Berlusconi fears the next Gothenburg

Barry Stoller bstoller at
Mon Jun 18 21:24:12 MDT 2001

New York Times. 19 June 2001. Italian Chief Worried About Summit
Protests. Excerpts.

ROME -- Worried about a repetition in Italy of the violent protests that
occurred at a European Union meeting in Sweden last weekend, Prime
Minister Silvio Berlusconi said today that he wanted to open a dialogue
with demonstrators who are planning to march at the Group of 8 summit
meeting in Genoa next month.

Mr. Berlusconi seem[s] preoccupied with how his government would deal
with the next major international meeting when more than 100,000
anti-globalization demonstrators are expected to converge on the
medieval port city.

Mr. Berlusconi, like other leaders, was alarmed by fierce clashes
between anti-globalization demonstrators and the riot police in
Goteborg, Sweden, last week. Concerned that something similar---or
worse---could happen when he plays host to President Bush and other
world leaders on July 20-22, he met with his interior minister on
Saturday to review security measures.

Clearly worried that his government might be blamed for any violence in
Genoa, Mr. Berlusconi went on the offensive, telling reporters that any
problems there would be "the responsibility of the preceding

Genoa was selected as the site for the meeting in 1999, when Massimo
D'Alema was prime minister. But when the issue came up for a vote in
Parliament last year, Mr. Berlusconi's center-right opposition also
voted in favor of Genoa.

Although Mr. Berlusconi wants to open a dialogue with the protesters,
few expect him to be able to soften their attitudes.

"No dialogue, no participation in fake negotiating tables," Luca
Casarini, a leader of an Italian anti-globalization group, said today in
the Milan newspaper Corriere della Sera.

"After Seattle, the point is to block the meetings, not tame them."

Even inside Parliament, there were signs of defiance.

Hard-line Italian Communists view the summit meeting as an elitist club
that undermines the United Nations General Assembly. As Mr. Berlusconi
spoke, a few Communist lawmakers held up red signs saying, "No to the


Barry Stoller

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