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Home arrow newsitems arrow MAM "firm and calm" to secure Europe's Heart : Strasbourg's Human Rights symbol at NATO 2009 Summit

MAM "firm and calm" to secure Europe's Heart : Strasbourg's Human Rights symbol at NATO 2009 Summit

Written by ACM
Tuesday, 31 March 2009
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-What is really at stake and "special", with Strasbourg's 2009 NATO Summit's Security ? Apparently, it's a Mystery :

French Home affairs' Minister, Michelle Alliot-Marie, revealed that "the biggest Security operation in France for several Decades", is being set up, "for the 1st time", now, at this occasion. Why ? 

It's not the first time that a Summit takes place in France and/or Germany, who have already organized even larger Summits with much more participants. Nor the first visit of an US President, at all. And it's not because of NATO itself, neither : As an experienced former Defence Minister, Alliot-Marie, said that she has rarely seen similar threats at previous NATO Summits elsewhere (See infra).


All this points at what could be the No 1 Real Target : "Europe's Heart".

I.e. Strasbourg's Human Rights, democratic Franco-German reconciliation and East-West reunification"Symbol", extended to hopes to revive Euro-American links in an equilibrated way, open to friendly dialogue and cooperation with Russia, as Alliot-Marie's fast-track visit highlighted.

Obviously, as everywhere, and always in post-9/11 Summits, there might be some provocations, errors or blunders, attempts to deviate, provoke lacunas or abuses, under any pretext, to be manipulated and exploited by this or that dark interest, etc.

- "Good old times", before 9/11, when "journalists used to cross tens of Chiefs of State and Governments in CoE's or EU's corridors, just by going to get a coffee, as in CoE's PanEuropean 1997 Summit, precisely at this same Strasbourg city and PMC building", as "EuroFora" reminded, "are obviously gone", observed, smiling with regret, a lady journalist from Germany, where will be even more Security staff than at the French side : about 15.000 instead of some 10.000...

But Michelle Alliot-Marie was adamant, when asked by a group of Journalists, in the middle of which was "EuroFora", "what was her main Message" at the fast-track visit she made on several hot-spots to review  the overall Security mechanism prepared for the exceptionl Mega-event :

- "To be Firm and Calm", she replied, in front of all Security Officials, from Health services, Police and Secret Services, to the Military, spreading from Land and River to Airborn and even Space High-Tech segments, which face the giant task to guarantee safety and smooth functioning "at several different points scattered around in two countries" at the same time, as Strasbourg's Prefet Jean-Marc Rebiere told her from the outset.

- "This is an exceptionally important Summit", of 28 Chief of States and Governments' delegations, and a new US President, with a special Symbolism on Franco-German cooperation, while France reintegrates NATO's Military command, during an on-going conflict at Aghanistan, after even Greece recently faced some "special" incidents : This provokes a number of Risks, and the No 1 is Terrorism", Alliot-Marie warned.    

Terrorists are often "attracted by Mass Media", particularly when there is a great number of Journalists, she added, "Modern Wars are Communication Wars", and "several terrorists are more interested by the Echo given to their actions, than in them. Because their aim is to Destabilise our societies".

However, even if considerable, the number of Journalists appeared a little bit lower than some had thought earlier : Instead of more than 6.000 initially expected, current estimates were at about 3.500 Media staff in all, (i.e. with technicians, photographers, etc). But that's already big..


-  In addition, "as usual, Summits also attract Demonstrators. But here, a number of Extremists, from all European Countries, take Rendez-vous to infiltrate the demonstrators in order to pass on certain actions : Even at the  Internet, or in their own declarations, they have already launched calls for "Civil Disobedience", for Provocation,  or some  Violent actions, etc. aiming to hinder the smooth functioning of this Summit", she noted.

- "To the point that, as a former Minister of Defence who has participated in many other NATO Summits, I've rarely seen so many threats of violence !"

Indeed, Prefet Rebiere noted that, according to infos from Brussels, some demonstrators tried to enter NATO's Headquarters even there, while explicit "calls to disrupt" Strasbourg's 2009 NATO Summit multiplied. Such events indicate that "Risks are not only virtual"...

-"This obliges us to take certain precautions, in order to protect both the Summit's delegations, and the local Population, even peaceful Demonstrators, MAM stressed.
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Minister of Security "and Liberty"..
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Friendly known as "MAM", Michelle Alliot-Marie, arbored anew a smile, when she made one of her favorite points : - "I have also to protect innocent citizens and peaceful demonstrators' democratic right to express their political beliefs : After all, I'm Minister in charge both of Security and of Liberties", she reminded.

