June 8, 2015
Some of us feel deeply disturbed by the festivities of yesterday and today at the G7 Summit held at Schloss Elmau in spectacularly scenic Krun, Bavaria, attended by top officals of seven of the leading economic nations. It seems cruel, in fact, to have excluded Vladimir Putin, obviously out of malicious envy over his magnificent handling of the Russian crisis in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and of course, to spite him for adopting Crimea, by which he spared its citizens the dire and bloody fate of the people of Donbass.
Over a good beer in a fabulous setting, I imagine German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama felt well insulated from the concerns of billions of people the world over, many of them highly educated and powerful in their own right. Yet a lot of people are angry, and it behooves these partying temporary servants of the elite to take notice.
I would add a warning. The G7 leaders’ malicious envy of Putin may have stemmed not only from his adoption of Crimea, but also from his pride over the success of the Sochi Olympics, an attitude he flaunted in photos and videos of the event, following so close as it did on the heels of the Crimean adoption. Yet now, the world’s preeminant officials flaunt that same unabashed pride, forgetting that inevitably it goeth before a fall.
We publish below three articles describing the mostly peaceful demonstrations that involved thousands of concerned individuals, drawing notice to such urgent challenges as climate change, the environment, the devastating impact of global trade agreements, poverty, and the ruination of the world economy by bankers and corporate interests.
Live: Protests Against the G7 Summit in Germany
By Jennifer Baker
June 6, 2015
Although outnumbered by the police forces present, around 5000 people are out protesting against the G7 summit in the German town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The massive protest is just one of many mobilizations, including alternative summits and direct actions that are challenging the gathering of global elites, which is to take place June 7 and 8. Government representatives of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States will formally take part.
Playing drums, tambourines and shaking rattles, protesters shouted “Brick by brick, wall by wall stop G7 and make the systemfall!”. They carried banners reading “Fight G7 for Revolution” and “G7 go to hell! I like Putin”.
“I’m protesting because the big financial corporations have too much influence over politics,” said Thomas Schmidbauer, 50, from Sindlsdorf in Bavaria, who was dressed in traditional Bavarian lederhosen shorts. “Poverty isn’t being tackled. It is unfair. We could organise our economies much better for the people,” he added. Tom Klappert, a 31-year-old medical student, said: “It’s not acceptable that they’re throwing so much money at a conference while so many refugees and other people are dying of hunger every day.”
Some 17,000 German police have been deployed around the summit site in the Bavarian Alps and another 2,000 Austrian police were on standby across the nearby border. Tens of thousands marched through nearby Munich on Thursday to protest the summit’s politics of “neo-liberal economic policies, war and militarization, exploitation, poverty and hunger, environmental degradation, and the closing-off towards refugees.” Police set up a blockade to stop the progression of the march and when the protest confronted it, police deployed tear gas and pepper spray on the crowd. At least one protester was carried away by paramedics.
Protesters Clash with Police Ahead of G7 Summit
June 6, 2015
Leaders of industrial nations gather for two-day summit in German town as they are accused of favouring corporations. Leaders from the Group of Seven (G7) industrial nations will meet on Sunday in a German Alpine resort town, as thousands protested on the eve of the two-day summit. There were sporadic clashes with police and several marchers were taken to hospital with injuries, as thousands marched in the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen on Saturday. Protester Monika Lambert said she had come “to exercise my democratic rights to say that everything the G-7 decides is in the interest of the banks and capitalists”.
The Germans have deployed 17,000 police around the former winter Olympic Games venue at the foot of Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze. Another 2,000 are on stand-by across the border in Austria. The demonstrations have so far been peaceful, Hans-Peter Kammerer, a police spokesman, said on Saturday, but that significant numbers of “extremists” from Germany, Austria, Italy, and Britain were thought to be joining the expected crowd of about 8,000. Al Jazeera’s Dominic Kane, reporting from Garmisch-Partenkirchen, said “protesters have promised to try to disrupt the proceedings as much as they can”. The leaders in attendance are expected to discuss such global issues as security, energy and the economy.
Host Angela Merkel is hoping to secure commitments from her G7 guests to tackle global warming to build momentum in the run-up to a major United Nations climate summit in Paris in December. The German agenda also foresees discussions on global health issues, from Ebola to antibiotics and tropical diseases. But on the evening before the German chancellor welcomes the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, and the United States, she and French President Francois Hollande were forced into their fourth emergency phone call in 10 days with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to try to break a deadlock between Athens and its international creditors. The two sides have been wrangling for months over the terms of a cash-for-reform deal for Greece. Without aid from eurozone partners and the IMF, Greece could default on its loans within weeks, possibly forcing it out of the currency bloc.
