1. Inhalt
  2. Navigation
  3. Weitere Inhalte
  4. Metanavigation
  5. Suche
  6. Choose from 30 Languages


European Press Review: Examining Blair's Political Tactics

Europe's papers reacted to British Prime Minister Tony Blair's decision to call a referendum on the EU constitution, a surprise reversal of his earlier statement that Britain would not hold a referendum on the issue.

Tony Blair explained on several occasions that he wasn't going to have a public debate on the issue of a EU constitution, recalls La Croix in Paris, so why has he changed his mind now? Tactical reasons, the paper said, adding that he wants to take the wind out of the opposition's sails before the upcoming European elections. But, the paper said that the way things look now, the referendum isn't set to happen in the near future. That way, it wrote, Blair can hope to gain a yes vote by building tension.

Die Presse in Vienna also saw Blair's decision as a last attempt to create some breathing space before June's European elections. It also said that if the referendum were to happen after Britain's general elections, expected to take place in May 2005, then Blair might actually win. However, the paper warned that such a victory would quickly become meaningless if the British were to reject the EU constitution in the referendum, because in that case, Blair would have to resign anyway.

The Tagesanzeiger in Zurich predicted that Blair will emerge on top after his embarrassing U-turn in policy. However, the paper added that he now needs to use this moment to win over the euroskeptics in his country.

Germany's Financial Times Deutschland commented that fears over a growing European Union are not just present in Britain, but are spread across the continent. Many associate the EU with foreign infiltration, loss of sovereignty, and a big bureaucratic mess. Even in France, one of the founding members, there are loud calls for a referendum, the paper wrote, adding that it's the European Union that should grasp Blair's referendum as a chance to win over the minds, if not the hearts, of Europeans.

Britain's The Guardian turned its attention to the release of former Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu on Wednesday. Vanunu was jailed 18 years ago for leaking secrets about Israel's atomic weapons program to a British paper. The Guardian wrote that times have changed since Vanunu went to prison. Israel likely has more nuclear warheads than Britain, but it will not admit to the fact, nor will its U.S. ally, the paper said, while noting that other Western countries also steer clear of the subject. At a time when Iran and Libya are being encouraged to take the open road, why should Israel be exempt, the paper asked. As for Vanunu, the paper said we should deplore the inhumane way in which he was treated in prison, where he spent 12 years in solitary confinement. It acknowledge that he may be a traitor to the Israeli state, but in exposing a secret which needed to be told, he has shown a
higher duty to wider humanity.