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Europe

European Press Review: Focus on Hostage Crisis

While the Republican Convention in New York topped European commentaries today, the fate of hundreds of hostages in a Russian school, and two French journalists in Iraq also concerned European papers.


The Financial Times
looked at the Republican Convention in New York , and wrote that historical precedent said that the coming election should be a referendum on the President Bush’s first term, but he couldn't afford that, the paper noted. The president knew his record wilted under scrutiny. It has scarcely been mentioned this week. On every vital issue except the war on terrorism – the economy, healthcare, education, Iraq –Mr. Kerry claimed a higher poll rating. So any time someone mentioned jobs, Falluja, or the budget deficit, the Republicans changed the subject, the paper pointed out.

The Independent in London reflected on the Republican voters themselves and what it was about Bush that’s so appealing to them. Bush was dismantling the few social programs in the US that helped the poor, the paper noted, but he talked up his agreement with the hyper-patriotism, homophobia, evangelism and opposition to abortion prevalent among poor Americans. That’s how he passes as a “regular guy”– unlike pro-gay, pro-choice, quiet-about-religion John Kerry. Since Kerry had no alternative class agenda, the paper said, the American poor of course opted for the guy who at least agreed with them on something.

The Dutch paper de Volkskrant commented on the hostage situation in Russia . It wrote that although Chechen terrorists had in the past made other such spectacular attacks, taking children as hostages proved that terrorists could become even more merciless. Choosing a school as a battlefield, the paper pointed out, showed that some of the Chechen resistance were no longer worried about their public image. The captors were truly living in their own terrorist universe, concluded the paper.

The French paper Libération remarked on the fate of its countrymen taken hostage in Iraq and questioned how their release might be secured. Regardless of whether the captors were bought out or forced to bow to stronger powers, or even if they refused to do so, the way the negotiations were conducted would have an effect on France ’s future position in Iraq and in the entire region, the paper predicted.

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