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Bush to appeal for Europe's support on trip to Berlin

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

BERLIN -- In this city where two of his predecessors made fiery Cold War speeches, President Bush is looking to rekindle European support that surged after Sept. 11 but has lately been on the wane, amid perceptions the United States is increasingly going it alone in world affairs.

American officials say Bush will use a rare invitation to address the German parliament on Thursday to underscore the need for continued cooperation in the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

Germans and other Europeans have grown worried about the aggressive U.S. stance toward Iraq, Iran and North Korea -- the triumvirate Bush labeled the "axis of evil" -- as well as a range of other administration policies.

"The perception is that there is an ongoing struggle inside the administration between people who think they can do all this alone ... and a group that thinks that the war on terrorism cannot be won without partners," said Thomas Risse, an international relations professor at the Free University of Berlin.

"The question is, where does the president stand on this, and I think that is what people want to hear."

Staying at the plush Hotel Adlon in former East Berlin, Bush will be only a few hundred yards from the Brandenburg Gate.

It was from the other side of the 18th-century city portal that Ronald Reagan admonished Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev 15 years ago to allow the reunification of Germany with the famous words: "Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

After the Sept. 11 attacks, some 200,000 Berliners gathered at the gate to show solidarity with the United States. Many wore shirts or held signs proclaiming "We are all New Yorkers," adopting the phrase of John F. Kennedy's electrifying 1963 "Ich bin ein Berliner," translated "I am a Berliner," speech in support of then West Berlin, an outpost surrounded by communist East Germany.

Much of the early support has faded, however, and some 100 protests are planned across Germany to coincide with the Bush visit.

War protests

In the first major demonstration Tuesday, police estimated tens of thousands of people turned out in Berlin to protest any widening of the war on terrorism.

Some protesters carried placards that read "Pretzels instead of bombs" and "War is terror -- stop the global Bush fire."

"This theory of the 'axis of evil' is dangerous, and allies like Germany need to take this opportunity to warn him," said protester Christa Peter, a 46-year-old teacher.

Authorities mobilized more than 10,000 officers to provide security ahead of and during Bush's 19 hours in Berlin, which begin this evening and end Thursday afternoon when he flies to Moscow.

A series of other protests, large and small, against U.S foreign policy, are planned for today and Thursday -- ranging from an interreligious prayer service to a demonstration by "cowboys and cowgirls against war."

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's junior coalition partner, the Greens, issued a statement declaring support for many of the protesters' concerns, though it stopped short of officially endorsing the demonstrations.

"We have substantial and increasing criticism of the policy developments of the U.S. administration over the past months," the party said.

Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer broke with other Greens, telling Der Spiegel magazine Germans should not greet Russian President Vladimir Putin with open arms as they did last month, then treat Bush like an enemy.

But the feeling of exclusion from U.S. decision-making continues to reach the highest levels in European governments.

German officials, for example, say Washington should have been explicit from the outset about how it wanted its allies to contribute militarily to the anti-terror campaign. Instead, there was an embarrassing back-and-forth in November when Schroeder said Germany was asked for certain contributions only to have Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld say no specific requests had been made.

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Dan Coats said Bush plans to use his speech in the German parliament to talk about cooperation and to explain American policies and decisions over the last months.


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