Tuesday, June 20, 2006
IT MUST FEEL GOOD TO BE LOVED
Police blew up suspicious-looking packages, took up positions on virtually every street corner and made sweeping passes with helicopters over downtown Vienna on Tuesday as Austria prepared for its first visit by a US president in 27 years.
Up to 10,000 people are expected at a mass demonstration against US President George W Bush as he attends the US-European Union summit in the Austrian capital Vienna police said yesterday.
The demonstrators – under banners saying “Bush Go Home” and “Stop Bush” – plan to set off from the city’s West Station and march toward the city centre, ending up at the Votivkirche church on the fringe of Vienna’s First District.
"The name George Bush, the name of the American president, has become a symbol for war crimes, for Abu Ghraib, for Guantanamo, for Jenin, said organizer Michael Proebsting, a member of the Austrian faction of the League for the Fifth International.
The first sign of anti-Bush feeling has already been visible in Vienna since last week. Demonstrators climbed onto the roof of a tall apartment block close to the city centre and fixed a huge white-lettered sign pointed skywards: “Bush Go Home.”
Details were published yesterday of Bush’s arrival at 9.30pm (1930 GMT) today. The convoy taking him from the airport to his residence at the Vienna Intercontinental Hotel is expected to consist of 60 vehicles including Bush’s own armoured stretch limousine, flown in specially.
The airport-city motorway is due to be closed to all other traffic. Bush is expected to be accompanied by US Secret Service agents and members of Austria’s elite Cobra police overseeing his personal safety.
After Austria Bush will head to Budapest where he will be greeted by yet more protests.
A Hungarian anti-war group planning to protest George W. Bush's Thursday visit to Budapest said the US president is a politician who stands for war, invasion and torture.
Civilians for Peace called on Hungary's government not to support the American president's "warlike" policies. The group is planning a demonstration in Budapest to coincide with Bush's visit, which will follow an EU-US summit in Vienna, Austria, on Wednesday.
"The invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, the torture of prisoners and the abuse of human rights figuratively stand for Bush," a statement released by the organization said.
A force of 2,000 Hungarian police officers will joint US security staff at event venues to protect the US president and additional police will be transferred to Budapest for the day from eleven county forces, said Major General Jozsef Hatala of the national police force.
The following is from Wiener Zeitung (Austria).
Maximum security in Vienna
Vienna. An extensive security operation was locked into place yesterday hours before US President George W. Bush was due to arrive in Austria on board Air Force One.
Four security alerts were issued in the First District due to suspicious-looking packages and luggage. All four instances turned out to be harmless, though in three of the cases police bomb experts blew up the suspect items as a security measure. The fourth item contained what police described as a "political message” related to the Bush visit, but would not elaborate.
Today’s summit in the Hofburg is being protected by up to 3000 police, paramilitary and security agents from Austria and the United States. Public access to many areas in the city centre will be restricted for the duration of the summit.
Bush becomes the first sitting US leader to visit Austria since 1979 when Jimmy Carter met Soviet president Leonid Brezhnev to sign a limited nuclear arms agreement.