Lithuanian farmers won't shut down border - yet

  • 2000-08-03
VILNIUS (BNS) - Protesting Lithuanian farmers will not block border crossing points and roads for the time being, but they will not remove their agricultural machinery from the state border areas either, Albinas Mitrulevicius, member of the agricultural enterprises association presidium, told BNS.

On Aug.1 representatives from all Lithuanian farming communities held a conference in Kalviai close to the Latvian border to decide whether to start blocking border crossing points by parking up the roads leading to them with agricultural machinery.

The conference decided not to block the border crossing points at the moment, but to leave the amassed machinery close to the state border.

Mitrulevicius said the delegates to the conference adopted a joint resolution which demands that by Sept. 1 accounts with farmers for last year's sales of sugar beet must be settled, and by Oct. 1 the deadline for settling accounts for this year's sales of sugar beet must be set.

The farmers handed in the resolution to the president, Parliament, the Cabinet of Ministers and the Ministry of Agriculture.

Dissatisfied with the price policy for agricultural produce and debt-ridden, the Lithuanian farmers said they would wait for the government's response until Aug. 5.

Mitrulavicius was unable to confirm whether the farmers would start the blockade of the country's main border crossing posts if the government fails to respond. He confirmed, however, that some kind of action would be taken.

Farmers in the northern region of Joniskis have been picketing for days near Kalviai protesting against the government's agricultural policy.

Mitrulevicius said various types of agricultural machinery had formed a kilometre-long line near Kalviai border crossing point.

In support of the Joniskis region farmers, their colleagues in Lithuania's southern region of Suvalkija started a protest action on July 31. They began amassing their agricultural machinery on the border with Poland, in Kalvarija town.

On Aug. 1, about 40 items of various agricultural machinery were lined up in Kalvarija.

According to Mitrulevicius, disregarding farmers' interests and ignoring their rights to such extent had triggered off a widespread farmers' indignation and mistrust towards the administration of this country.