The upcoming G8 Summit, which formally begins on June 6, is one of the biggest security operations in Germany’s post-war era.
The German government has brought roughly 16,000 police officers and 1,100 soldiers from across the country to Heiligendamm, Germany, a small resort town on the Baltic coast where the Summit will take place. Germany also surrounded the town with a 12 kilometer long fence topped with barbed wire (see photo). The remote location and the fence are designed to keep G8 leaders in and everybody else out, even the media center is outside the wall and local demonstrations have been taking place miles away in Rostock, the nearest city to Heiligendamm.
It is not clear what the G8 are most concerned about, an act of terrorism or massive demonstrations led by their own civilians. Ever since hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets at the G8 Summit in Genoa, Italy, G8 summits have been held in remote locations far away from large cities where massive protests can be organized.
Canada held its most recent summit in a mountain resort far away from the nearest city, Britain’s was held at a remote golf course in Scotland, and the U.S. held its most recent summit on an island off the coast. The one exception was Russia, which last year held its summit in St.Petersburg amidst heavy security. Japan was apparently considering holding next year’s G8 Summit in Kyoto, but recently announced that it would hold the Summit in a remote area in the northern part of the country, far from any major population centers.
While the Summit doesn’t officially begin for another couple of days, demonstrations and counter-summits are well underway. I spent most of yesterday in a conference in Rostock with debt campaigners from around the world that have come to Germany to demand that the G8 cancel the debts of the world’s most impoverished countries. Oil Change International is working with these organizations on the role that oil plays in driving indebtedness.
Along with our partners in the debt movement, we are demanding that wealthy countries stop using foreign assistance to subsidize oil companies and focus instead on helping countries transition away from their dependence on oil. The oil shocks of the 1970s helped to trigger the modern debt crisis and volatile oil prices are a major source of economic instability for the world’s poorest countries. As a result, overcoming our addiction to oil and breaking free of the debt trap are often two sides of the same coin.