Rome shields itself after violent demonstrations against the COVID passport for the G20

The city of Rome, which is hosting the G20 summit this weekend, has deployed a powerful security operation with more than 5,000 police officers who will patrol the streets to conduct violent demonstrations such as those that took place two weeks ago against the requirement of a health passport prevent and this led to serious unrest and the attack on the headquarters of the main Italian trade union.

The EUR area, a peripheral neighborhood built by dictator Benito Mussolini in the 1930s, will host the summit and has been declared a red zone of high alert. The entire area remains completely closed to traffic and the schools and businesses located there were closed from Friday to Sunday.

The security operation includes sniffer dogs as well as fighter jets, military helicopters and drones to control the airspace. Various demonstrations are planned by activists against the climate emergency from ‘Fridays For Future’ as well as by workers who have lost their jobs and various NGOs who will protest against the difficulties of countries with less economic resources in accessing vaccines against COVID-19.

Rome shields itself after violent demonstrations against the COVID passport for the G20
Rome shields itself after violent demonstrations against the COVID passport for the G20

The G-20 summit will be held with two major absences, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin; As well as the Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and the Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will not be present. For example, although the meetings will continue via videoconference and will be represented by their respective foreign ministers, the fact that neither Xi nor Putin traveled to Rome could mean a halt to negotiations on reducing greenhouse gas emissions before 2050.

This is one of the issues that will be on the G20 table in preparation for COP26 in Glasgow, UK, which will be held from November 1st to 12th. China is the most polluting country with 28% of global emissions, while Russia ranks fourth on the list of the most polluting countries with almost 5%.

Both Putin and Xi Jinping have justified their absence by saying that their main concern is the coronavirus. In the case of the Chinese president, he has not left his country since January 2020 when the pandemic broke out. The Russian president, for his part, was last isolated as a precaution.

The Presidents of the United States and France, Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron, respectively, will have their first face-to-face meeting on Friday following the diplomatic crisis sparked by the submarine sale treaty to Australia and the new defense pact in the Indo-Pacific to contain China, both initiatives that marginalized France.

Paris even went so far as to convene its ambassador in Washington for consultations, as the maximum sign of the violation of the agreement signed by the Biden administration with London and Canberra. This meeting, which aims to resolve the French government’s dissatisfaction with the deal to sell US nuclear submarines to Australia – it meant the breach of a multi-million dollar deal for France – will be one of the most important moments of the weekend.

The summit officially starts on Saturday, but on Friday, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi will privately receive and receive some of the leaders. Biden, who will visit the Pope at the Vatican early Friday, is due to meet Draghi at 3 p.m. in the Chigi Palace, the seat of the Italian government. Before that, Biden will meet with the Italian President Sergio Mattarella in the Quirinal Palace.

Draghi is also expected to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This latest meeting will also serve to defuse tensions following the diplomatic crisis that led Draghi to refer to Erdogan as a “dictator” at a press conference.

In addition to the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, the Argentine President Alberto Fernández has also confirmed participation; Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison; the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau; the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson; the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi; the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro; the President of South Korea, Moon Jae In; the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa; King Salman of Saudi Arabia; Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a representative of the European Union.

Indeed, it will be the first personal summit since the pandemic outbreak and an important opportunity as many leaders will meet again in person after more than two years. By and large, this edition of the G20 will focus on the fight against climate change, the coronavirus and the actions necessary for a global post-pandemic recovery. Experts consider this summit to be particularly important because it will serve as the prelude to the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), which will take place from November 1st in Glasgow, Scotland.

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