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Barbed wire to protect EU leaders meeting in Copenhagen

Three kilometres of barbed wire will be placed between the EU top politicians and the people of Copenhagen during the Danish EU presidency summit, report several Danish newspapers. According to Jyllands-Posten (JP) it is the first time that this method is used in Denmark.

"The erection of this wall of power is 100 per cent in keeping with the tendency we see everywhere in the world ... It is an instance of a deep distrust of the Danish people, and the best description of this wall would be ´the wall of shame'," says Claus Petersen, Global Roots spokesman, quoted by JP.

The Copenhagen police argue, according to JP, that the so-called "NATO barbed wire" which differs from ordinary barbed wire in having small barbs with hooks placed every few centimetres, is used instead of the human wall of police that would otherwise be necessary and which cannot be supplied. And the people participating in the meetings will not see the wire as "it will be screened off for aesthetic reasons in all visible places", according to the
police, quoted by Jyllands-Posten.

Global Roots have not yet decided whether to make any demonstrations in front of the Bella Center, where the summit will be held in December, but "if we decide to demonstrate by the Bella Center, we shall do it, with or without barbed wire," says Claus Pedersen, continuing, quoted by JP:

"This is such an un-Danish thing, and at the same time the police continue to arm themselves and practise street fighting, while the activists are trying to act in a peaceful manner. Our point is - also in connection with possible demonstrations - that the fence will remove decisions still farther from the people," says Claus Petersen.

Dialogue brought to a complete standstill

The reaction from the Copenhagen police is that Global Roots have made a very unwise statement which might jeopardize the great efforts made by the police as well as the grassroot movements to make things work in a peaceful manner. This, coupled with the demand from Global Roots that all negotiations between the police and grassroot organisations should be in writing and pubished, has brought the dialogue to a complete standstill, according to Kai Vittrup, Copenhagen chief police commissioner, who insists on negotiating with the activists face to face, writes JP.

Great efforts are being made by the network "Stop the Violence" to avoid scenes like those at the Göteborg Summit last year where fighting between police and violent activists created enormous problems for the manifestations of the overwhelming majority of peaceful demonstrators.

The barbed wire will remain until the end of the year, just as people in some Copenhagen streets will have to put up with traffic problems caused by blocking roads for security reasons for the same period.

Source: Written by Luise Hemmer Pihl Edited by Lisbeth Kirk Copyright EUobserver 2000, 2001, 2002

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