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Farmers rally and get more concessions

Farmers may have been hit in the face with the government's tax measures , but their rally in Athens was relatively uneventful, with more than 4,000 present.

It was arranged a week ago and it was supposed to be the culmination of the farmers' struggle against the government's decision to increase their taxation. The tractors came in the capital from all over Greece but farmers walked to parliament.

Some feared, or tried to presage, clashes with police, but other than a flag on fire, nothing much else happened. The flag was that of the Greek presidency of the EU and the farmers burned it symbolically to protest the presiding country's European stance on their issue.

The protesting farmers met at Vathi square, outside the offices of the Agriculture ministry in downtown Athens, then they moved to Syntagma square, ending outside parliament. According to estimates, there were more than 4000 farmers protesting in the capital today.

Farmer representatives asked for a meeting with the president of the parliament, but he was away, so the farmers delivered a resolution to his office. There was slight tension when after the biggest mass of the protesters had walked away, a small number attempted to take down the barricades set up by the police in front of the parliament. They were repulsed by riot control teams.

With twin elections for municipalities and the European parliament taking place in three months, the Finance ministry attempted a second show of good faith. Last week it capitulated to a small number of farmer demands, today they upped their offers: they excluded farmers from a business tax all freelancers have to pay. The farmers response was not positive, as expected.