Farmers dissatisfied with the situation in the Slovak agricultural sector began the journey from Michalovce in eastern Slovakia across the country to Bratislava by tractor in protest. Other protesting farmers and their tractors will join the convoy along the way.
“One hundred days have elapsed since the scandal broke and nothing significant has happened,” said Patrik Magdoško representing the Initiative of Farmers, sheltering small and medium-sized farmers from the whole of Slovakia, as cited by the TASR newswire. “So, we are going to Bratislava to start a dialogue.”
They chose this form of protest because they did not see any other way to make themselves heard. The problems of the farmers came to light after the murder of investigate journalist Ján Kuciak and his fianceé in late February.
“They must see that this is really an existential problem for farmers,” said Magdoško.
By their protest, the farmers are hoping to prompt some action in finding solutions to the problems they listed in the so-called Košice Appeal. In particular, they are demanding the creation of a special investigation team to look into the cases of oppressed farmers, to ensure that the Agricultural Payment Agency pays farm subsidies only to an entity that has a valid legal relationship to the subsidized land, and the creation of fair and transparent rules for the distribution of usage rights to the land, the organisation Rural Platform informed.
The tractors are taking both the so-called lower route from Michalovce to Bratislava and the upper route from Bardejov to Bratislava. Tractors will also set off on the route between Orava and Bratislava and Veľký Meder and Bratislava on Tuesday.
They plan to arrive in the Capital on the evening of Tuesday, June 19, at around 19:00. The following day they intend to visit parliament and the main points in the city.
The police warned that the protesting farmers do not have any exemption from the ban of tractors on highways and dual carriageways.
If they reach Bratislava, the police are prepared to set a route for them or ban them from driving further, if necessary, for security reasons and to ensure the smooth flow of traffic in the Capital. The traffic in the city is already complicated by extensive road-works.
“The unorganised presence of tractors would contribute to an absolute collapse in the flow of traffic,” the Police Presidium writes. “If the farmers arrive on tractors in spite of this, the police will use their legal powers to either set the route or ban further travel, if necessary.”
18. Jun 2018 at 20:20 | Compiled by Spectator staff