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Stuttgart 21 mediation questioned after flap

The Local · 8 Oct 2010, 08:34

Published: 08 Oct 2010 08:34 GMT+02:00

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The state premier's Stefan Mappus said he doubted that many opponents of the massive revamp of Stuttgart's main train station, including the environmentalist Greens, even wanted to reach an agreement, saying the situation had become extremely tense.

“For some, including some within the Green party, this is not just about the train station,” Mappus told daily Bild, accusing the party of failing to achieve their aims within the state parliament and taking their cause to the streets.

Stopping the €4.1-billion overhaul of Stuttgart’s most important rail link would cost more than €1 billion, Mappus told the paper, adding that the expensive undertaking was a good investment.

“Such rail projects shape the economy for more than 100 years,” the conservative Christian Democrat said.

Meanwhile the Greens’ state parliamentary group leader Winfried Kretschmann questioned the sense of mediation between the two sides if Mappus refused to alter a single aspect of the building plans.

The Greens want to discuss the rising costs and viability of Stuttgart 21, he told daily Berliner Zeitung, adding this would be impossible if Mappus did not change his behaviour.

“It’s about alternatives, not denial,” he said.

The two sides were thrown into confusion on Thursday evening, when mediator Heiner Geißler, who was recently appointed by the state government, would be suspended until December.

Opponents have demanded a halt to construction as a prerequisite to mediated talks, but the state government immediately denied that construction would stop, saying the suspension was limited to some tree-clearing in the city centre and demolition of parts of Stuttgart's station.

Geißler, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), had been "misunderstood," a Baden-Württemberg government spokesman said.

The mediator had said that "no irreversible act" would be taken until more discussions took place. Official talks between the two sides are scheduled for the end of next week.

The Greens said Mappus was partly to blame for the confusion.

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“One might think that Mappus wants to put an end to talks before they’ve even begun,” the Greens’ chief whip in federal parliament, Volker Beck, told daily Handelsblatt, adding that their denial of their appointed mediator’s comments was peculiar.

Stuttgart 21 is a massive undertaking to make the city part of a 1,500-kilometre high-speed rail route across Europe. It will require 16 new tunnels, 18 new bridges, 60 kilometres of new train track and three new stations. Stuttgart's terminus will be transformed into an underground through-station – requiring a dramatic re-landscaping of the city centre.

In recent weeks demonstrations against the project have intensified, coming to a head last Thursday when more than 100 protestors were injured as police turned water cannons, batons, and tear gas on the crowd to break up their blockade of the construction site.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:38 October 8, 2010 by dankworth
I love to hear about pompous state officials like Stefan Mappus blindsided by public opposition they never expected and crying that "this has all been already decided". Guess not Stefan.
14:45 October 8, 2010 by Kennneth Ingle
For those of us who have looked at the development of Germany, from the time of a military crazed monarchy, via a weak republic to a nationalist dictatorship which then was followed by a total collapse, a light feeling of despondency must arise.

The fear that Germans are unable to survive a life as democrats, seems to be as true today as it was when Hitler described the people as a being like a flock of sheep, which follows its leaders without knowing where the journey will end.

The definition of democracy, being a government ­ by the people, for the people through the people, has been fully misunderstood. The politicians are of course voted into power by the electorate, but the balloters have little chance to influence the political course taken. The country is under the domination of a system of administration which can be described with, by the parties for the parties. Not democracy, but dictatorship for a limited length of time would be a better description for what is now happening, not only in Stuttgart, but in many towns and lands within the nation.

One can only hope, that with the problems in Stuttgart, the problems with finance and the problems with integration, the populace will start to wake up and go on to the streets in a similar manner to their neighbours in France.

The Germans are not a bad people, but they do tend to accept, without resistance, shameless political decisions and activities, which no other Europeans would stand for. Mr. Geißler will have a tough job to get things in order.
19:58 October 8, 2010 by FreiburgandCambridge
Sorry but Stuttgart station is crap and needs to be updated.

How can anything get done if "The People" come out and demonstrate against it all the time. There are a whole bunch of other people out there who are very much for Stuttgart 21 but we don't demonstrate for it as we have better things to do.
09:41 October 9, 2010 by rap
Whether Heiner Geissler can really be the "independent arbiter" remains to be seen--he is, not least because of his longtime supportership of the ATTAC group, and his own political pedigree as a "green" Christian Democrat, more on the side of those that are against the Stuttgart project. Also, whatever the Greens say in this controversy, has to be taken with a big grain of salt. If they talk, like Cem Ozedemir or Claudia Roth, about something like a "normal railway" as opposed to this "megalomanic Stuttgart project," they omit that they sabotage Deutsche Bahn wherever they can, for example right now with their campaign against the planned new coal power plant in Mannheim, which is to provide electricity for Deutsche Bahn's trains. And if it comes to the "cost factor" at Stuttgart 21: if the Greens are really so concerned about the protection of the taxpayer--why then did they vote for banking bailouts that burden the taxpayer with hundreds of billions of euros (this same critique also goes against the Christian Democrats, the Social Democrats, and the Free Democrats, naturally). Otherwise, I disagree: those that are for the Stuttgart project, should not hide at home and complain about things in front of their TV set, but instead take to the streets and make their voice heard.

On Stuttgart 21 as such: granted, not all of its aspects look ideal, but the fact remains that if Germany's south--after Munich blocked the Transrapid project there two years ago and is incapable of even building a normal commuter train--remains opposed to railway modernization, international passenger and freight transport will bypass those German regions which will then be reduced to a kind of nature protection park, with slow Disneyland trains and classic horse-pulled carriages. And the grass for the hay, which these horses need to eat, may then be grown right in the middle of Stuttgart--where the old central station is now...
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