KOBLENZ — “If you don’t do as I say, we will be forced to bring you to this press conference!”
This unequivocal threat was made by one of the guards at a large conference of the extreme right in Koblenz.
On the lapel of his pin the “Alternative for Germany”. The guard has a lot of work to do: he had to force journalists to adhere to new rules imposed by the party.
“Freedom for Europe”
Our so-called “crime” is that we talk with conference participants. Because the organizers don’t like it.
All those whom we ask, in contrast, is willing to give us an interview and talk about how important this is to them: to come to the meeting with the extreme right in Europe, a meeting contributing to the increase of consciousness and the strengthening of faith.
When it became known that Frauke Petry and the company has invited marine Le Pen from France, Geert Wilders from the Netherlands and several like-minded people on the big European meeting this January Saturday, the tickets were sold out in record time.
Here the father and the son. They came here by train all the way from Hannover, they consider this event one of the most significant that they will experience in 2017.
“What’s going on here, true salvation for Europe”, they say.
Europe, which, in their opinion, now so threatened by immigrants, that she is almost standing on her knees.
“Freedom Europe” was the title of the conference organizers. But it soon becomes clear that for journalists, this freedom does not apply.
“Did you not hear me? With participants, you cannot talk”.
Snapper-a security guard comes up to us again.
“But why? We also need to talk with someone who wants to talk to us. And at the conference on a break now, so we’re not hurting anybody”, — I say irritably.
I get no response. The guard rushes to the Dutch TV crew that violated the same “rule” that we do.
In other words, they are also doing their job. Talk to people.
I can’t stop smiling: how absurd a situation in which I appeared in Europe for the first time.
The biggest irony is that the party claims, on behalf of most people, and yet, she doesn’t want the majority of the people said.
Why are they so afraid of?
What are they actually afraid of? Someone among them will say what should not say? And that they will be perceived as representatives of the party? Some of those we met, loyal supporters of the PEGIDA. Maybe that’s the reason?
Bole 80% of supporters of PEGIDA said in may, when elections were held in the Federal States that will vote for the “Alternative for Germany”, but maybe the opposite side is not responding it is the same great affection. In any case, not officially, obviously for strategic reasons.
“Hush! Let me give you interview there, far away,” says the man in the hat, glasses, and dapper moustache twisted.
“Then he won’t notice us. I really want to talk to you”.
He came from the Rhineland-Palatinate, just where Lorelei rock. I, in turn, can tell him that the song of the Lorelei was one of the first tasks I learned in the eighth grade when I started to learn German, we, the Duo execute a short verse from the song of the virgin-the enchantress, which ruined a lot of the captains of the boats sailing on the river when combing her long Golden hair. The atmosphere becomes even better, but much much better.
That is, until the guard comes again, we are not interrupted.
But until he came up to us, in any case, it is possible to record something on tape.
My duet partner says he’s happy to tell me that he hopes is now Europe will follow in the same direction as US. Before trump was sworn in as President, and the conference participants feel a special inspiration.
“What do you think about the fact that we are not allowed to speak to you, those gathered here?” — I ask the question. Answer I was not fated to hear, because we were again chased.
This complicates the work
Nothing bol wild I never saw my German photographer. This is impossible to see any other logic other than this: they want to try to hamper the work of the press to the maximum.
The photographer I have been up since five o’clock in the morning. The fact that it is five o’clock he, like all the other people with cameras — was to appear with his telechargemen to dogs trained to find bombs, able to sniff.
Given that the conference began at ten o’clock, it was difficult to understand why all the cameras had to be checked at five in the morning. We’ve been to many meetings at the highest level in Europe, but even in meetings “the big seven” this was not.
Of course, security measures are serious, but why at five in the morning? We never found out why, the only thing we were told: if you are not satisfied with something about the conference you can forget.
Well, anyway, we were allowed to attend the conference. But in order to be able to be accredited had to sign a paper in which was written that we can out of the room at any time without explanation.
This is also the rules of the game that we previously never knew.
But many German counterparts, by contrast, was denied accreditation. One of them we meet behind the fence. He works for a TV company ARD and belongs to the same group of German journalists, which “Alternative for Germany” chat dislikes.
“Clearly, this complicates our work, but we need to talk about how they are treating us and how they all relate to critical journalism,” he says.
At the conference, meanwhile, the husband of party leader Frauke Petry, Marcus Prötzel, delivers an incendiary speech — first at the event.
The man who in the last three years represents the party in the European Parliament, begins his speech by ridiculing a particular journalist from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
The journalist, whom he clearly loves and who has not obtained accreditation for the event.
“He likes ADG, says Prötzel with irony. — I did everything to get here”.
Colleagues like what they hear. In the hall there is a delight. This is reminiscent of an American election event. Something not quite German.
I’m trying to see a cheering crowd of those with whom I just spoke, but from the rostrum, which placed journalists in the dark to see something difficult.
Is there some kind of party that could speak from the podium something like that? How hall would react if the Christian Democrats or the social Democrats started their activities, publicly bragging about the fact that there were journalists who were not allowed?
Or if you translate it into Norwegian soil. How would have reacted in Norway, if any Norwegian party allowed themselves to something like that? Although, in truth, even among some Norwegian politicians there was a fashion to call something they don’t agree, “fake news”.
And from here to the enthusiasm about avoiding the press at the event close. Maybe that’s the next step?
It was here, in Germany, it all started with the fact that the supporters of this party a couple of years ago began to call the ENTIRE traditional press “lying press.”
“We — the new Europe!” — shouting from the stage.
The audience responds with joy that has no end.
After the material and direct report commissioned for the evening edition Dagsrevyen, we, together with colleagues from Switzerland, France and Germany have dinner in the pub in the old town.
ALL day left the same impression that I do. And everyone is asking themselves the question: is this the new Europe? Do journalists in Europe in the future will have to work in such conditions?
Because it turns out pretty quickly that what happened, the case is not isolated.
In a week during the Congress of ADH in Saxony, one editor asked from the audience after most of the 320 delegates voted for it.
And last week appeared the video, which shows, as a journalist physically thrown out of the hall, when he tries to ask marine Le Pen critical question of abuse of EU funds.
Still we had to deal with whole armies of advisers of public relations, which produce vague answers for those whom they represent, when it comes to critical issues. But to throw out someone from the audience physically, to avoid accountability, is a completely new tactic. Anyway, in the recent history of Europe.
Nothing to lose
And it’s not like politicians, making the press in a similar way, something to lose in the eyes of their constituents. On the contrary.
In all likelihood, marine Le Pen will reach the last round of presidential elections in France in may.
It looks like Geert Wilders in the parliamentary elections in March will lead the largest party in the Netherlands.
And the “Alternative for Germany” is now the third largest party in the country, in all probability, it will be held in the Reichstag after elections in September.
It turns out that parties who themselves want to gain a position through democratic elections, its own, very special way of interpretation of the democratic rules of the game.
And if this trend continues, then within this year, we learn more about them new.