MUNICH (AP) - About 4,000 protesters gathered in Munich as the Group of Seven leading economic powers prepared Saturday to hold their annual gathering in the Bavarian Alps in Germany, which holds the G-7's rotating presidency this year.
Organizers had hoped to mobilize up to 20,000 protesters in the Bavarian city and were disappointed by the low turnout at Munich's Theresienwiese park, German news agency dpa reported.
Uwe Hiksch, one of the protest organizers, theorized said that potential participants might consider it inappropriate to challenge the world's wealthiest democracies during Russia's war in Ukraine.
“We have the impression that many people are unsettled by the war in Ukraine,” Hiksch told dpa.
Seven years ago, 35,000 people participated in protests when the G-7 held a summit at the same site in Bavaria.
The G-7 leaders - from the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan - are expected to start arriving in Germany on Saturday afternoon. Their summit agenda includes issues such as Russia's war on Ukraine, climate change, energy and a looming food security crisis.
“Russia's brutal war against Ukraine is also having an impact here,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a video podcast Saturday, referring to rising prices for groceries, gas and energy.
Fifteen groups critical of globalization, from the international Attac network to the environmental organization WWF, called on people to participate in demonstrations for this weekend's summit.
Their demands included a phase-out of fossil fuels, the preservation of animal and plant diversity, social justice and a stepped-up fight against hunger.
“My demands for the G-7 are that they have a clear commitment to energy transition, that is, the exit from fossil fuels, all forms of fossil fuels, by 2035 at the latest, so we can stop financing wars and conflicts,” said Kilian Wolter from the environmental group Greenpeace.
Earlier Saturday, during a separate protest demanding more global equality.members of the antipoverty organization Oxfam wore oversized heads of the G-7 leaders.
“We need concrete action to cope with multiple crises of our times,” Oxfam spokesperson Tobias Hauschild told The Associated Press. “That means the G-7 have to act immediately. They have to fight hunger, inequality and poverty.”
A total of around 18,000 police officers are deployed around the summit site and the protests.
Scholz said the G-7 leaders would discuss the current situation triggered by the war in Ukraine “and at the same time ensure that we stop manmade climate change.”
The chancellor was set to welcome the leaders at the Elmau resort near Garmisch-Partenkirchen on Saturday evening.
The G-7 summit itself will take place in Bavaria's Elmau from Sunday through Tuesday. After the meeting concludes, leaders of the 30 countries in the NATO alliance will then gather for their annual summit, which is being held Wednesday through Thursday in Madrid.
Grieshaber reported from Berlin, Philipp Jenne and Pietro De Cristofaro contributed from Munich.