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Europe

European Press Review: The End of an Era

European editors on Tuesday weighed in on the US's decision to pull troops out of Germany and other western European countries, and the presidential recall referendum in Venezuela.

Some European papers interpret the US's decision to pull troops out of Europe as a way for the Bush administration to "punish" France and Germany for not backing the Iraq war. De Morgen from Brussels noted that the pull-out would "be hardest for Germany. Thousands of Germans and businesses work either directly or indirectly for the American military," the paper pointed out. "For a country with more than four million unemployed, that's not good

news."

The Financial Times of London called the pull-out "the end of an era." "The real issue facing American troops today is that there are too few of them to perform the jobs demanded." The paper praised John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, for vowing "to add 40,000 soldiers" to the forces currently in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Le Figaro from Paris also praised Kerry's suggestion, but for different reasons. It commented that moving the troops out of Europe to Iraq and elsewhere actually makes those extra 40,000 "unnecessary." But according to the French daily, "any argument that Kerry makes is right, if it means he wins the White House."

Many European papers praised Sunday’s election in Venezuela, which confirmed President Hugo Chavez in office, but were worried about how the main political parties would react to it. Der Standard in Austria advised Chavez to "compromise with at least some of his enemies, or else it could lead to civil war."

El Pais from Madrid wrote that it didn't see signs that "the conflict will soon be over." It pointed out that "the opposition is now claiming huge fraud, even though international observers said that the election results were correct."

Libération from Paris was also critical of Venezuela's opposition. "Chavez is certainly as his enemies describe him: a pigheaded soldier, a demagogue and authoritarian." However, the paper also chastised the opposition for "never giving the impression that democracy meant anything more than giving them their privileges back."

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