SO FAR the “alternative G20 summit” being organised by protestors in Nice has taken place without violence – to the relief of inhabitants and shopkeepers.
There were concerns that the events could lead to a repeat of the violence which took place during the European summit in 2,000, at which extensive damage was caused.
However, with an estimated 1,500 mobile gendarmes and CRS riot police deployed in Nice, backed up by plain clothes police, matters seem to have been kept well under control.
Some 8,000 protesters paraded in the streets yesterday, in a festive atmosphere, calling for a “better, fairer and more humane world” and to “say no to the diktats of the financial markets and the banks”. “People first, not finance”, was the theme.
The protestors have set up their headquarters at the former Nice abattoir buildings in the north-east of the town. A concert was held there last night. Various debates and workshops are being held. Their organisers include dozens of associations, including Greenpeace, and green and far left parties.
Today protests are expected to be held in Cap d’Ail, east of Nice, on the border with Monaco.
Meanwhile, security is high as preparations are made for the start of the G20 summit tomorrow. A high security zone requiring a pass to enter has been set up around the Palais des Festivals and the nearby parts of La Croisette and the town centre.
Key themes to be debated at the G20 summit include how to relaunch world economic growth and reform of the monetary system.
It comes as Greece’s decision to hold a referendum on whether or not to accept the euro rescue package thrashed out in Brussels last week has caused new fears for the single currency.
President Sarkozy and German chancellor Angela Merkel have called the Greek prime minister to a meeting in Cannes today ahead of the summit, saying they are “determined” the euro safeguard plan will go ahead.