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Spain postpones EU meeting for fear of street protests

dpa German Press Agency
Published: Tuesday October 10, 2006

Madrid- Spain has cancelled a European Union ministerial meeting planned for Barcelona on October 16-17 for fear of violent street protests, Spain's Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said Tuesday. According to Rubalcaba, the government decided to postpone the meeting of EU housing ministers on police advice. Several militant anti-establishment groups had threatened street protests during the meeting.

Police also spoke of a heightened atmosphere of tension due to the ongoing campaign ahead of regional elections in Catalonia scheduled for November 1.

Last week, activists for squatters rights rioted against construction plans in the old city of Barcelona, causing extensive damage.

"We are not afraid of the rioters," said a high-ranking police official. "But we don't want to help give violent demonstrators undeserved publicity."

The police accept that the squatters could celebrate the cancellation of the ministerial meeting as a victory, the official said, adding that this was "the lesser evil."

No new date for the conference was set. The informal meeting was scheduled to discuss house construction and urban planning.

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency