European newspapers tackled a number of issues Monday from the need for the European Union to tighten security measures against terrorism attacks to France’s regional elections and the ethnic clashes in Kosovo.
Following the deadly bombings in Madrid on March 11, the issue of security and coordinated European efforts to fight terrorism topped the agenda throughout the EU over the weekend. In a tongue in cheek commentary regarding EU security, Austria’s Die Presse doubted whether it was possible to prevent Islamic terrorist attacks on the continent. With an ironic view of EU initiatives to bolster security, the Vienna paper suggested that France could exempt itself from terrorist attacks if it retracted its head scarf ban in public schools; and likewise Germany if it released detained Islamic terrorists; Austria would be protected from terrorism if it built a Minaret on the north tower of St. Stephan's Cathedral; and the entire European Union would be safe if it at appointed Osama Bin Laden as its Foreign Affairs minister.
The Danish paper, Berlingske Tidend criticized the EU for it’s complacent attitude regarding the war on terrorism and its lack of coordination. The Copenhagen daily wrote that after the September 11 attacks in the United States, the European Union decided to intensify cooperation in preventing terrorism. But the paper lamented, "that energy and resolve has waned because of the increasing distance of time since 9 /11. The bombs of Madrid showed that no country can feel safe, the paper exclaimed. It urged EU authorities to adopt new initiatives against terrorism such as tighter controls over suspicious financial transactions bankrolling terrorist groups and the rapid introduction of biometric passports.
Considering the possibility of an attack similar to Madrid taking place in Britain, the Guardian quoted the country’s Metropolitan Police Commission Sir John Stevens, who argued for closer cooperation within Europe, including a new Europol style agency specifically designed to fight terrorism. "How much good these measures will do remains to be seen, but to say that an attack is inevitable comes dangerously close to scaremongering," the paper admonished.
On Monday, French papers weighed in on the country’s regional elections held over the weekend, in which the governing center-right coalition suffered a major setback. The Parisian paper Liberation interpreted the results as a warning sign for the government from the voters. It predicted that the days of Jean Pierre Raffarin as Prime Minister are numbered. The paper wrote that after the second ballot a cut must be made so that it becomes clear that the head of state, Jacques Chirac understood the desire of the voters.
Commenting on last week's eruption of violence between ethnic Albanians and Serbs in the U.N.-administered province of Kosovo, Moscow’s Iswestija described the clashes as destroying two ideologies which the western leaders and the Balkan people wanted to believe in: "The first was that Albanians and non-Albanians could live together harmoniously and that secondly moderate Albanian leaders would not push for nationalism and thereby abandon the minority Serbs in the province."