Italy suspends Schengen Agreement June 18 to July 15 for G8 meet

June 12, 2009 12:06 pm 

MANILA, June 12 — Italy will suspend what is known as the Schengen Agreement for the period from June 18 to July 15 in anticipation of possible violence connected with the upcoming Group of Eight (G8) meeting from July 8 to 10 in the Italian city of L'Aquila.

During the period, police control will be implemented in the borders that Italy shares with other Schengen countries, among the 25 European nations that permit passport-free travel for their nationals. Filipinos wanting to visit any of these 25 countries must have Schengen visas.

In the past, violence followed anti-G8 demonstrations staged by persons whose entry to venue sites were made easy with Schengen visas.

Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni earlier told Italian television that suspending the Schengen accord is "not (meant) to prevent demonstrations, but to block the arrival of those violent people who would like to come to Italy to hit policemen and crack people's skulls," the Philippine embassy in Rome relayed to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Maroni added that the Italian government had already warned European Union member countries of the plans to suspend the accord. He stressed that the suspension is in keeping with general EU practice for the G8 and other important events. Italy also suspended the agreement in 2001 during the G8 meeting in Genoa.

G8 groups the the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Japan.

In the past, Schengen countries have suspended the accord for various reasons. France had suspended the agreement five times since 1995 as a measure against terrorism, while Belgium did so during the European Football Championship as a control against hooliganism. Spain also suspended the accord in May 2004 as a security measure for the wedding of Prince Felipe. (PNA)

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