HAMBURG: German police clashed with protesters before a G20 summit in Hamburg on Thursday, tarnishing the outset of a meeting Chancellor Angela Merkel hopes will cement her role as a stateswoman as she seeks re-election in September.
Merkel, who is campaigning for a fourth term, can ill afford images of chaos and disharmony. The summit, which starts in full on Friday, is a chance for her to polish her diplomatic credentials, but would be disastrous if marred by violence.
She met US President Donald Trump for an hour on Thursday evening, but less than an hour later police clashed with anti-capitalist demonstrators near the summit venue and fired water cannon at black-clad protesters after they threw bottles.
An eyewitness saw one protester with blood on his face being treated. “Welcome to Hell” was the protesters’ greeting for Trump and other world leaders arriving for the two-day meeting.
Merkel has taken a high-risk gamble by choosing to hold the summit in the northern port city of Hamburg, partly to show the world that big protests are tolerated in a healthy democracy.
Before meeting Trump, she struck a consensual tone, holding out hope for agreement on the divisive issue of climate policy and pledging to broker compromises.
Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2017