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Europe

European Press Review: Schröder's Decision to Cancel Italy Trip

Europe's newspapers on Thursday focused mainly on the German chancellor's decision to cancel his annual holiday to Italy.

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The papers think Schröder should stick to his Italian vacation.

Austria’s Der Standard agreed with much of the German press, saying Schröder should not have changed his holiday plans and should have used the trip to have a cappuccino with the hope of the Italian left, Riccardo Illy, instead. However, the paper does concede that this would be tantamount to interfering in Italian domestic politics. "But Berlusconi’s case shows more clearly than ever that within the EU there is no such thing as hermetically sealed domestic politics anymore."

In Italy the tone was quite different. "If you feel a cold gust of wind, don’t be mistaken," wrote Italian daily Il Messagero. "It's not coming from the air conditioning, it’s coming directly from Berlin," it said, referring to the frostiness which has returned to German-Italian relations. It concluded: “An obstacle has been placed in the path of our half year EU-presidency.”

British broadsheet The Guardian called the breakdown in relations "the deepest crisis in Italian-German relations since 1945." It criticised Berlusconi for offering neither regret nor any hint that he intended to take his junior tourism minister to task for calling Germans arrogant and hyper-nationalistic.

Other European papers commented on Washington’s admission that it was a mistake to accuse the former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein of trying to buy uranium from Niger. The Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad said democracy could not survive if its political leaders were untruthful, linking to the fact that so far no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. Further, reports over imports of uranium to produce nuclear weapons appear to have been false and there were still no indications as to a link between Hussein and Al Qaeda, the paper stated. Which is why, according to its editorial, there was “no reason for Washington to be self-satisfied.”

French daily Le Monde focused on the many questions still left unanswered: “How was it possible that doubts about the credibility of intelligence information didn’t reach Bush’s staff or those who wrote the president’s speech to the nation?”, it asked. Only days afterwards, the paper remarked, US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, neglected to include the Niger information in his Iraq presentation to the UN Security Council. And finally the paper wanted to know: “Who has produced these false proofs in the first place– and why?”