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Europe

European Press Review: Annan's Remarks on Iraq

European editorials reacted to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s remarks that US-led invasion of Iraq was illegal and discussed how likely it is that elections will be held as scheduled.

The UN Secretary General, who has a reputation for being cautious, came out to say he thinks it unlikely elections will be held in Iraq in January as planned, which the Spanish paper, El Pais called very unsurprising. The abduction of two Americans and a Briton in one of Baghdad’s affluent quarters, the previous kidnapping of around 100 foreigners, including two Italian aid workers and two French journalists, along with a rise in violence confirm that skepticism is justified, the paper wrote.

Kidnapping journalists has become an effective strategy, commented France's Le Figaro. The terrorists only aim , the daily opined, is to plunge the country into chaos. Terrorist leaders apparently see hunting down foreigners as the first step in achieving this goal, the daily added.

Annan's comment put the future of the United Nations at risk, the Danish paper Jyllands Posten in Arhus criticized. Opening up the debate at this point in time was reckless and would be like pouring fuel on an already raging fire in Iraq, the paper argued. Annan's remarks could even be interpreted as a conscious attempt to meddle in the US presidential elections in November, the paper speculated.

The Austrian paper Die Presse in Vienna, painted a graphic picture of the current situation in Iraq. Death, bloodshed, pain, loss, mourning and tears are part of the everyday life for those in the towns of Mosul, Baghdad or Fallujah, the paper pointed out. Not a day passes in Iraq without a new kidnapping, beheading, civilian causalities and attacks against insurgents. It's a far cry from the peaceful Iraq the US government promised a year and half ago, instead there are rebel insurgencies and an increase of violence the paper concluded.