hoeksteen on Mon, 12 May 1997 23:18:27 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Amsterdam getting ready for the Eurotop

Getting ready for the EurotopThe European Summit June 1997, 16th and 17th.
by Raul Marroquin and Hannes Vegter

Amsterdam is getting ready for the European Summit in next 16th and 17th
June that will crown the Dutch Presidency for the first half of 1997. On an
international level, the Dutch will be dealing with sensitive subjects as
i.e. the monetary union . Dutch Prime Minister Kok together with his
Foreign Affairs Minister Hans van Mierlo will have to warm up newly elected
PM Tony Blair and the French  President Jaques Chirac for the single
currency in Europe. The city itself is getting accostumed to radical
changes that Amsterdammers have to deal with during that period. Throughout
the entire summit, areas of the city where the summit will take place, i.e.
the Nederlandse Bank  and the areas wherein the hotels lie where Heads of
State will stay, will be cordened off for cars, cyclists and pedestrians.
Those living and working in these areas will be issued with special
identification. Furthermore, they have to carry  their own ID like drivers
license or passport. A touchy  subject for the Dutch and Amsterdammers
alike.  Until recently  Dutch citizens had no obligation to carry ID with
them. Nowadays ID is required when driving a  vehicle, conducting visits to
the bank or riding the tram or bus without a valid ticket.
Next to this, the city  presently is experiencing a thoughrough clean-up
that would have been impossible a few years ago. Streetmusicians and
beggars are quietly but  firmly removed from the city streets. Since the
end of 1996, Schelto Patijn , Mayor, has ordered the closure of coffeshops
and discotheques where drugdealing is suspected. One of the oldest
surviving ones,
the Mazzo  had been closed for almost half a year. Mayor Patijn is not a
popular person in Amsterdam. Being a member of a prominent regent family, a
member of the the Dutch Labour Party PvdA  alongside it, his brother
Michiel is a Dutch Liberal Party Member ( called VVD)and an MP. His other
brother is the Mayor of the city of Naarden,  one of the poshiest
neighbourhoods in the country.  Mr Patijn had to be convinced to leave his
comfortable residence of Voorburg to come to Amsterdam.  The Chairman of
the Labour faction, lawyer Eberhardvan der Laan, also a prominent member of
the City Council, together with the Felix Rottenberg, the former  National
Chairman of the Labour Party  alledgedly had to convince to come and live
in Amsterdam.Historically, Amsterdam and the House of Orange ( The Royal
Family) never have been the best of friends, although there is talk that
once Mr Patijn was the young suitor of HM Queen Beatrix. They certainly
have had a  dance or two.Thinking of that, it is said that during WW2 HM
Queen Wilhelmina prayed for the Germans to bomb the Royal Palace on the
Damsquare, the former City Hall dating from 1665, in function as a City
Hall till 1808. It is still there. Unfortunatly for him, the last two weeks
Mr Patijn's unpopularity has increased because of the new streetrules and
regulations imposed on the festivities on Queensday ( the celebration of
the former Queen's birthday) April th 30th and on Liberation Day, May th
5th. Up to this year, these celebrations inclided festivities that began on
the night of the 29th of April  and went on till late in the night on April
the 30th. On both days there was a free market. This year, the celebrations
of Queensday were limited tothe day, from   0700 am till 20.00 pm . Also
tough restrictions have been placed on the selling of food by
These are delicate subjects in Amsterdam. It is important to remember  that
Amsterdam has been a city  since the c. 1300. Altough  it became a city
much later than i.e. Leiden, famous for  it's old University, Amsterdam has
always been set apart from the rest of the country. The Amsterdam need for
independence of government interference till this day is apparent,
espacially  when regents from the central goverment  are imposed in its
Signs of discontent are beginning to show up. On May the 9th, a
demonstration was held against the EMU on the Damsquare.  An alternative
summit is being organized by  homosexaul and lesbian rights activists,
human right activists , squatters  and the Autolozen, an car -free group
already famous in Amsterdam fot it's streetraves.   In the past few months,
much action has been taken against squatters. They have been evicted from
buildings. Amsterdam could see riots as it did in 1966 with the marriage of
then Princes Beatrix and German Prince Claus Von Lippe Biesterfeld.
Seventeen years ago, terrible riots occured during the coronation of HRH
Beatrix, on Queensday. Amsterdam saw horrendous fights, a completely
disorganized policeforce attacked demonstrators vividly, and vice versa.
The question is: will Amsterdam be ready this time?

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