Meanwhile, most of this heavy task is at the hands of men and women wearing uniforms : Some of them astonishingly looking like young kids, girls or housewives, difficult to distinguish from normal citizens' home-life, if it wasnt' that uniform, as a group of Journalists, lost inside Strasbourg Security headquarters' meanders, saw right in front of them..

They will be dealing everyday (and night), 24/24h, with all citizens, tourists, demonstrators, etc., in a 200.000 inhabitants' urban area, where are expected "between 35.000 and 45.000 demonstrators", (i.e 20% of the local population !),  largely peaceful, even if pittoresque, but among which "some 2.000 present a real risk to use violence", MAM said.

- "All this obliges us to stop those who search to perturbate the Summit, to use violence, or refuse the rules, in particular for the demonstration", she added.

    That's why we have taken some measures, including the mobilisation of roughly 10.000 agents, Policemen, Gendarmes, special Services, etc. while even Fire-fighters, Health staff, etc. are on the stand-by".

    Initial estimates (unofficial, since the Prefect had not given any numbers for a long time) were at about 5 or 6.000 agents, and this indicates a decision to beef up the State's presence on the spot.  

- "It's the biggest Security operation in France for Decades", MAM observed. However, this remains "less than what is done from the German side, even if there are less demonstrators expected there, and the only "Alternative village" will be at the French side.

    ''So, this seems to be, today, the adequate Number, in a just proportion, considering that we have to protect many Sites, and 2.000 sensitive persons with all the delegations, including some 900 Americans, from those searching to provoke trouble".

    "At the same time, we want to prevent damages or aggressions to the detriment of the local population".  MAM added.

    In fact, it's always the same story, in this kind of Tricky situations :  - "Before any incident, you got too many agents. But, after an incident, you never have enough !", she pointed out, showing that the main thing was the delicate estimation of the real risks.

    In conclusion, we hope, by ensuring a smooth functioning of the Summit, to give a good Image for the Country and Strasbourg's beautiful city. For that purpose, "we (France) have a very good cooperation with our German friends, including in Air-Space surveillance, MAM concluded.
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High-Tech Network
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    Discreet for the moment, but more and more present on the spot, a High-Tech Network combines Land, Water, Air and Space equipments with trained staff, in order to face 2009 NATO Summit's challenge to protect the group of 28 Heads of State and Government, as well as the local population, from "risks of terrorism", harassment or provocation, by a small but active minority, while respecting a larger number of citizens' democratic, peaceful expression of various political beliefs.

    This includes, among others, also Airborn Video-surveillance, Satellite Helios, 28 Cameras from the Municipality of Strasbourg, the SIRAC system on Road Traffick surveillance, French and other allied Countries' AWACS giant Early Warning Airplanes, 10 additional intercepting Airplanes (only from the French side), 6 Fantoms, 3 Migs, more than 11 Helicopters, etc.
    To which are added also several Tanks on land, and various River floating and other vehicles, at the Rhine, (where Chiefs of State will gather before demonstrators' arrival), visited by  the Minister under special Secrecy measures....

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    "EuroFora" remembers, fex. that a "Greenpeace" boat had tried to approach,  from the Seaside, the G-8 Summit at Germany's Heiligendam village, in 2007, while a group of demonstrators penetrated a fenced-off area, obliging to stop road communications and jumb-over the barriers with noisy Military Helicopters  : Thus, a group of Journalists had to spend almost an Hour, sign a discharge in case of accident, etc.,wait massed like ..Paratroopers ready to jumb, inside a huge German Military Helico, far away at a field, to lift off and fly over the trees and the sea, making a tour around the area, before landing at another spot, and running like kamikazi to catch up with the Time lost before a Press point.. All that, just to cross a small strip of land which normally took 3 to 4 minutes only to stroll quietly..

    In Strasbourg's 2009 NATO Summit, it's even more delicate to protect, at the same time, many Sites dispersed not only among France and Germany, but also accross the City, including the European Army HQs at EuroCorps (independent from NATO, but able to cooperate), the installations of Shengen's system of information, etc.

    Thus, it's so important to constantly have an overall view of the entire picture including all delicate areas, that some 900 agents (2 times more than usually) gather, watch and check the Airborn collected Data, 24h/24 and 7/7.

