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Europe

European Press Review: A Controversial Candidate

European newspapers Tuesday focused on the EU's decision to lift sanctions on Libya, the rejection of Italian Buttiglione as EU Justice Commissioner and planned elections for Iraq.

Commenting on the European Union’s decision to lift sanctions and the arms embargo against Libya, Germany's Badische Neueste Nachrichten in Karlsruhe accused the EU of double standards. It recalled that a large majority of the bloc’s 25 member-states - including Germany – are refusing to lift the weapons embargo against China because of that country’s unsatisfactory human rights record. That’s a good thing, the paper wrote, but added that one must be rather naive to think that human rights in Libya are being respected.

The Guardian in London wrote that after 11 years, the sanctions on Libya had run their course, while the new batch on Burma are designed to pressurize the military regime to ease up on human rights. The Libya sanctions isolated the country and pressurized Colonel Moammar Gadhafi into reducing his involvement with terrorism, it wrote. But, the paper commented, that political will of this kind is lacking in Burma. It wrote that the Asian country should be a soft target since few outsiders have a stake in its economy. Nonetheless, it pointed out, France has negotiated loopholes which allow it to continue investing in the oil industry. The paper concluded that even unsatisfactory sanctions are preferable to war.

Other European papers turned to the rejection by a European Parliamentary committee of Italy’s nominee for the post of EU justice commissioner. The Civil Liberties Committee narrowly rejected Rocco Buttiglione, a conservative Roman Catholic who told an EU hearing last week he believed homosexuality was a sin.

Italian paper Il Messaggero wrote that Buttiglione’s convictions about homosexuality and the role of women in marriage are absolutely fine for a Catholic, but that the determination he showed when stating his belief came across to the parliamentary commission as a challenge to contradict him. The paper noted that this reflects the ongoing tensions within the EU. It opined that Buttiglione is paying for the opposition of some European leftists to the government of Silvio Berlusconi. Buttiglione missing out on the job reveals that last summer’s clash between Berlusconi and German EU delegate Martin Schultz at the start of Italy’s unfortunate presidency of the EU has not been forgotten, wrote the daily.

Belgium's De Standaard however wrote that Buttiglione was a controversial candidate right from the start because of his conservative Catholic views. The paper pointed out that while Buttiglione clearly stated that as a politician he would fight to end discrimination against gays, as a Catholic he reserved the right to regard homosexuality as a sin. It was this statement in particular, the paper wrote, that the parliamentary committee held against him.

Dutch broadsheet De Telegraaf commented on discussions centered on postponing the Iraqi elections in January. The Dutch paper said a delay was not an option despite the ongoing violence there. It wrote that that would be a victory for the insurgents, who follow their own interests and are not concerned with the interests of the people or a developing and flourishing Iraq. The elections give the Americans the opportunity to withdraw, the paper wrote and added that if there’s one thing that Iraqis are united on, it’s this – that the liberators, who turned so swiftly into occupiers, should leave their country.

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