Farmers hold angry demonstration in Prague

04-12-2002

An estimated 10,000 farmers have staged an angry demonstration in Prague against the European Union's plans to provide relatively low agricultural subsidies to new member countries. On Wednesday morning farmers pelted the Agriculture Ministry with eggs, beets, potatoes and tomatoes, breaking around two dozen windows. They also set fire to bales of straw and blocked the main gate to the ministry with piles of manure. No arrests were made. Agriculture Minister Jaroslav Palas said the demonstration was justified, but condemned the damage caused. The protest came just days before the Czech government was due to conclude an agriculture agreement as part of accession talks with the EU. The union plans to phase in farm subsidies in the Czech Republic and other candidate countries over several years, once they join in 2004.