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Europe

European Press Review: A Passive Population

European editorials on Thursday commented on US-led efforts to restore peace and security in Iraq, Russian president Putin’s political and security reforms and the latest UN report on urbanization and poverty.

In the context of comments by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that the US led invasion of Iraq was illegal, the Financial Times Deutschland noted that the American President George W. Bush has admitted that the US has lost control of Iraq. Not so much in words but through actions, the paper wrote. Commenting on Washington’s plans to re-allocate $3.5 billion (€4.3 billion) of reconstruction aid to security, the German business daily said this shows the reality of Iraq’s situation. Iraq is a country where people are killed on a daily basis and where terrorists repeatedly destroy basic infrastructure facilities to the point where reconstruction is no longer possible, the paper reminded its readers, adding that Iraq is no longer in the hands of the occupying forces or the interim government but in those of the insurgents.

Commenting on the latest UN report on urbanisation and poverty, Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung

wrote that the UN has failed to show progress in its goal of eliminating poverty which was set 10 years ago at a population conference in Cairo. Rising poverty and population growth in cities in countries, especially those in the south, will continue in the coming years. The daily wrote that the industrial nations have ignored these issues because they have other problems to deal with. In the north, the populations are shrinking and this raises questions such as who will pay for pensions in the future or who will be responsible for contributions to health insurance. Such issues are the worrying for those in Europe, Japan and everywhere else, concluded the paper.

The French paper Liberation said the price for urbanization and poverty is social inequalities and injustice, corruption and rising crime. All this is accelerated by economic globalization. The daily added that trying to stop this urbanization wave is pointless. What must be done is to slow down the growing numbers of people moving to the cities and to try and limit the destructive effects of this. The paper called on the world’s governments to have the political will to meet this challenge.

Taking into account criticism by US President George W. Bush of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s political and security reforms, the Swiss paper Neue Zürcher Zeitung wrote that (international) cooperation with Russia hasn’t yielded much. Instead, the regime has become more authoritarian and less democratic, the paper noted and observed that the escalating situation in Chechnya is first and foremost evidence of Russian aggression, incompetence and or neglect and will only provide the right kind of aggravated conditions for terrorists. In Austria, the Salzburger Nachrichten lamented how truth is the first to die in a war and how in Russia democracy became the first victim in its war against terrorism. It won't be long before Russia cuts itself off from the ideals of its Western counterparts, said the paper, adding that Putin’s measures which centralize power in Kremlin which in turn will directly control the country’s 89 states. The paper wrote that the failure of Russian policy in the north Caucasus is certainly not because of too much citizen participation but rather reveals how Moscow has created a passive population.