German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has lashed out at Chancellor Angela Merkel over the G20 riots, accusing her fellow Christian Democratic Union (CDU) politicians of “passing the buck” by calling on Hamburg’s mayor to resign.
Following the reaction to the violent scenes in Hamburg during the July 7-8 G20 summit, Gabriel, of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) accused Merkel’s party of unfairly targeting Hamburg Mayor Olaf Scholz, also a Social Democrat.
Hamburg CDU politicians "who are calling on [Scholz] to resign... must also demand the resignation of Angela Merkel," Gabriel said Tuesday, noting that Merkel is the one who chose Hamburg, her birthplace, as the site for the summit.
"In the election year 2017, Chancellor Angela Merkel wanted to use the G20 summit in her hometown of Hamburg to burnish her image with attractive pictures," Gabriel told Funke newspaper group, as quoted by AFP.
He went on to accuse the "two-faced" CDU of "buck-passing," adding that the G20 summit was a "total failure" when it came to finding answers to "humanity's big questions."
"This current crusade of the CDU/CSU against the SPD could poison the political culture for many years," he said.
Some members of Merkel's CDU party suggested Monday that Scholz should resign from his position as mayor for failing to stem the violence during the G20 summit.
The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party also joined calls for his resignation.
Scholz has said he will not resign, but has apologized for what happened in the city during the gathering of world leaders.
"Not everything happened as we had hoped," Scholz told the Hamburg City Council on Wednesday, as quoted by Deutsche Welle. "I am happy that nobody was killed."
The mayor admitted that it was his duty to protect the safety and well-being of Hamburg's citizens, adding that the city's protocols ahead of the summit were lacking.
Scholtz also admitted to underestimating disruptions caused to roads and traffic, adding that he could "perfectly understand the anger felt by those who found themselves stranded in the city for hours on end."
The G20 riots saw protesters battling police, torching cars and looting shops. Some threw rocks from rooftops and set up burning street barricades, gaining control of one Hamburg district for several hours on Friday, before police moved in.
A total of 476 officers were injured in the violence, while more than 200 demonstrators received treatment in local hospitals.
Others received on-site care from volunteer medics after inhaling tear gas and pepper spray, or being hit with police batons.