Mediator announces first Stuttgart 21 talks

Mediated talks over the controversial Stuttgart 21 rail project will begin on Friday in the southern German city. The two sides agreed on the first official meeting on Thursday night.

Mediator announces first Stuttgart 21 talks
Photo: DPA

Heiner Geißler, a veteran CDU politician brought in to mediate between the project leaders and demonstrators, has said that construction on the multi-billion-euro infrastructure project will be halted during talks until November, news magazine Der Spiegel reported.

Opponents of the expensive overhaul of Stuttgart’s main train station had demanded a stop to construction as a prerequisite for talks.

On Friday morning Geißler plans to gather seven Stuttgart 21 leaders and seven opponents for a private meeting, he said. Subsequent meetings will be publicly broadcast online.

“With this we’re opening a totally new way of citizen participation,” Geißler said, adding that it would bring more transparency and credibility to the country’s parliamentary democracy.

Baden-Württemberg’s conservative state premier Stefan Mappus welcomed the talks.

“It is good that project proponents and opponents can discuss the topic,” he said. “The dialogue can now begin. That means everything and everyone at the table.”

Mappus also said he still hoped to convince the public of the value of the project.

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 two weeks ago 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.

DAPD/DPA/The Local/ka

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