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Chicago River cruise with German, Spanish leaders just what Emanuel hoped for

VIAJE DEL PRESIDENTE DEL GOBIERNO A LA CUMBRE OTAN DE CHICAGO

VIAJE DEL PRESIDENTE DEL GOBIERNO A LA CUMBRE OTAN DE CHICAGO

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Updated: May 29, 2012 4:43PM



When German Chancellor Angela Merkel needed to meet with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to discuss his plans to revive his country’s economy, she chose to hold the meeting on an architectural cruise down the Chicago River during the NATO Summit.

A photo of the two European leaders — with Chicago’s skyline in the background — appeared in newspapers in Spain and Germany such as El Pais and Vanguardia. Television stations in those countries aired video of the two cruising past the Trump Tower and other Chicago landmarks. A Spanish comedy show even mocked up an image of the two on an inflatable raft.

The meeting and subsequent publicity was exactly what Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago tourism officials hoped would come out of the summit last week.

To complete their fantasies of a successful summit, they are now hoping any number of Spaniards and Germans will be compelled to visit the city. They hope Merkel and Rajoy and the other world leaders who came here will recommend Chicago to friends as a tourist spot. And they really dream that business owners in foreign countries will see the city as a better, cheaper, more centrally-located U.S. location to start an American branch of a business than New York.

“Some people have said to [Rajoy] that Chicago is a very cold city, but he has found it a beautiful city with very good weather and he will return to the city,” said Leonardo Marcos, a press counselor for the Spanish embassy.

Rajoy told reporters that during the cruise Merkel praised the budget-tightening measures he is pushing to save Spain’s economy.

“They very much enjoyed this unusual way of having a political meeting, a normal, bi-lateral meeting, said Klause Karlmatthiaes, a spokesman for the German Embassy.

As for the German media, “Many were in Chicago for the first time and said they would come back and do more. They were impressed by Chicago.”

Downtown restaurants and stores saw their business plummet during the NATO Summit. But some Chicago business owners said they are keeping their fingers crossed that the long-term gains Emanuel envisions will come to pass.



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