On Thursday evening, the Minister Presidents of the German federal states came to Bad Godesberg at the invitation of NRW Minister President Armin Laschet. Whilst a café provided sustenance for the police officers, signs about removals caused confusion.
Blocked off streets and squares, limousine convoys and police motorbikes - on Thursday evening the old capital city feeling had returned to Bad Godesberg for a short time. At the Redoute, to be precise. According to a spokesperson from the State Chancellery in Düsseldorf, Minister President Armin Laschet (CDU) had invited guests to a dinner at the Redoute as part of the annual conference of the heads of the state governments held on the Petersberg. According to protocol, the dinner is part of the official programme and therefore not usually open to the media, which is why nothing had been leaked about the reception in advance.
Crowned heads, presidents and high-ranking politicians were repeatedly received at the Redoute back in the days when Bonn was the capital city.
Police closed roads around the Redoute
It wasn’t until Thursday afternoon that it became clear there would be an event in Bad Godesberg on the programme of the Minister Presidents' Conference, when increased numbers of police officers from a special detachment patrolled the area around the Redoute.
At around 6.30 p.m., the police closed Brunnenallee, Straße Am Kurpark, Schwertberger Straße and Junkerstraße so that the convoys of ministers could proceed unhindered to the rear part of the Redoute facing the Redoute Kurpark. There, on a red carpet, Minister President Laschet and his wife Susanne were awaiting his counterparts from the federal states, some of whom came to Bad Godesberg with their partners. The Redoute was illuminated with the North Rhine-Westphalian state colours. Parts of the Redoutenpark were also brightly lit.
Laschet presented with a bell at the Redoute
In the halls, exchanges between the politicians and their delegations were overlooked by a large, white Beethoven statue. Berlin's Governing Mayor Michael Müller (SPD) handed over the ‘baton’ for the chairmanship of the Minister Presidents' Conference to Armin Laschet. Although it is not actually a baton, but a bell. It was donated in 1997 by the then Minister President of Thuringia, Bernhard Vogel, and has been symbolically passed on since then.
Laschet presented Müller with a boccia set. Inside the lid there is a photograph of Konrad Adenauer, who was a passionate boccia player. The Golden Guest Book of North Rhine-Westphalia was also on display at the Redoute, where it was signed by the Minister Presidents. Several tables were set for the ceremonial meal. The state leaders took their seats at a long table.
Political visit unknown to Bad Godesbergers
The people of Bad Godesberg were unaware of all of this. The large police operation in front of the Redoute did not go unnoticed, however. Patrols were constantly driving through the city, police vehicles were parked along busy roads and there was a very high level of police and security presence at the Redoute.
Metin Kocatepe and his Bonnerie team also had a lot to do. The café is directly opposite the Redoute and was used by the police for catering. Kocatepe received a request to host the police almost a fortnight ago. “We therefore closed for the evening and catered for the police force,” said the restaurateur. Police cars and motorbikes were parked in front of his café.
Police officers sat at the tables during their break while the ministers were in the Redoute. The buffet for the officers was sumptuous - Kocatepe and his team served a buffet tower with a wide variety of delicacies - usually only available at family celebrations. “It was really an exciting evening that was a lot of fun,” says the restaurateur. He did not see any of the politicians, he said. But his family went outside when the convoys arrived.
Signs announce move instead of event
The Kurfürstenallee remained blocked off by the police throughout the event at the Redoute. The two large car parks were also closed to make room for the police vehicles and the guests’ limousines to park there. However, the closure signs raised questions. Because these indicated a move. ‘Move on Thursday 21/10/2021 from 7am to 10pm. Please keep clear!’ read the signs. “The Redoute applied for permission to close off the car park.
Approval was granted by the city as the road traffic authority,” explained Marc Hoffmann from the city's press office. Such closures are not uncommon for safety reasons. “The city authorities cannot say why removal signs were allegedly used. The organiser and applicant for the permit is responsible for borrowing and setting up the signs himself,” continued Hoffmann.
Rhineland solution works
Thomas Düren from Spedition Düren can answer this question, however, because the signs came from him. “As we usually do this kind of things for removals, we used the same form here out of habit,” he explains. In addition, experience has shown that the affected drivers are generally more accepting and more likely to observe the parking restrictions when there are signs indicating a move rather than an event, Düren continued.
A Rhineland solution that has shown Bonn is still capable of performing capital city duties.
(Original text: Maximilian Mühlens, Translation: Caroline Kusch)