German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle criticized the city of Berlin over security measures for diplomatic missions after protesters stormed the grounds of the Iranian embassy in the German capital.
Westerwelle sent a letter to Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit condemning the police’s inability to prevent the “massive attack” on the embassy. Two days ago, about 30 protesters scaled the mission’s security fence, tore down and burned the Iranian flag, threw paint balls and stones at the building and destroyed the property’s outside lighting, police said.
“I call on you immediately to undertake all possible measures with Berlin’s security authorities so similar attacks against foreign missions can be prevented,” Westerwelle wrote in the letter, provided by e-mail by the Foreign Ministry.
The trespassers at the Iranian embassy, located in the south Berlin district of Steglitz-Zehlendorf, overwhelmed the local security detail, which called for backup and eventually apprehended 12 people, the Berlin police said in their report.
The group, which didn’t enter the embassy building, protested the Iranian government’s “authoritarian policy” as well as asylum rules, police said. Two Iranian nationals among those captured remain in custody because they’re in Germany illegally. The rest were released, police said.
Bernd Kroemer, a deputy interior minister for Berlin, said the criticism was excessive, the Berliner Zeitung reported. The German capital is “well positioned” to provide security for diplomatic missions, he said, according to the newspaper. Wowereit’s chief spokesman, Richard Meng, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Westerwelle discussed the matter by phone with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi, according to Andreas Peschke, a German Foreign Ministry spokesman. Salehi asked the German government to investigate the incident and punish those involved, state-run Mehr news agency reported yesterday.
Westerwelle cited 13 incidents of embassies in Berlin being stormed or occupied in the last two years, including incidents at the Nigerian embassy in October and the Libyan embassy this month. Berlin’s security measures for diplomatic missions “definitely have to change,” the minister said.