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Germany’s Merkel doesn’t mention Trump ahead of G20, but calls ‘isolationism and protectionism ... delusional’

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On Thursday, police visited the U.S. consulate in Hamburg, where preparations are under way for the G20 summit.
(Bodo Marks / AFP/Getty Images)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is not ordinarily known for emotional rhetoric.

But in what started out as a routine address to the parliament Thursday previewing next weekend’s summit of leaders from the world’s 20 largest economies, Europe’s most important leader turned uncharacteristically dark in condemning some of the views that have found popular support in the U.S. and elsewhere.

“Anyone who thinks the world’s problems can be solved with isolationism and protectionism is simply delusional,” Merkel said. “The only way we’re going to succeed in finding the right answers to the central questions of our age is by working together.”

The G-20 summit, scheduled for July 7 and 8 in Hamburg, could prove turbulent, with massive anti-globalization demonstrations planned as President Trump and other world leaders discuss issues including trade, climate change and migration.

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More than 20,000 police will be on hand, because German authorities are expecting as many as 150,000 people from across Europe to fill the streets on the second day for a protest called “G20 Not Welcome Here.”

Police are expecting 8,000 anarchists for another demonstration, on the eve of the summit, called “Welcome to Hell.”

The presence of Trump, who is deeply unpopular in Europe, as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose policies are viewed with suspicion, also worried authorities charged with crowd control.

The German government on Thursday rejected a request by Erdogan to speak at a rally of ethnic Turks living in Germany outside the summit.

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Merkel told the parliament that she expected the talks in Hamburg to be “difficult.”

Since last year’s summit in Hangzhou, China, she said, major gulfs had opened between once-close allies, such as the United States and the major economies of the European Union that make up the core of the G20.

“The world has become troubled and divided,” she said. “The differences are obvious and it would be dishonest to try to cover that up — I won’t be doing that.”

She promised in particular to stand up for the Paris climate agreement, which suffered a severe blow this month when Trump announced that the U.S. was pulling out.

“Ever since the decision by the United States to leave the Paris climate agreement, we’ve become more determined than ever to make it a success,” Merkel said. “We’ve got to tackle this existential threat and we can’t and won’t simply wait around until everyone on the planet has been convinced that there is enough scientific proof that it is happening. The Paris agreement is irreversible and non-negotiable.”

Merkel never spoke Trump’s name. She had tried to find ways to work with Trump but has since taken a more defiant stance against him.

A leader of Social Democratic Party, which is part of Merkel’s coalition, was less diplomatic.

“Donald Trump is dividing the Western world,” Thomas Oppermann told parliament after the chancellor finished. “On the climate issue, it’s Trump against the rest of the world. There’s got to be a 19 against 1 alliance against him in Hamburg.”

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Kirschbaum is a special correspondent.

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