European Press Review: Roadmap Only Path to Peace | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 22.08.2003
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European Press Review: Roadmap Only Path to Peace

European papers on Friday focussed on the escalation of violence in the Middle East, the deaths in France during the heat wave, and the German chancellor’s reconciliatory meeting with his Italian counterpart.


Palestinians swore revenge after Hamas leader Ismail Abu Shanab was killed by Israel on Thursday.

With the cycle of attacks and counter-attacks continuing in the Middle East, London’s The Guardian writes: Neither side is entitled to use the other’s violence as an alibi for its own, but Israel, with the preponderance of power, is better placed to reflect on the folly, even in narrow terms of self-interest, of perpetuating this vicious cycle.

Another British daily, The Independent, thinks the end of the cease-fire on the Palestinian side through the blood orgy of the bombed bus and the ensuing retaliatory assassination cannot have surprised anyone in the Middle East in view of the total mutual lack of trust. But, the daily concludes that the roadmap remains the only path to peace.

Italy’s Corriere della Sera thinks the position of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, who called the targeted killing of Hamas leader Ismail Abu Shan a dreadful act, is becoming increasingly difficult. The daily says his latest pledges to fight terrorism have been unable to halt Israel’s acts of retaliation – instead they have just deepened the rift within the Palestinian camp.

According to Swiss broadsheet Tages-Anzeiger, for the time being it’s up to the United States to pressure both sides into making concessions. Should peace finally be established in the Middle East thanks to America, the Zurich-based daily says it would be the first time that something good has been done to the region from outside. If not, all the initiatives, conferences and plans remain an illusion – nothing more than a mirage.

With French President Jacques Chirac vowing to fix shortcomings in France's health system and facing mounting public anger over government inaction during a heat wave that caused thousands of deaths, Paris’ Liberation newspaper in Paris writes Mr Chirac came up with the same lame excuse as Prime Minister Jean Pierre Raffarin before him: it was all the fault of the French – their hard-heartedness and their lack of respect for the elderly. In his usual way of leaving things unsaid, the paper goes on, he promised more funds for the health system without giving any concrete figures.

Another French daily Le Monde is convinced that if Jacques Chirac is to survive the crisis unscathed, he must again invest more in people’s security. However, it concedes that in view of the poor state of the economy, the promised tax cuts and the budget restrictions imposed by Brussels, that is not going to be easy.

Finally in a comment on German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s meeting in Verona with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Friday, Belgium’s Le Soir writes: Music calms the mind. And so to the sound of the Bizet opera "Carmen" the two leaders will finally settle their conflict, which arose early last month when Mr Berlusconi compared a German member of the European parliament to a nazi. The meeting in the opera house, the daily says is just another example of the "friendship diplomacy" at which Silvio Berlusconi has become a master.