Traude, please let us know what the German reaction really is to Bush's visit next week. I think he's leaving for Europe on Sunday.
Der Spiegel has an article on its english website that describes the preparations in Mainz, a german city Bush wants to visit.
SPIEGEL ONLINE, February 18, 2005
SPIEGEL'S DAILY TAKE
The Second Coming of Bush
The preparations for US President Bush's visit to Germany next week are in full force. From removing flower pots from the city center to welding shut manhole covers, nothing is being left to chance. And, new torture allegations are leveled against the US military in Afghanistan. Plus, a Sino sex bomb hits Berlin.
The Anatomy of a Presidential Visit
Germany doesn't want anything to happen to Bush on its watch.
The official line in Germany is, of course, that the country is pleased to be honored by a visit from the most powerful man in the world. US President George W. Bush's visit next week is, after all, a chance for Germany and the US to finally put the trans-Atlantic bickering behind them and to move on to more important issues like making sure that Iran doesn't get the atomic bomb and the North Koreans don't use theirs. For the city hosting Bush -- Mainz, a city of 200,000 residents located on the Rhine River in Western Germany -- however the visit is roughly akin to the imposition of martial law. Here, a list of some of the security precautions being taken by US security personnel and by the city of Mainz as it prepares to host Bush and his entourage of 1,000:
* Four major highways on the outskirts of the city will be closed in both directions from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and again from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
* Local hospitals have already been inspected by a dozen members of Bush's security detail. The university clinic has been declared off-limits to "normal patients" during Bush's visit (except for the emergency room) and is reserved for the president should something happen to him.
* All schools in Mainz and three schools in the nearby town of Wiesbaden will be closed on Wednesday of next week -- the day of Bush's visit -- because of disrupted transportation and because many of them are located in the closed-off center of Mainz.
* A number of Mainz businesses will remain closed and many others will operate with only a skeleton crew due to difficulties most employees will have getting to work.
* Manhole covers in the city center are being welded shut to eliminate hiding places for bombs. Other potential dangers, such as cars, mailboxes, flower pots and garbage cans are being removed.
* For days, jumbo jets have been landing in the region and unloading armored limousines, the President's helicopter Marine One, and vast amounts of communications equipment for the creation of sound and bug-proof radio rooms.
* Residents in the city center are forbidden to go out onto their balconies during Bush's visit and some 1,200 Mainz residents who live near the palace where Bush and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder are to meet will only be allowed to enter their apartments after having undergone security checks. Strategically important balconies, roofs and windows will be manned by American snipers.
* Shipping on the Rhine will be halted during the brief boat trip on the river to be taken by Bush.
The President will be in Mainz for a grand total of 11 hours on his way from Brussels to Slovakia. (2:35 p.m. CET)
As far as I know there will be a lot of demonstrations throughout the whole country for the german population isn't very happy for this visit,
but I doubt that he'll see any protests.
The same goes for Belgium as well.