Angela Merkel on Riots in Hamburg

"I condemn this violence in the strongest possible terms" Angela Merkel on Riots in Hamburg

The Chancellor has expressed her thanks to the security forces in Hamburg, on behalf of all summit participants. At the same time she stressed, "There is not the slightest justification for looting, arson and brutal attacks on the lives of police officers."

The Chancellor speaks with security forces

For the Chancellor it was particularly important to thank the security forces in person

Photo: Bundesregierung/Kugler

The Chancellor condemned "in the strongest possible terms" the "unfettered violence and unrestrained brutality" seen during the riots that accompanied the summit in Hamburg. She stated clearly, "Those who act in this way are not interested in voicing political criticism or in a better life for the people of this world." Anyone acting in this way sidelines themselves from the democratic community.

Thanks to all security forces

At the same time Angela Merkel voiced her express thanks to all security forces and to all those who worked hard to prepare for the summit. She stressed that the thanks came not only from her, but also from all other G20 leaders. Angela Merkel reported that she had spoken with the head of the police operations in Hamburg and thanked him personally. She would also be attending a meeting with Hamburg’s First Mayor Olaf Scholz, she said, to thank the security forces for their work.

Help for victims of the violence

The Chancellor pointed out that she had already spoken with the Federal Finance Minister, and that ways will now be explored with the City of Hamburg to help the victims of violence deal with the damage sustained. The relevant talks between the Federal Ministry of Finance and the City of Hamburg are to begin without delay, Angela Merkel announced.

Sympathy for peaceful demonstrations

On Friday, the Chancellor stated that she has sympathy for peaceful protests. "Violent protests, on the other hand, jeopardise lives. They endanger the protesters themselves, endanger police officers, security forces and local residents, and are quite simply unacceptable." "The security forces, who are doing their duty as we speak, have our full support – my full support. It is an extremely hard duty and we are very grateful," said Angela Merkel.

"I respect peaceful protesters"

In an interview this week with the German weekly newspaper "Zeit" the Chancellor said, "There is no justification for violent protests. I respect peaceful protestors; they are exercising their fundamental democratic rights. Violent protestors merely demonstrate their contempt of democracy," said Angela Merkel.

Violence is diametrically opposed to democratic protest

Federal Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière also commented on the violent clashes. "These are not protesters, they are criminals. Totally unfettered attacks on people and property, looting and arson committed by vandals from Germany and elsewhere in Europe have absolutely nothing to do with political motives or protest," said the Federal Interior Minister. "What we are seeing here is diametrically opposed to democratic protest. This was untrammelled and violent excess, engendered by desire to destroy and brutality, causing unnecessary suffering to officers doing their duty and to the local residents, and in the final analysis to the detriment to all those in Hamburg and elsewhere who want to exercise their right to protest peacefully."

Thomas de Maizière also thanked the police officers. "You and the leaders of the police deserve our full support and solidarity."

Civil society strongly involved in preparations

Last Monday, federal government spokesperson Steffen Seibert spoke about the planned demonstrations in Hamburg. Civil society has probably never before been so closely involved in preparing a G20 summit. A free, vibrant civil society is the basis of every democratic society, he said. The peaceful protests that had already taken place and those that were being planned were "an outward expression of a vibrant civil society".

The right to freedom of peaceful and unarmed assembly is enshrined in Germany’s Constitution, the Basic Law. Chancellor Angela Merkel said in June that in a democratic society it was important for people to take a critical look at the G20 agenda. It was, however, also clear that "their criticism should be voiced peacefully".

Jointly responsible for the security situation

Protecting state visitors is an international obligation which Germany, this year’s G20 host, is ready to fully meet. The German Government and the City of Hamburg are cooperating closely to ensure that both citizens and international guests remain safe during the G20 summit.

On 7 and 8 July the heads of state and government of the G20 states are meeting. Together, the G20 represent about two thirds of the world’s population and 80 per cent of global GDP (gross domestic product). A total of 19 heads of state and government and the EU are meeting to discuss the urgent questions of our time. They are joined by the leaders of six guest states and eight international organisations.

How will the public be kept up to date?

The Hamburg Authority for Internal Affairs and Sports and the security authorities will keep the general public up to date on all restrictions and disruption to traffic: on the ground, via the media and on the Internet at www.hamburg.de/g20-gipfel/.

Hamburg police have also set up a telephone hotline. Locals, tourists and businesses can call the toll-free number 08000 - 428650 or email g20-buergerinfo@polizei.hamburg.de from Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. with any questions they may have for the police.