European newspapers took the opportunity provided by the Petersburg summit and the G-8 meeting in Evian to once again analyze the ties that bond and break.
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Germany’s Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung viewed the Petersburg summit and this weekend’s G-8 meeting as an ideal opportunity to repair the currently tattered diplomatic arena. Unlike German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder who is finding it difficult to restart a dialogue with U.S. President George W. Bush, the Russian leader Vladimir Putin is pragmatic, the paper noted. He’s ready to work with the Americans again, a course that Washington accepts, and which differentiates very clearly between the anti-war countries.
Italy’s Corriere della Sera focused on the fact that President Bush is beginning his difficult trip to Europe with a highly symbolic visit to Poland. Warsaw was a friend in the Iraq war and the U.S. has been quick to show its gratitude by rewarding the country with economic and military contracts. Bush is also visiting a former Nazi concentration camp as a reminder that evil sometimes must be fought with force - as in Iraq.
Austria’s Die Presse doubted whether the upcoming G-8 summit would lead to a reconciliation between the U.S. and Europe. Evian will not be a therapy for the terribly dysfunctional transatlantic family, the paper predicted. Instead, the only chance for success will be the sober acceptance of differences.
Another Austrian paper, Der Standard, lamented the current state of transatlantic ties and urged Europe to develop new visions if it wanted to compete with America. What can Europe even offer in terms of constructive competition among partners to America’s long-term policy to create new global facts, the paper questioned. The EU debate on institutional reform and a possible European constitution has revealed a shocking lack of fantasy and visionary thinking, the paper commented, but without it Europe cannot overcome its current stagnation.
France’s Le Figaro took the opportunity to criticize European neighbors. Europe must not fool itself, the paper stated. The war in Iraq revealed that a majority in Europe supported Washington’s views and actions. France, it noted, was supported by a few countries, but essentially it was alone in its efforts to promote the rule of law. "We must continue to press Europe to play an active role and not just a bit part," the paper concluded.
Britain’s Financial Times was of the same opinion and said the world needs Europe to unite. Trapped inside an obsolete international system, where it is impossible to create a sense of purpose and legitimacy, Europe and the U.S. can only undermine each other. Fundamental changes in the international order have created an unprecedented rift that calls for new thinking and decisive action, the paper said.
The Russian daily Kommersant looked at the Petersburg summit and referred to it as a new mechanism for discussing and solving important problems. A successful summit is not just a plus for Russia’s reputation, the paper suggested, but underscores the argument and necessity for new, more effective forms of dealing with global problems than what is currently possible under the United Nations. Russia, the paper concluded, is ready to support this goal.