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Europe

European Press Review: Joyless Unity?

European editorials on Monday commented on the 14th anniversary of Germany’s reunification and the meeting of the group of seven leading industrialized nations.

Germany celebrated its 14th year of unity on Sunday, marking the day when the country closed two dark chapters of its history, the end of the cold war and also the preceding Nazi period, wrote the French paper Ouest-France. It thought Germans could have at least shown more joy on the weekend despite the dismal economic and social difficulties, which is affecting nearly every European country at the moment, the paper noted.

De Volkskrant in the Netherlands thought the opposition to the social and labor market reforms in Germany is weakening and the people are starting to accept them. The paper said the government did a poor job of explaining the necessity of the reforms in the beginning but now seems to have made more of an effort. Why has Chancellor Gerhard Schröder come around, asked the paper. Maybe he’s finally taking his advisors’ advice to heart, the daily suggested.

Die Welt in Germany focused on the speech by German President Horst Köhler to mark Unity Day. His main intention was to give Germans courage, the daily said. He listed all the things that have been accomplished since the west and east came back together 15 years ago, and the list is long, the paper remarked. Nonetheless, it felt his speech was lacking color. It asserts that as the president his most important role is to convince this culture of complainers to stop bickering and support the reforms. He’s the right man to do it, he just needs to keep up his freshness and directness and not take on the cliché statesman-like attitude with his finger in the air while he talks, the paper concluded.

Other European editorial writers commented on the meeting of the group of seven most industrialized nations over the weekend in Washington. Britain’s The Guardian felt the G7 ministers as well as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank failed to really get their teeth into the big issues at hand – oil, China and debt. The paper acknowledged that the G7, IMF or World Bank have no influence over oil prices or China, but they do over debt. The daily was extremely disappointed in their failure to deal with the issue. It believed it’s important to work on writing off 100 percent of the debt belonging to the world’s poorest countries, but sadly too much discussion about how is trying the patience of the world’s poor, it noted. La Tribune in Paris thought the world’s richest nations didn’t get much out of allowing China a provisional seat at the table. In light of the G7’s demands that China float its currency, the yuan, Beijing officials vaguely indicated they might tackle the issue, but they made it clear it would be on their own time, the paper said. In the end, the only diplomatic thing that can be done with these indistinct promises is to act like progress is being made. The daily observed that China’s in no hurry to join the rich countries’ club and time is on its side.