On Monday, Europe's papers concentrated on the G8 summit in Evian, the world economy and transatlantic relations.
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La Tribune in Paris argued it is readily apparent at this summit that the rich nations are having difficulty in concentrating on the poorer countries' problems. Africa, the most important guest on the first day, was supposed to find answers for its chronic underdevelopment. But with post-Gulf War tension still running high this important issue was overshadowed by the handshake between Presidents Bush and Chirac, the paper wrote. The thoughts of the members of the exclusive G8 club are simply elsewhere - not in Africa, but on domestic economic problems.
The Algemeen Dagblatt observed that the world economy is showing signs of weakness. International Cupertino is not at its best, and the misunderstandings between the continents have not disappeared, the paper said. But world leaders are talking to one another and that must been seen as a hopeful sign. Europe cannot ignore America, the paper cautioned, but the Americans also need their old partners in the western alliance and will therefore be forced to resume a dialogue. Hopefully, Bush will find the necessary room for maneuvering in the corridors of Washington.
Financial Times Deutschland viewed President Bush’s options and intentions very differently. Bush did not come to the Evian summit to apologize for the war on Iraq, but to present its opponents with a second opportunity to follow Washington's lead. And for the first time, the paper said, the American president refrained from voicing support for European integration. In front of the cameras, Bush played the jovial Texan who pats Jacques Chirac on the back and politely shakes Gerhard Schröder by the hand. But behind closed doors, the US president insisted on allegiance. The demands he is leveling at Europe were underlined in his speech in Poland: greater commitment in the struggle against weapons of mass destruction, starvation and AIDS. But it is not, the paper observed, Bush's policy goals that annoy European governments, but rather his overbearing, imperious manner.
As to how America was planning to deal with the opponents of the Gulf War, the Italian paper La Stampa said the watchword making the rounds in Washington was "forgive Russia, ignore Germany and punish France." For Germany, and for Chancellor Schröder, this turned into a merciful handshake
The Belgian paper Le Soir concentrated on Chancellor Schröder's triumph at a special party congress in Berlin during which he was able to secure overwhelming support for his Agenda 2010, a far-reaching package of reforms on social welfare. A defeat, the paper noted, would have triggered a serious government crisis and perhaps even a change at the top. That is something delegates understood all too well when they voted in favor of Schröder's reform package, the paper concluded.