Germany Tightens Security Ahead of G8 Summit

By Stephen Mbogo | July 7, 2008 | 8:18 PM EDT

Berlin, Germany ( - German authorities are increasing security around the country, expecting protests against a Group of Eight summit to be held here next month. Among other things, the G8 leaders will consider a proposal to help African nations set up a peacekeeping force.

The gathering of leaders of the world's most highly industrialized nations will be held at the Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm on June 6-8.

As host, Germany faces two main security challenges: More than 100,000 protesters are expected to try to reach the venue, to demonstrate against globalization (among many other causes); and fears of terrorism are high.

Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Tuesday the government is "watching specific activities of the left-extremists, violent globalization opponents [and Islamist terrorists] with care," ahead of the summit

Schaeuble also warned that the government will apply "preventative" custody of potential troublemakers for up to 14 days if police find evidence that they are planning a crime.

To improve security ahead of the summit, German police in the past week raided roughly 40 locations in six of the country's states. The raids stem from ongoing investigations of two groups that allegedly want to disrupt or even prevent the summit. Police said they recovered an assortment of non-conventional bomb-making materials.

Thousands of people marched in protest against the raids, saying they were an attempt to criminalize otherwise legitimate anti-globalization groups.

Germany has installed a $20-million fence around the Baltic Sea resort to keep protesters out, while the Interior Ministry said the country will reintroduce border security checks to stop potentially violent protesters from entering the country.

Full agenda

According to Germany's Chancellery Minister Thomas de Maiziere, the summit's agenda will include efforts to push the World Trade Organization (WTO) to continue its talks on further freeing up international trade.

Leaders of the G8 - the U.S., Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia - will discuss the social impact of globalization. Groups opposed to the phenomenon say it is harming the world's poor nations.

As at previous G8 summits, Africa is likely to feature prominently on the agenda in Heiligendamm. On Monday, representatives of the G8 met with the African Union in Ethiopia and agreed to put forward a request for financial support for a peacekeeping force on the continent.

A.U. Peace and Security Commissioner Said Djinnit said Africa must help promote peace-building and reconstruction in areas emerging from war or other conflicts.

The A.U. has begun a process of establishing an Africa Standby Force by 2010, and is seeking G8 aid to make it happen. Currently ad-hoc forces comprising troops from willing African countries are deployed in Somalia and Sudan's Darfur region, but the proposed force would oblige countries to contribute.

G8 aid to Africa in general also is expected to feature at the summit. A group known as Data, founded by musician-activists Bono and Bob Geldof to monitor the developed world's assistance to Africa, says that between 2004 and 2006, G8 members contributed less than half of the amount needed to make good on earlier pledges to double aid to Africa to $50 billion by 2010 ($10 billion a year from 2005-2010).

Maiziere said the leaders also will seek ways in which hedge funds can be monitored and regulated. As G8 president, Germany has been lobbying for international support for a law to regulate private equity firms and hedge funds.

The leaders will discuss ways to combat "global warming," including possible ways to incorporate emerging nations like China, India, South Africa and Brazil into a post-Kyoto Protocol agreement on greenhouse gas emissions.

Kyoto, which expires in 2012, required industrialized nations to curb emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases blamed for climate change by specified quantities by 2012, but countries like China and India were exempt, despite being major CO2 emitters.

That exemption was one of the reasons cited by the Bush administration (and the Australian government) in deciding to walk away from the Kyoto Protocol -- a situation that continues to cause tensions between the U.S. and its Kyoto-supporting European allies.

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