European editorialists weighed in on the challenges facing Greece's newly-elected government on Tuesday, from the upcoming Olympic Games to the reunification of Cyprus.
Some good news for once, wrote Germany's Handelsblatt. Iraq now has its own constitution, more or less on the first anniversary of the start of the war. This is a welcome, visible step on the road to sovereignty and democracy. It is something upon which Iraq can build, and from which it can draw strength. Every new component that is added to the new order makes it more difficult for terrorists to turn the clock back.
The Süddeutsche Zeitung from Munich said Iraq now has a basic law that guarantees the individual citizen freedom of expression and protection from tyranny for the first time in decades. But that does not automatically mean a peaceful future. The long term objective of any Iraqi government must be to rid the country of the occupiers. The Americans may be able to retrench themselves in the military bases, but their troubles will only be over once they have left the country. The Iraqis, as history has shown, have stamina.
The French paper Libération said it is difficult to criticize America's objectives in Iraq. American promises of long term financial engagement in the country can't be dismissed lightly, but the Bush administration is clumsy and easily causes offense. George Bush presented his plan for the modernization of the Islamic world to a think-tank full of hawks, the American Enterprise Institute. Bush's advisors suggested a parallel with American policy towards the old Soviet Union within the framework of the Helsinki process, but the comparison between Islam and communism has not met with universal approval.
The Financial Times focused on Sunday's elections in Greece, which ended in triumph for the Conservatives under Costas Karamanlis. The London paper claimed that the untested 48-year-old New Democracy leader will need all the authority he can muster to confront the challenges -- restoring fiscal discipline, peace-making in Cyprus and organising this summer's Olympic Games -- crowding in on him.
Another British paper, the Guardian, wrote that the crushing defeat of the Socialists was an indication of the swing to the right across Europe. Socialist candidate George Papandreou tried to do too much too quickly and his campaign confused voters as much as it refreshed them. A period in opposition might do the Socialist party good and might eventually produce a statesman of European status.
The Italian paper
La Repubblica told its readers that fear of disastrous Olympic Games and the shabby condition of the Socialist party helped Karamanlis to win this election. He has a stable majority, but it is far from certain whether he will be able to serve his full term. The election of a new president next year could lead to early elections. The paper also said that Cyprus remains a major problem. If agreement over reunification of the island hasn't been reached by March 22, it won't be possible to meet the deadlines for the Cyprus' accession to the European Union.