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Monday, 20 May, 2002, 13:03 GMT 14:03 UK
Germany braces for Bush protests
An anti-globalisation banner draped from the Marien Church in Berlin
Peace for the world, pretzels for Bush, reads a banner draped from a church in Berlin
Germany is preparing a massive security operation ahead of President George W. Bush's trip to Berlin, where thousands of demonstrators are expected to assemble for three days of protests against US policies.


We're going to make clear that Mr Bush's use of the events of 11 September to make war around the world is not acceptable

Reiner Braun
Axis of Freedom
Some 10,000 security officers are to be mobilised in one of the largest police deployments in Berlin's history.

A large section of the city and the airspace above it will be closed during Mr Bush's 19-hour visit, which starts on Wednesday.

Heavily guarded underground tunnels will be the only way into most parliamentary buildings ahead of Mr Bush's address to the house on Thursday, and staff have been ordered to keep all windows locked.

It is thought Mr Bush will use his European visit - which will also take him to Russia, Italy and France - to try to win backing for possible US strikes against Iraq.

But opponents of military action say they will turn out in their thousands to demonstrate their rejection of President Bush's policies.

"We're going to make clear that Mr Bush's use of the events of 11 September to make war around the world is not acceptable," Reiner Braun of Axis of Peace, an umbrella group organising protests across the country, told BBC News Online.

"He will be welcomed to our country with a mass demonstration."

Taking to the streets

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has vowed to come down hard on displays of violence anticipated during the demonstrations, planned for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

President Bush
President Bush has been accused of unilateralism
"Anyone who mixes the freedom to protest with violence will run against the full force of the police," he told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

Mr Bush, he said, was "a good friend of Germany" who was "heartily welcome" in the country.

"We have so many common interests and common values that occasional differences of opinion are pushed into the background," said the chancellor, who has nonetheless made clear that Germany would not enter into any military action against Iraq without a UN mandate.

Members of the Green Party, Mr Schroeder's government coalition partner, do however intend to take part in the protests, despite being urged by Green Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer to refrain.

"We do not intend to demonstrate against Bush the guest, but, for example, against the threat of a war on Iraq," said Green MP Annelie Buntenbach.


Differences of opinions shouldn't just be expressed in parliament, but also on the streets

Peter Porsch
PDS
Berlin's former communist party, the PDS, which rules the city in coalition with Chancellor Schroeder's SDP, also intends to participate in the demonstrations.

"Differences of opinions shouldn't just be expressed in parliament, but also on the streets," said the party's acting chairman, Peter Porsch.

According to a survey by the Spiegel magazine, nearly 80% of Germans are critical of the United States, and half hold a negative view of Mr Bush.

European leaders have increasingly expressed anxiety about unilateralism in American foreign policy and disregard for the opinions of other nations.

Those voices have included that of Foreign Minister Fischer.

"I utterly reject anti-Americanism. But, for all the differences in size and weight, alliance partnerships between free democracies cannot be reduced to obedience," he has said.

"Alliance partners are not satellites."

See also:

11 Feb 02 | Europe
08 Feb 02 | Europe
08 Feb 02 | Europe
06 Feb 02 | Americas
06 Feb 02 | Americas
31 Jan 02 | Middle East
10 Jun 01 | Europe
13 Jun 01 | Europe
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