An upsurge of violence in eastern Ukraine will also play a prominent role at the meeting at Schloss Elmau, a luxury hotel perched in the picturesque mountains of southern Germany. European monitors have blamed the bloodshed on Russian-backed separatists and the leaders could decide at the summit to send a strong message to President Vladimir Putin, who was frozen out of what used to be the G8 after Moscow’s annexation of Crimea last year. Merkel is due to hold talks with US President Barack Obama on Sunday morning before the summit gets under way, with Ukraine, Middle East turmoil and the TTIP free trade agreement being negotiated between Washington and the European Union at the top of the agenda.
Simon Ernst, a spokesperson for the protesters, said they wanted to show their anger at the G7 leaders, calling them “the henchmen of bankers and corporations”. Oxfam, the anti-poverty charity, staged a colourful protest on Saturday, depicting the G7 leaders with huge heads and kitted out with walking boots and maps. The charity is urging the leaders from the Group of Seven industrial countries to find the “right path” to overcome poverty and inequality. Steffen Kuessner, a spokesperson for Oxfam, said social inequality was missing from the leaders’ agenda. “The leaders have lost their way on the path to a world without poverty,” said Kuessner. “They have to choose the right path between growing social inequality or fighting poverty, and to do so they must reform international tax regulations, among other things.”
Thousands protest G7 summit in southern Germany
By Frank Jordans
June 6, 2015
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany / AP / Thousands of demonstrators packed a German Alpine resort town on Saturday to protest a wide range of causes, from climate change to free trade, before the arrival of the leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized democracies for a two-day summit. Though the demonstration in Garmisch-Partenkirchen was largely peaceful, a small group of protesters clashed with police as they marched through the town, charging at officers who responded with pepper spray. At least two protesters had to be taken away by medics for treatment. Police said one officer was also injured by the pepper spray; there were no arrests.
During the demonstration, black-clad anarchists chanted slogans against police violence, anti-capitalists held signs denouncing a proposed trans-Atlantic trade deal, and peace protesters waved rainbow flags and signs with anti-war slogans. Protester Monika Lambert said she had come “to exercise my democratic rights to say that everything the G-7 decides is in the interest of the banks and capitalists.” Lambert, from the Bavarian city of Erlangen, said Germany’s history has shown that it is important to speak out. “I asked my parents what they did during the Nazi period and they did nothing,” she said. “I don’t want to tell my children and grandchildren the same thing.”
About 2,000 protesters marched to the train station from their camp on the outskirts of town for the noontime demonstration and were joined by thousands of others, including many families and children. Bavarian Michael Wildmoser carried a sign with communist slogans. “Too many young people are being exploited in low-paid jobs,” he said. “This situation can’t go on.”
Police had 22,000 officers from around Germany on hand, keeping tight control on the demonstrations. Spokesman Hans-Peter Kammerer said significant numbers of extremists from Germany, Austria, Italy and Britain were among the crowd. One group of about 30 protesters dressed as clowns, taunting police by getting up close and personal, dusting their boots with feather dusters, pretending to listen in on their conversations and making sexual innuendos. A group of six clowns sat in the middle of the street, blocking the road and forcing a police van carrying reinforcements to turn back.
Protesters’ spokesman Simon Ernst, who was part of the group that camped overnight outside town, said they wanted to show their anger at the leaders of Germany, France, the U.S., Italy, Britain, Canada and Japan, calling them “the henchmen of bankers and corporations.” Police planned to keep all demonstrators away from the summit venue, the Schloss Elmau hotel in a tiny village about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
A court initially ruled that up to 50 protesters should be allowed inside the security zone Sunday so that the world leaders would be able to hear them. On Saturday, however, Bavaria’s administrative court revoked permission for that demonstration. The court said organizers had refused to have participants transported to the site in police vehicles and insisted on marching, but it ruled that would pose too great a security risk, the news agency dpa reported. The summit runs Sunday through Monday.
Update May 9, 2015
Strategic Culture Foundation
On the Folly of the G7 Summit
In surprising praise of Germany’s Foreign Minister, political columnist Natalia Meden remarks, “Frank-Walter Steinmeier plays the role of good cop. Before the Elmau summit kicked off, he said in an interview that the G7 group needed Russia. It may make a contribution in finding a solution to some problems. Merkel is a bad cop. She spoke candidly saying that Russia’s participation in G7 summits is excluded.” About the protests, Meden notes, “The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a proposed free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States, was the main target of protests. But who cares about the sentiments expressed by ordinary people on the street when a meeting of celestial beings exchanging compliments is taking place in an ivory palace?” For full commentary see G7 In Pursuit of Certain Goals (June 9, by Natalia Meden.