WORLD NEWS - EUROPE: Fears for policing in the narrow streets of Genoa
Financial Times, Jun 18, 2001 By JAMES BLITZ
Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's new prime minister, has expressed renewed
concern about plans to stage next month's Group of Eight summit in the
north Italian city of Genoa following the weekend violence in Gothenburg,
writes James Blitz in Rome.
Returning to Italy from the European Union summit in Sweden on Saturday
night, Mr Berlusconi immediately held talks with Claudio Scajola, interior
minister, about arrangements for the Genoa G8.
He is today expected to raise the matter in his first keynote speech to
the Italian parliament since winning the May 13 election.
Mr Berlusconi told reporters in Gothenburg he was "worried" about the
choice of Genoa for the G8 summit "and so are other heads of government".
He added: "The choice of Genoa, which we did not make, was unfortunate" -
a reference to the fact that the summit venue was decided by Massimo
D'Alema's centre-left government in December 1999.
Mr Berlusconi will be hosting US President George W. Bush, Russian
President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of Germany, Japan, France,
Britain and Canada at the July 20-22 talks.
The Italian authorities have long been concerned that the next G8 summit
will be the focus of anti-globalisation demonstrations far more extensive
than those seen in previous summits. More than 100,000 demonstrators are
expected to converge on the city during the G8.
One concern relates to threats made by Italian centri sociali - the
collective name given to a mix of anarchists, unemployed and homeless
groups - who have warned they are going to turn Genoa into a battleground.
But Mr Berlusconi is particularly worried that the port city is badly
suited for an event on the scale of the G8. The city has many narrow
streets and alleys that make it difficult for the police to control
crowds. It has been called by urban planners a city lacking in public
services with a traffic problem and a historic centre that has never been
Franco Frattini, a leading figure in Italy's government, yesterday said
Genoa was unsuitable "because of its urban layout, which is thin and
narrow, sandwiched between the mountains and the sea".
Italian newspapers speculated yesterday that the government could move the
venue from Genoa to another city. Italy has already switched the venue for
the G8 foreign ministers' meeting on July 18-19 to Rome from Portofino.
Sandro Biasotti, president of the Liguria region, of which Genoa is
capital, told Corriere Della Sera: "After seeing the scenes in Gothenburg,
I think that if they decide to take the G8 away from Genoa. . . I might
even breathe a sigh of relief."
Copyright: The Financial Times Limited
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