European Press Review: Approaches to Terrorism | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 14.08.2003
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European Press Review: Approaches to Terrorism

Europe's newspapers on Thursday commented on the ongoing battle against international terrorism and Germany's reform agenda.


The fate of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden remains uncertain.

The French daily Libération wrote that Osama bin Laden seems to have gained strength as U.S. President George Bush’s war on terror wanes. It's not clear to what extent bin Laden is still controlling international terrorism. But just as the war in Iraq will only really be over once we know the fate of Saddam Hussein, the war against terrorism will only be won when we know what has become of the Al Qaeda leader. Not knowing his whereabouts remains the biggest threat to the security of democratic states, the paper said.

The British paper the Daily Telegraph said the decision by British Airways to suspend flights to Saudi Arabia because of credible intelligence of a serious threat is an ominous sign of al-Qaeda's undiminished capacity to threaten Western global interests. The paper sees a dangerous potential for Islamic elements to influence the Saudi regime, and it thinks the West needs a plan for dealing not only with possible Al Qaida terrorist attacks, but also with the political structures underlying them.

Moscow's Nesawissimaja Gaseta questioned the veracity of official reports about some missiles smuggled into the United States. The paper wrote that the joint effort of the intelligence services was in fact intended as a PR exercise by the international anti-terrorism coalition. In any case, it doesn't look as though the captured British citizen Lakhani is really a notorious arms dealer with links to Al Qaeda. Instead he seems a reckless and arrogant man who was attracted by the adventure, the paper opined.

Several European papers also commented on the package of economic reforms introduced by German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder on Wednesday.

Italy’s Corriere della Sera said Chancellor Schröder’s methods show that the whole of Europe is facing the same problems and having to adopt the same recipe to try to achieve economic growth. Everywhere, public spending is being reduced and even the basic tenets of the welfare state - pensions, public health insurance and social subsidies, are being rolled back.

La Montagne from Clermont-Ferrand in central France agreed that the problems may be the same, but it said the French and German approaches to solving them could hardly be more different. The paper said French Prime Minister Raffarin must be envious of the situation across the Rhine, where Gerhard Schröder is in the process of knocking down the welfare state, considered out-of-date in most of Europe. Meanwhile Paris has stepped back from dismantling the public service, postponed changes to social security, and is talking only cautiously about privatization while it continues to pump public money into private companies. Two roads to achieving the same goal: economic growth. Time will tell which method is more efficient.