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Media Scare Stories on Genoa G-8 Protests Continue

Reuters - Italy plans to shut down Genoa's airport, port and access roads ahead of a summit of world leaders next month but Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero said yesterday dialogue with peaceful protesters would remain open.
From Reuters wire: Italy to shut down all access to Genoa for G8 Meet

ITALY: June 22, 2001 ROME - Italy plans to shut down Genoa's airport, port and access roads ahead of a summit of world leaders next month but Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero said yesterday dialogue with peaceful protesters would remain open.

Thousands of police officers will erect a cordon of steel in an area arching from the Mediterranean port, known as the "red zone", where unauthorised movement will be banned from 7 a.m. (0500 GMT) on July 18 until the Group of Eight summit closes on July 22.

The red zone is the section of the city of 632,000 people where leaders of the G8 - the United States, Russia, Germany, Japan, France, Britain, Italy and Canada - will meet for the summit conference on July 20-22.

The official G8 website said Genoa's Cristoforo Colombo airport would close to private and commercial traffic from 7 a.m. (0500 GMT) on July 19 to 8 p.m. (1800 GMT) on July 22, when all G8 leaders were expected to have left the city.

Details of when trains will halt and at which stations were still under negotiation, but boats and ferries will be banned from 11 a.m. (0900 GMT) on July 18 to midnight (2200 GMT) July 22. Cargo and commercial ships will also be restricted.

Around 200,000 protesters from hundreds of groups, including environmentalists and the Drop-the-Debt movement, are expected.

In Rome, Ruggiero said appealed to non-governmental organisations, saying they had had huge success in pushing issues such as poverty, AIDS and sustainable development.

"Instead of fighting each other, if we can get together to unite our forces, then we can really change the world," the 71-year-old former World Trade Organisation chief said.

"But if you start off with iron bars, hate and violence, we'll never change the world," he added.

The minister also told reporters in parliament that he was thinking about organising a pre-summit meeting with leaders of developing nations, but foreign ministry sources said nothing had yet been defined.

Interior Minister Claudio Scajola later told parliament that the government would meet members of the Genoa Social Forum, an organisation grouping scores of protest groups, next week to agree on a demonstration itinerary.

ANARCHISTS EXPECTED

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's new centre-right government said it would take all measures to prevent the sort of violence that has marred recent international meetings, such as the European Union summit in the Swedish port of Gothenburg last weekend, at which police shot and injured three people.

Beyond the so-called "red zone", Italian authorities are setting up another area arching out across the city, designated as "the yellow zone", where demonstrations will also be banned.

Metros will be shut and two flyovers will be closed.

While taking care to recognise publicly the right to demonstrate peacefully, the government is earmarking areas beyond the yellow zone, more than three km (1.864 miles) from the summit venue, for protests.

An Italian secret service report leaked to Milan's Corriere della Sera said yesterday hard-core Spanish, Greek, French and British activists could join Italian anarchists at the summit.

Some newspapers speculated that Italy could seal borders with France and Austria to halt anyone named as undesirable.

In Milan, Genoa Social Forum spokesman Carlo Schenone said the groups welcomed government plans to provide up to 3.0 billion lire ($1.3 million) to accommodate expected crowds.

"But we are still going to push for them to get rid of the 'yellow zone', where demonstrations are not allowed. We won't even be able to distribute leaflets there," he said.

Story by Steve Pagani
 
 

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