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Europe

European Press Review: Outdated Claims?

Thursday's papers reviewed US president George W. Bush's address to the UN General Assembly and Germany's bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Denmark's Jyllands-Posten commented on the speech given by US President George W. Bush to the UN General Assembly. Bush, it said, sent a clear message at a time when the situation in Iraq looks worse than it ever has since the end of the war. The United States, Bush said, would not desert Iraq until the situation normalizes and the country is a democracy that can stand on its own. Of course, anything else would be horrendous, the paper emphasized. You can discuss the pros and cons of the war, the paper wrote, but now there is no turning back for the US and its allies, including Denmark. The duty to achieve the peace weighs more heavily than winning the war, the paper concluded.

Spanish daily El Pais had a different opinion, commenting that US President George W. Bush has failed in his efforts to stabilize Iraq. It described the invasion as a big mistake, and his methods to bring about peace as wrong. The paper also wondered whether Bush's information on Iraq were drawn from the same source as that of Spain's former prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, who viewed the Iraq conflict as part of the centuries-old confrontation between the West and the Muslim world.

Turning to Germany's bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, the Swiss daily Der Bund said there was no doubt that the world body needs to be reformed to meet future challenges. It added that it was understandable that Germany and Japan, defeated in World War II, would like to dispatch this stigma once and for all and be treated in accordance with their current political and economic status. But, the paper asked, is it appropriate to promote individual nations to the status of regional powers by making them permanent Security Council members? That kind of thinking, the paper concluded, is more befitting to the 19th century and not the 21st.

Germany's Märkische Oderzeitung called the push by Chancellor Schröder and Foreign Minister Fischer to gain a permanent Council seat a disaster for the European idea. And it doesn't help, the paper said, to point out that Germany is the third-largest contributor to the United Nations, and the second-largest contributor of blue beret troops. These arguments sound more like demands for compensation for services rendered, rather than a political platform for the 21st century, the paper argued.