    Resulting in spectacular Photos "real Time" of all hot-spots, and frequent Videos, with Geo-localisation technology able to show who is, where, at a precise moment, presented in a spectacular Multi-Screen system on the walls of Strasbourg's  Security Headquarters, (as in Paris' International Crisis' Management Center, located in the Foreign Ministry at Quai d'Orsay -Comp. relevant earlier Reportage from Paris).

    However, using a similar method as for Evian's G-8 Summit in the past, called "Synergy", this time for a larger number of States, (28, i.e. most EU Countries, to which are added not only Norway, Iceland or Croatia, but also Turkey, and soon Albania), most of the Data are given to all NATO's partners, observed an official.
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     But in fact, it's not only about the Summit itself, the politicians, the population and the buildings, etc. It's also about the Historic Symbol, the Idea, initited by its Franco-German hosts, to hold NATO's 60th Anniversary and reform Summit at the Heart of Europe, on both sides of the Rhine River, Strasbourg and Baden-Baden, culminating right at the river's center : On the famous Strasbourg-Kehl "Europe -bridge", facing the spectacular mathematically calculated pedestrian "MirMar" modern bridge, in the middle of the beatiful "2 riversides' Garden". There where EU's 2004 Enlargement to 10 Central-Eastern European countries was celebrated by EU Parliament with FireWorks, becoming a Double Symbol, in addition to the Franco-German reconciliation and cooperation, also of the End of Europe's East-West "cold war" Division.
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"Security" may lead very far.......
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    By an Irony of the sort, perhaps, the most outstanding and unexpected Symbols, which might mark Strasbourg's 60th Anniversary Summit and the reform of NATO, is the particular way Security measures themselves brought NATO's Political and Military leaders closer than ever with ...Human Rights and even Spiritual Moral Values !

- Indeed, the core of NATO Summit, Saturday at Strasbourg's "Music and Congres' Palace"  : (PMC), recently renamed "Pflimlin" building, in the memory of the city's Historic Mayor, ex-Prime Minister of France, EU Parliament and CoE Assembly's long-time President, Pierre Pflimlin, is close not only to these 2 European Institutions officially destinated to safeguard and boost Democracy, but also inside one and same .. provisional "Castle", which includes also .. the European Court of Human Rights !

nato_summit_pmc_area_400


+ Similarly, an important Franco - American bilateral Summit, between French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and new US President Barack Obama, is due to take place down-town, at Strasbourg's Rohen Castle, which was included in the same Security circle as Strasbourg's
famous, mountain-high Cathedral, an outstanding Religious monument ! ..

Questioned earlier by "EuroFora" why the Security net didn't  follow the riverside's outline, which leaves ECHR's building out, cutting it off from the PMC, an Official simply replied that : - "We couldn't abandon EuroCourt without any protection !"...  

However, "protect" ECHR is one thing. But put it inside a Top Security level circle, surrounded by fences and barriers, by tracing a delicate and long 'zig-zag" around its building, to include it in the same compound, together with NATO Summit main participants, is another story.. ..

Could this incite some NATO Military staff, and/or political leaders, to have a look also on the Human Rights dimension, and find a way to include it inside new NATO future reforms ?...

OSCE, the PanEuropean Security Organization, where both Russia and the US belong, already does so, in principle...

- "One of the advantages of OSCE's general framework is that it offers also a larger overview, including Security together with Democracy and Human Rights issues", observed, indeed, to "EuroFora" a well-informed source from the French Presidency.

 This was in reply to our question on Nicolas Sarkozy's well-known proposal, agreed with German Chancellor Merkel, to start thinking about a possible PanEuropean Security System, probably through the OSCE, in order to avoid a "crisis between USA's "missile shield"'s initial plan to put radars in Poland, Czech Republic, etc., right in front of Russia, and Moscow's counter-threat to place missiles at Kaliningrad, close to Berlin, in addition to sending giant bombardier airplanes overseas,

But it's only at the conclusions of Strasbourg's Summit that we shall know, how might be shaped "new NATO"'s outline... And it's only next year : on 2010, that it may be fixed..

Meanwhile, all ferocious anti-OTAN demonstrators or tourists, can have, at least, one big consolation : All those Military and Political egg-heads will be obliged to inevitably look and think about Human Rights and moral, religious values, because their symbols are right in front of their nose !

That's already a moral "revenge", which could only happen in Strasbourg...


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