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Europe

Debating Iraq's Future

Postwar order in Iraq, the EU's expansion summit in Athens and the debate over Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's calls for serious reforms to the country's social insurance system dominate Germany's editorial pages.

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In an editorial on the current situation in Iraq, Berlin's Tagesspiegel writes: The dictatorship of Saddam Hussein has collapsed, but few are celebrating. And who knows whether this will present a positive opportunity for the region, like that which was offered to Europe in 1989 (with the collapse of the iron curtain and the subsequent fall of communism in Eastern Europe). No one can say whether it will lead to greater stability or if it will merely result in chaos.

The Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten , meanwhile, argues that the reason America's plans for postwar order in Iraq have come up against stiff resistance can be found in the message of the approximately 20,000 Shiites who recently protested in the city of Nasiriya: "Yes to Islam, no to Saddam, but also no to America." It's clear, the paper writes, that whoever is going to fill the vacuum of power in Iraq will need to win over the hearts and minds of the Shiites.

On its editorial page, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung comments on the message of a meeting in Cairo between Jordan's King Abdullah and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak , who have called for an "authentic" Iraqi administration. But the very first postwar conference of Iraqi groups in Ur, near Nasiriya, shows just how difficult that will be. The fact that America has assumed control, the paper writes, is holding back the process. A major Shiite group chose to boycott the meeting, and the head of the Iraqi National Congress, Ahmed Chalabi, chose not to attend the event. With so many divisions within Iraq, the paper suggests, it will be a long time before the country truly belongs to the Iraqi people.

Several German dailies also comment on the confidence expressed by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder that disaffected colleagues in his party will eventually support the controversial and deep social insurance reforms he is proposing.

The Stuttgarter Zeitung suggests the chancellor has shown courage and that his party, the Social Democrats, weren’t prepared for such a show of strength. Schröder has never, until now, led a serious debate within his party about social democratic principles in a time of globalization, shrinking growth, an ailing social welfare system and a snowballing public deficit.

That may be, but the Saarbrücker Zeitung asks: What if the economy continues to slide? Do the Chancellor’s party colleagues seriously believe they'll be able to solve the country's problems with a watered-down strategy? Chancellor Schröder is going to have to face a test of strength, the paper suggests. And if he chooses to fight, he'll probably survive -- because the party needs him as much as he needs it.

Potsdam's Märkische Allgemeine notes there are still some in the SPD's left wing who are prepared to oppose the chancellor's pragmatism. They may have waited until late in the game, but now that they have registered their opposition, the paper says, they're making life more difficult for Schröder. Under his leadership, the Social Democrats have let their principles slip, the paper argues. Now there's only one way out of the dilemma -- and painful as it may be, the chancellor has to make it clear to his party that there's no alternative but the difficult reforms he has endorsed. Finally, Berlin's Tagesspiegel comments on the addition of 10 new countries to the European Union. Fourteen years after the celebrated collapse of communism, the paper writes, Europe is forming a new, stable order. But it's not perfect. Almost every issue is contested -- from milk quotas to the transatlantic relationship. The paper suggests union won't make negotiations any easier between the 25 EU states. Still, a Europe of democracy and peace is preferable to that which existed before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the paper concludes.

  • Date 17.04.2003
  • Author Marion MacGregor
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  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/3V0V
  • Date 17.04.2003
  • Author Marion MacGregor
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/3V0V