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No role for German police at G-8 summit

The Geneva authorities fear anti-G8 demonstrations will lead to clashes with police

(Keystone Archive)

The government has said it will not ask Germany to send reinforcements to support Swiss police during the upcoming G-8 summit.

Massive protests are expected in Geneva and Lausanne, and local officials have requested extra police to be drafted in.

One possibility had been to make a formal appeal to Germany for additional officers, under an agreement signed between the two countries in March last year.

But after Friday's cabinet meeting, Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey ruled out using foreign police because such a move would signal that Switzerland felt it was not in a position to guarantee security at major events.

Instead the department of Justice Minister Ruth Metzler will try to make up numbers from local forces across Switzerland.

Calmy-Rey said other Swiss police forces had already promised 720 officers following an appeal last weekend by Micheline Spoerri, head of canton Geneva's G-8 task force. Spoerri called for an additional 1,500 to deal with the expected protests.

Metzler said the government intended to find a "Swiss" solution to the problem rather than to seek help from other countries.

Germany was asked to provide 50 police officers and six water cannon for January's World Economic Forum in the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos.

Mass demonstrations

Although the G-8 summit will be held in the France at the lakeside resort of Evian, most of the anti-globalisation demonstrations are expected to take place in the neighbouring Swiss cities of Geneva and Lausanne.

Evian is a short boat ride from Geneva, which is expected to be the scene of a protest involving at least 100,000 demonstrators on June 1, when the summit kicks off.

The staging of a world summit on Switzerland's doorstep and the likelihood of accompanying mass protests has underscored what many feel is a weakness in the country's police system

Security and civil protection are a cantonal - or local authority - matter, making it difficult to coordinate efforts and mobilise forces on a nationwide scale.

Unlike the United States, which has a national guard and the FBI, Switzerland does not have a federal police force.

There have been calls for Switzerland to adapt its police system to cope better with the increasingly violent nature of demonstrations, if it wants to maintain its reputation for being able to deal with large-scale events.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The G-8 summit will take place from June 1-3 near the Swiss border in the French town, Evian.
Swiss authorities fear the bulk of anti-globalisation protests will take place in Geneva and Lausanne.
Some 10,000 law enforcement officials are expected to take part in security operations in Switzerland.

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