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Europe

European Press Review: UN's General Assembly

The General Assembly of the United Nations and George Bush's speech dominated European editorials on Wednesday. Some papers commented on Germany's chances of getting a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

The British daily The Independent sharply criticized US President George W. Bush for having missed the chance to ask for help in Iraq while speaking before the UN. "Modesty has never been President Bush’s forte," the paper suggested, "so it was perhaps hardly surprising that in his speech he gave little hint that the US is now engaged in a catastrophic war in Iraq, a war undertaken at his initiative without UN authorization and judged by the UN Secretary General only last week as illegal. Instead of a measured account of reality in Iraq, Bush brimmed with clichés about freedom and democratization that glorified the American way." And that’s why, for the paper, "almost everything Mr. Bush said was at best contestable, at worst downright wrong."

The French daily Liberation shared this criticism, saying: "George W. Bush left no doubt that the dominant tendency in American power politics remains a slightly self centered feeling of superiority. But while Bush is hiding behind the American flag, his challenger, Democratic candidate John Kerry, is not coming up with a true solution for Iraq either," the paper pointed out. And it predicted: "Whoever will be the next president will only be given the choice between administrating the anarchy in Iraq as an occupier or intensifying it through withdrawal."

The Russian daily Nesawissimaja Gaseta suggested that Bush’s speech was not primarily directed at the national leaders of the world gathered at the UN, but rather at the American voters, as, according to latest polls, the race between Bush and Kerry is still narrow. "Bush was making use of the international stage for his election campaign," the paper observed – and that’s an opportunity his challenger doesn’t have.

"All for one and one for all," wrote the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, referring to Germany, Brazil, Japan and India who have all launched bids for a permanent seat on the US Security Council "these four nations have agreed to an iron pact promising each other support in the fight for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council." It might still be too early to foresee the impact this coalition will have – as it has drawn both approval as well as refusal, the paper suggested. But it notices an "overall climate of change within the United Nations," concluded the paper.