What a difference 5 years makes. US President Barack Obama has returned to a more sober welcome in Berlin than in 2008, when as a candidate, he drew a crowd of 200,000.
The German capital rolled out the red carpet once again, but it seems it was the barriers built around it that are bothering Berliners.
One resident explained the extent to which the security is impacted the city:
“The police had to weld the drains shut. People living next to the Obama-route are not allowed to open the windows. It’s a little bit over the top.”
Tradespeople were feeling the pinch as roadblocks closed off the city.
“I feel sorry for the business people who have shops near the places Obama visits and who are not able to open their shops,” said one market stall owner.
Obama is in Berlin to make a speech at the Brandenberg Gate to call for a reduction in the stockpiling of nuclear weapons. For some residents the chance to see the US president speak has been dashed by the tight security.
“I´m very sad because of all the roadblocks. We would have loved to see him. Especially his speech at the Brandenburg Gate,” said one young Berliner.
At home and abroad security is an issue which plagues the president as his administration faces criticism over its PRISM surveillance programme. In a country which knew its own snooping scandals with the Stasi, the issue is particularly pertinent.
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