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Europe

European Press Review: Argentina Toys with the IMF

The International Monetary Fund's announcement that it will release a $3.1 billion loan to Argentina, despite the country's good faith being cast in doubt, attracted widespread comment in European papers on Thursday.

The Financial Times wrote that the most controversial question outstanding had been Argentina's take-it or leave-it attitude to its creditors. With the government and the IWF now in agreement, what was most urgently needed was speedy movement towards renegotiation of the outstanding debt.

The Guardian said the answer for the larger debtor nations such as Argentina was for the IMF to issue growth linked bonds that so repayments can fit economic circumstance. But the IMF needs more than this, it needs a better method of choosing a new managing director, rather than by unedifying horse-trading, and it must urgently revisit proposals for a sovereign debt restructuring mechanism so that troubled countries and creditors can reach agreements. Otherwise, the IMF may find itself needing rescue.

The German paper Die Welt was also alarmed, saying that the issue of debt rescheduling in Argentina was being politicized in a hazardous, populist manner. The creditors, who include one million Argentineans, are being branded as unscrupulous rogues, while the government prepares for the re-entry of the state into key sectors of economy. Die Welt also warned that Argentina's cavalier attitude to the IMF could adversely affect the conduct of other debtor nations. Why bother to respect the fund's instructions when you get your money anyway, the paper asked.

Germany has been shaken by allegations that top Munich soccer executives accepted $3.5 million in bribes in connection with the construction of a new stadium which was to be the venue for the first match of the 2006 World Cup. German Interior Minister Otto Schily turned into a newspaper columnist on Thursday to tell readers of Bild tabloid that the corruption allegations must be investigated and cleared up as soon as possible. Germany, the minister said, must present the best possible image of itself to the rest of the world in 2006. There would be no room on the playing field for black sheep.

European editorials have been commenting almost daily on the November presidential election in the United States. The Russian paper Isvestia looked at the Republicans' attempt to take Democratic candidate John Kerry to task over his links to Europe. For conservative Americans, the Moscow daily wrote, the word "European" is almost a term of abuse. Seen from the perspective of "100 percent Americans," Kerry's background had a number of weak points, the paper suggested. Kerry's wife was Portuguese and he himself spent his childhood in Norway, Germany, Switzerland and France. How could he then avoid possible avoid being afflicted by the spirit of liberalism? Worst of it all, the daily commented, the Democratic candidate had no regrets.

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