Angry Cypriot vine growers clashed with police at the presidential palace in Nicosia on Tuesday during a demonstration for higher state subsidies for dumping white export grapes, police said. The protest started with more than 250 growers marching through the streets of the capital and demanding that the government save them from bankruptcy.
But the demonstration turned ugly when growers tried to force their way past police and storm the presidential palace to see President Glafcos Clerides. Police used their batons to control the crowd, and a policeman was wounded and another man was arrested during the scuffling, police said.
The stand-off ended when Clerides agreed to meet union representatives who were accompanied by politicians.
Demand for the white Cyprus grape has dropped dramatically in the country's traditional markets in Germany and Russia. The grape's quality has been poor because of three years of drought and recent heatwaves.
Grape production has slumped 34 percent from the projected 120,000 tonnes to an estimated 80,000 tonnes, according to agriculture ministry figures.
But despite the destruction of some crops, the local and export markets for the reduced levels of production are poor, resulting in the dumping of most of the newly picked grapes.
Growers say the situation is crippling the vine industry. They have issued two demands: that the government increase the price offered for grapes which do not reach the market and that it raise compensation for ruined crops. - (AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )