European Press: A New Beginning | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 23.02.2005
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European Press: A New Beginning

As US President George W. Bush began the third day of his European tour, Europe's newspapers debated whether the visit signals the beginning of a new era in the transatlantic relationship.


The presidents of the US and the EU: Competitors and partners?

Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung commented that the NATO summit attended by President Bush in Brussels could see the beginning of a new transatlantic relationship in which the EU and US are "competitors" as well as partners. It said that it's time to put an end to what it described as US attempts to divide Europe, as well as the "French-inspired temptation to use the power of a united Europe as a force against America, and in that way, to gain a European identity." "Both a policy of division and an anti-American formation of a counter-power are misguided," the paper wrote.

The Czech Republic's business daily Hospodarske Noviny, took a similar view. It wrote that Bush has come to Europe riding high on the recent elections in the Palestinian territories and Iraq. "It is a credit to the US president that in the role of the victor, he decided to act graciously," the paper commented, adding that Europe should avoid trying to unite in opposition to the US.

The French paper Le Monde predicted that the summit "will allow George Bush to claim a double diplomatic success." It wrote that all NATO members will contribute in some way to the training of Iraqi troops and police. In addition, the alliance will expand its role in Afghanistan, which will "eventually allow Mr. Bush to announce to his countrymen that it is NATO and no longer the US troops which are carrying out most of the efforts to stabilize the country." The paper noted that the US spared no effort to get such a result.

In Ukraine, papers focused on discussions among NATO leaders and the country's recently elected President Viktor Yushchenko. Den regarded the promises of helping Ukraine achieve NATO and EU membership with skepticism, commenting that similar promises had been made before. "Kiev received a clear message -- keep working and we'll talk about taking relations to a new level later," the paper wrote.

The German Westdeutsche Zeitung from Düsseldorf was scornful of attempts to paint a rosy picture of a new and improved transatlantic relationship. "It was American arrogance that poisoned the relationship in recent years," the paper wrote. "And it's the American dilemma in Iraq that explains why the US government has changed its mind about the necessity of a dialog." The paper commented that, as pleasant as it is to see the allies being so polite to each other, the basic differences of opinion from the political middle haven't changed.

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