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Europe

European Press Review: European Crisis Resolution in Iran

Editorials on Tuesday focused on the efforts of German, French and British foreign ministers to encourage Iran to allow atomic weapons inspections. They also weighed in on the Swiss far-right's success in elections.

The French daily Ouest-France praised the European diplomats' visit to Tehran as a “brilliant example of the kind of foreign policy the Europeans want to promote.” That is, crisis resolution by means of dialogue rather than applying force. As long as there was no single European foreign minister, individual countries were left to take the initiative, wrote the paper. It said the entire European continent would benefit from the German, French and British foreign ministers' visit.

The German edition of the Financial Times saw the tour first and foremost as a diplomatic success for Iranian leader Mohammad Khatami. After his criticism of Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, Khatami had lost the backing of some of his followers, the paper argued. If Khatami now agreed to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Organization in his talks with the European ministers, it would save him the shame of submitting to Washington’s demands. The three European ministers, on the other hand, could profit in two ways, Financial Times Deutschland wrote. They would gain international profile as mediators between Washington and Iran and secure an important market for their economies.

Many editorial writers were occupied with the right-wing People Party's electoral triumph in Swiss elections on Sunday. Switzerland had embraced the politics of fear and hate,” the British Independent wrote. Less than 10 years ago, the party was the smallest of the four parties that made up the country’s ruling coalition. After winning 27 percent of the vote it now had the largest share of power. The party had only achieved such a result by shamelessly appealing to voters’ baser instincts and dishonestly attributing rising crime and a stalling economy to increased immigration, the Independent said. The British paper warned that an embrace of the far right would hurt Switzerland's image and its place in the world.

The Oslo-based daily Aftenposten shared the concerns. Switzerland was apparently no exception in a Europe where right-leaning parties were gaining ground by using immigrants as scapegoats for poor economic performance, the Norwegian paper wrote. But the fact that Switzerland wasn’t alone, didn't make right-wing messages any easier to digest, it said.

The Russian daily Isvestiya attributed the outcome of the Swiss elections to problems within the European Union. Something had gone wrong, the paper said, when only Eastern European countries with their run-down economies were admitted to the EU, while a thriving and independent nation such as Switzerland was standing by, skeptically watching the process of European integration.

Britain’s Financial Times also traced the Swiss People’s Party’s success to the unpopularity of the European Union within Switzerland. By exploiting such grievances, the paper observed, the far-right party had shown the country’s direct democracy was not a sufficient valve to express discontent. While the system, clearly needed shaking up, the Financial Times wrote, it was a pity the country had left People’s Party leader Christoph Blocher to do the shaking up.