SPIEGEL's Daily Take: My President Went to Bratislava and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt
As Bush and Putin meet in Bratislava on Thursday, entrepreneurs are out in force on the capital's streets hawking summit souvenirs. With the world media's attention briefly focused on the Slovak capital, city officials are doing all they can to market it as an international hub -- they've even made special postal stamps. Bush, meanwhile, doesn't know when to take the gloves off.
Selling Slovakia: the commemorative stamp.
Summits are a time of politics, diplomacy, and, if you're a fairly small Central European state hosting world leaders, they're also a time to sell, sell, sell. While Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President George W. Bush meet in Bratislava to discuss a range of issues, hundreds of souvenirs commemorating the summit will be on sale on the city's streets, ranging from t-shirts and baseball caps to mugs and a special summit postal stamp. The mint has even created a special commemorative coin for the event. It's difficult to imagine the same thing happening in Western Europe, where such meetings are met with much less public enthusiasm (no one was sporting "Bush - Schroeder 2005" sweatshirts in Mainz, for instance). For the young country of Slovakia, though, the event is a rare chance to grab global headlines. The city's officials are hoping the intense media focus on the summit will translate into foreign interest (and investment), and the city's people are enjoying the rare moment of international attention.
George W. Bush met with Vladimir Putin on Thursday in Bratislava.
That's just the beginning. As Bush tours the city Thursday, the airspace over the city has been designated no-fly, and shipping on the Danube River has been restricted. More than 5,000 police are on hand, in addition to 400 firefighters and 400 army soldiers, and MiG jets will be patrolling the skies. About 250 police will be manning water canons during Bush's public address in Bratislava's central square, though no large-scale demonstrations have been planned. Also -- you can never be too careful -- the Slovak Spectator reports that Slovak police have a special chemical laboratory standing by, in case of a chemical weapons attack. (2:32 p.m. CET)
The gloves stay on.
Putin, Banker, Stasi, Spy
A friend from back in the day: Putin and banker Warnig got to know each other in Cold War Dresden.
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