©International Herald Tribune, July 21, 2001
Violence Rages at G-8 Talks
Protester Is Killed in Genoa; Leaders Upbeat on Economy
GENOA Rampaging protesters turned parts of Genoa into a war
zone on Friday as the death of one man together with more than
100 injuries overshadowed the efforts by Group of Eight leaders
to talk up the world economy.
While Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and other world leaders
defended globalization and free trade, pledged help for poor
African countries and committed $1.2 billion to the battle against
AIDS and other epidemics, nearly 20,000 policemen fought
pitched battles with protesters.
Although many of the protesters were peaceful, a minority of
anarchists bent on violence provoked the authorities by trying to
invade a top-security area ringed by steel-and-concrete barriers
and known as the red zone.
The death of one youth, and the fact that another protester and a
policemen were in critical condition Friday night, cast a shadow
over the entire meeting and caused Mr. Berlusconi and others to
defend the benefits of globalization.
The mayhem that accompanied the start of the Genoa summit
meeting could mark a turning point for world leaders, who have
faced increasingly violent protests from the World Trade
Organization meeting in Seattle in December 1999 to the Prague
session of the International Monetary Fund last September and the
more recent violence-scarred European Union summit meeting in
In Genoa on Friday, the G-8 leaders met and admitted that the
world economy had slowed more than they expected. They then
claimed that recovery was likely by year-end.
"There should be an improvement in the global economy,
particularly in the U.S., at the end of the year, in the third and
fourth quarters," said Paolo Bonaiuti, a spokesman for Mr.
But out in the streets, black smoke billowed across the city, after
thousands of protesters clashed with policemen. Banks and shops
were vandalized, cars were set on fire and anti-riot forces used
abundant amounts of tear gas to discourage small groups of violent
youths hurling rocks and other objects at the authorities.
Pressed repeatedly to comment on the clashes, the Bush
administration said, "The president regrets the violence."
Mr. Berlusconi opened the summit meeting by telling President
George W. Bush and the leaders of Germany, France, Britain,
Japan and Canada that it was worth rethinking the use of large
cities as locations for future summit meetings.
He stressed that his government had tried to defuse the
anti-globalization protests by establishing a dialogue with many
representatives but that a small minority of anarchists and others
who wanted to use violence as a protest against capitalism were
distorting the picture.
"Those who are against the G-8 are not fighting against leaders
democratically elected in their countries," he said, "they are fighting
against the Western world, the philosophy of the free world."
Mr. Berlusconi asked his peers to reconsider the future of these
meetings, and whether they should be held in large cities where a
huge police presence made locals uneasy and invited
Prime Minister Jean Chretien of Canada, whose country is
supposed to host next year's summit, said he was not ready to
announce the venue of the next meeting. Aides said this was
because of security concerns. But Mr. Chretien made clear that
"there will be no cancellation of the G-8."
One senior European official said Friday, "We certainly have to
rethink the whole process, given that we are supposed to give the
right political answers to the world's concerns."
"The leaders are concerned about poverty," he added, noting they
had pledged $1.2 billion of funds for AIDS and were also working
to reduce the debt burdens of the poorest nations as well as
dedicating Friday night to a working dinner with President Thabo
Mbeki of South Africa and other leaders from less developed
Meanwhile, the G-8 leaders dedicated 90 minutes to a discussion
of the world economy.
The G-8 statement noted that "while the global economy has
slowed more than expected over the past year, sound economic
policies and fundamentals provide a solid foundation for stronger
In the euro area, where Germany is facing the prospect of just 1
percent growth in 2001, the G-8 noted that "economic activity has
weakened" and said tax cuts and structural reforms should
This type of formulaic language was expected, yet private sector
economists had warned that such bland rhetoric would be
shrugged off by financial markets as largely meaningless.
The G-8 statement avoided any statement on the strong dollar.
Mr. Bush said this week that the dollar's level should be left to
Asked whether the White House wants a weaker dollar to help
U.S. exporters, Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser,
said in an interview, "The President believes the dollar will find its
own level in the markets."
When pressed further to explain if this meant Mr. Bush was
ditching the long-standing U.S. policy of maintaining a strong
dollar, Ms. Rice replied, "The president said what he said."
The G-8 also offered its support to efforts by Argentina and
Turkey to avoid defaulting on debts and to stabilize their crisis