Embassy attack prompts Berlin security spat

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1 Dec, 2012 Updated Sat 1 Dec 2012 12:38 CEST
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Berlin city says it needs more money from the federal government to protect embassies in the capital after an attack on the Iranian embassy by angry demonstrators earlier this week raised security concerns.

It called for more funding in response to criticism from the government that it was not doing enough to protect the capital's many diplomatic buildings, the Berliner Morgenpost reported on Saturday.

The spat broke out in the wake of an attack on the Iranian embassy on Wednesday, when members of the Iranian opposition forced their way onto the grounds and vandalize the building in Dahlem in the south west.

Annoyed at what his spokesman called “diplomatic complications” resulting from the incident, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle wrote to Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit demanding better protection for embassies, the paper said.

Over the past two years there have been 13 cases of embassy buildings being stormed or occupied in the capital, a figure the government sees as unacceptable. “There is urgent need for action on protection measures for the diplomatic facilities in Berlin,” wrote Westerwelle.

“The protection of foreign embassies is Germany's obligation under international law,” Andreas Peschke, Foreign Ministry spokesman told the paper, and added that Westerwelle was yet to receive a reply.

Berlin State Secretary Bernd Krömer rejected the criticism, pointing out that the city was perfectly aware of the need to focus on security. The city-state already spends €60 million a year on protecting important buildings, but Krömer said more money would be needed if security levels were to be raised.

“Nowhere else are there so many demonstrations, rallies and events – and that takes up a lot of resources,” said Krömer. “There are 169 diplomatic missions in the city which we protect according to necessity.”

The Local/jlb



2012/12/01 12:38

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