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Europe

German Press Review: A Flawed Pact

German editorials commented on Wednesday on the efforts of German industry to boost its number of apprenticeships and looked at the outcome of the presidential election in Indonesia and Iran's attitude towards IAEA.

Companies got out of a government plan which would have made them pay a penalty for not offering apprenticeships by agreeing to a "training pact" under which they promised to provide enough traineeships for all the young people who need them. The Mannheimer Morgen was not impressed with their efforts so far. Business and the no-longer-quite-so-super-minister Wolfgang Clement slap themselves on the backs, the paper complained, and say what a pity it is there are still 30,000 traineeships too few. In other words, the pact is a flop. The paper argued that government and industry can make pacts till they're blue in the face, but it's the companies which have to provide the traineeships.

The Schweriner Volkszeitung disagreed: To describe the pact already as a failure is not fair, it wrote. 35,000 new traineeships have been set up, more than the pact required. Many companies which have never done any training before have been convinced to invest in the younger generation. But the shortfall of 30,000 is still even larger than last year, when it was 20,000. This is for two reasons, said the paper: companies which have gone broke or which are doing badly have led to a loss of over ten thousand places, and there are 20,000 more school-leavers this year. You can't blame that on the companies, opined the paper, but it's no reason for them to sit back and do nothing. A big final effort is needed, concluded the paper.

The Financial Times Deutschland looked at the outcome of the presidential election in Indonesia. And, appropriately enough, it began by looking at how the markets received the news that Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono seems to be winning. The optimism of the stock exchange in Jakarta, it said, shows that it was not just the voters who wanted to see the former General Yudhoyono win. He has to do two things, wrote the paper: foreign investors want improvements in the legal system and the ending of corruption and political influence in business. But the new president must also offer a perspective to the ordinary people. Unlike the new Indian government and the new Philippine president, General Yudhoyono has said little about fighting poverty or agricultural programs. It'll be a tightrope act to introduce necessary reforms while cushioning their social effects, concluded the daily.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung was incensed by the attitude of Iran towards the International Atomic Energy Agency. One can scarcely express contempt for a UN agency more clearly, it wrote. Three days after the IAEA told Iran to stop enriching uranium, Teheran insisted on its right to produce products needed for just this sensitive process. The paper pointed out that Teheran knows the strategic value for a medium-sized power in the Middle East of being able to build nuclear weapons. The possibility of technology transfers from Europe and a trade agreement with the EU pale in comparison.