Crete farmers clash with police over taxes

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Farmers from the island of Crete have clashed with police outside Greece’s parliament as MPs prepared to vote on a new property tax that will extend the levy to farms.

Hundreds of farmers took an overnight ferry to protest in the country’s capital, Athens, and were joined by farmers from the southern mainland. They hurled oranges at riot police and battered the shields police were holding with traditional shepherds’ walking sticks.

The new tax is part of measures required under Greece’s international bailout agreements.

The conservative coalition government, with 154 seats in the 300-member parliament, struggled with dissent from MPs representing rural constituencies before submitting the law.

Panagiotis Peveretos, a farmer protest organiser, said he had met a group of government MPs to discuss their grievances.

“They told us they understand our position but cannot bring down the government over this,” said Peveretos, leader of the Greek Cattle Farmers’ Association.

“We only have one demand: Not to tax our farms, because 
this is what we need to operate our business, the same way factories have machinery,” he said.