moment unclear if the checkpoint will be shut only for lorries or all vehicles. There is no information that Ilinden and Zlatograd are facing closure later on February 4, for the moment they are operating freely, though some fear that there might be a total blockade enforced later on.
If the warning released by the Greek border police on February 3 is anything to go by, then the outlook for February 4 and 5 forecasts even bigger queues and headaches for motorists, tourists, and lorries.
Greek border police announced that they would join their country's farmers and launch a strike of their own, closing all Greek border points on February 4 and 5, Bulgarian media reported on February 3, 2010. This came only a day after European Commission president Jose Manuel Barosso declared that the EC would implement "all legal means possible" to ensure that the movement of goods and services across the border was not obstructed. Greek border police cited discontent with their government's policies on a number of issues, including taxation.
The Macedonian foreign ministry received an official warning from the Greek border police that its borders will be shut for two days. No such warning was apparently given to the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry. The Romanian and Macedonian foreign ministries have warned their citizens to "avoid travelling to Greece" in response, Dnevnik daily reported.
While the blockade by Greek farmers and the strike by border police are not directly connected, both groups have expressed their disapproval of the Greek government.
by Nick Iliev