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Europe

European Press Review: Unified Position Good For Europe

European papers on Thursday focussed on the Franco-German meeting in Berlin aimed to stimulate the sluggish EU economy, the upcoming trilateral Iraq summit with Britain and their wider implications for Europe.

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Ahead together -- German Chancellor Schröder and French President Chirac.

Italian daily La Repubblica wrote that by breaching the European Union’s Stability and Growth Pact on economic restrictions, France and Germany appear undisciplined to the smaller EU members. These are not always wrong in accusing the big two of arrogance, the paper commented. Furthermore, Paris and Berlin still haven’t mended the transatlantic rift caused by the Iraq crisis. But the paper pointed out that while these difficulties could easily have destroyed their partnership, the opposite has in fact happened – and according to the paper, this strong relationship is a good thing for a divided Europe.

Conservative French newspaper Le Figaro wrote that Germany and France are aware that their interests are broadly the same. So it’s no surprise that they take a joint approach to their problems, including the institutional structure of an expanded European Union, the daily said. But the Franco-German double act must find a way to convince and involve its partners without issuing directives, the paper added and commented that the inclusion of Britain in a three-way summit this weekend may be regarded as a positive sign.

Britain’s Financial Times turned to the upcoming trilateral summit between German, French and British leaders in Berlin on Saturday that will attempt to find common ground on a new U.S. draft resolution on Iraq, aimed to rally international help. The paper remarked that it was the inability of the British, French and German leaders to agree on any common stance on Iraq that left the EU emasculated in any effort to influence U.S. policy. So there’s all the more reason to welcome their first trilateral meeting in two years, the paper said.

At the same time the paper added that this should not be seen as an attempt to dictate the EU agenda but as a belated effort to prevent their own disagreements from causing deadlock in the Union. The paper however cautioned that this is not the right moment for Europe to swallow its doubts about U.S. foreign policy, just for the sake of better transatlantic ties. Europe is right to insist that tackling the causes of terrorism is most important, and for this using the tools of the multilateral system is essential, the paper wrote. If Britain, France and Germany could settle their differences on Iraq, they could at last become a positive influence on Washington, at a moment when the mistakes of the U.S.-led coalition are becoming obvious to all but the most obtuse, the paper added. The daily stressed this would also be a vital signal to ordinary Europeans that their Union can forge common foreign policy on something that really matters.

German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung turned to the decision by a Berlin court to lift a ban on the publication of files on the ex-German Chancellor Helmut Kohl compiled by the former East German secret police. Helmut Kohl has lost, the paper wrote. The court left no doubt that the change to the law governing Stasi files also applies to him. But it seems Kohl will only be happy when another clause is added to the law which reads, "This law does not apply to the Chancellor of German Unification," the paper said.

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