European Press Review: A Mixed-Up World | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 17.03.2004
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European Press Review: A Mixed-Up World

European editorials on Wednesday again focussed on reactions to the Madrid bombings and speculation as to how to combat terrorism on the eve of the first anniversary of the Iraq war.

The war in Iraq was supposed to have inflicted a permanent blow to terrorism wrote Le Monde in Paris: Yes, it undoubtedly frightened the regimes that were willing supporters of terrorism and it probably convinced countries such as Syria and Libya to give up their aspirations to attain weapons of mass destruction. At the same time, the paper pointed out, the intervention in Iraq has motivated terror cells who want to drive the Americans out of Arab

countries and to punish America’s helpers. The bombings in Madrid cost the Spanish conservatives the election, but who knows if the war hasn’t distracted the world from its main objective: namely combatting Islamic terrorism, remarked the daily.

The Spanish conservatives may have lost the election, but Madrid’s El País believed that the new socialist government must take action immediately. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero can’t take the 100 days granted him to form a new government. Critical decisions must be made. In Great Britain, José Maria Aznar would already have packed his things and Zapatero would have taken over. This is one of the disadvantages of the tedious Spanish political system, concluded the Spanish daily.

"It’s a mixed-up world," the German paper Die Welt started its editorial: Germany’s Defense Minister asks the new Spanish government indirectly to stay in Iraq. On the other hand, the Bush administration is making the effort to present a new resolution to the United Nations Security Council. The paper assesses that with José Maria Aznar’s departure the position of Europe is being unified and the Europeans and Americans re-united. New Prime Minister Zapatero and the Spanish Socialists are fighting yesterday’s fight, namely opposing the

Iraq war. Zapatero promised before the election to fight terror, now it is time for Europeans and Americans to help him do this, concluded the paper.

Austria’s Der Standard was critical of Europe’s politicians. After the attacks in Madrid, politicians all over Europe are saying security measures are being tightened. This is a standard sentence after every terrorist attack. However, when the media turns its attention to other topics, will security be loosened, the Vienna paper asked. The security policies in the EU are mostly propaganda on the one hand. On the other hand, modern terror cannot be conquered alone with military means. It can be slowed, but not eliminated, wrote the daily.

The Times of London picked up on the comment of the London police chief, John Stevens, that a terrorist attack in Great Britain is inevitable. Stevens, the British government and security services all believe that vigilance is the best weapon against Al Qaeda. The paper remarked that Europe doesn’t need more experts. Good security depends first and foremost on the work of the intelligence services: Agents in the field, people who can infiltrate and

report back are the main supports. Effective coordination of the data of European intelligence is vital, wrote the paper.