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Europe

European Press Review: Practicing Realpolitik in Evian

European papers on Tuesday reflected on the G-8 summit in Evian and U.S. President Bush’s early departure.

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The independent French daily Le Monde accused U.S. President George W. Bush of a double standard in his foreign policy. The paper referred to what is taking place at the G-8 summit in Evian as "realpolitik," whereby U.S. President Bush repeatedly denounced the horrible human rights abuses of ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein so he can now call Russian President Vladimir Putin his "good friend" the paper argued. What Bush neglects is that the army of his so-called "good friend" has been as ruthless against the Chechen population as Saddam Hussein once was against the Kurds in Iraq. According to Le Monde, the degree of outrage in the White House seems to vary depending on American foreign policy interests.

The Swiss Berner Zeitung observed that President Bush did not in fact need much time to show who has the upper hand in world politics. After just 24 hours Bush could leave the summit having covered all three items on his agenda: a warning to Iran and North Korea about developing nuclear weaponry, a commitment to intensified global anti-terrorist efforts and the cooperation of leading economic powers and Russia in the reconstruction of Iraq. Bush left the summit early to travel to the Middle East for talks on the peace process. For this, the G-8 is hardly of any use to Bush, noted the paper.

Die Welt suggested that the departure of President Bush to the Middle East before the end of the meeting showed that the Americans don’t attach great importance to the meeting anymore. The paper said, "It is becoming increasingly clear that the G8 summits cannot be continued like this. The summit should get back to concentrating on economic subjects. And it should try to mirror the world wide economic balance of the 21st century." The Berlin-based daily suggested "it would make sense to have the growing European Union speak with only one voice and to include China, as well as Brazil and India, into the circle permanently."

British paper The Independent acknowledged the reasons for criticizing Bush’s early departure from the G-8 summit but warned against misunderstanding the nature of the differences between Americans and so-called "old Europe". The transatlantic differences are deep, wrote the paper, and they will not be bridged by "some flabbily worded communique or chummy body language." The London daily also pointed out that the "authority of the United Nations cannot be rebuilt in the course of an afternoon".