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Europe

German Press Review: Anti-Turkey Petition a Wrong Signal

German newspapers Tuesday continued to dwell optimistically on the first free Afghan elections and warned against a German conservative consideration to launch a petition against Turkey's EU entry.

The Wetzlarer Neue Zeitung praised Afghan voters for showing the will to shape their country’s fate according to transparent rules. That is a step in the right direction even if the path to a peaceful future is going to be long, the paper wrote. It added that the deployment of German soldiers and civilian aid workers will be required for many years to come as German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder made clear during his brief visit to Kabul on Monday.

The Afghan elections are a historic event for a country that has had to suffer war, civil war and dictatorship for more than 20 years, the Stuttgarter Zeitung wrote. No one could expect such polls to be conducted without irregualarities, it added. After all, even in a highly developed country like the US we saw four years ago that it was hardly possible to count votes fairly and justly, the paper concluded.

The Frankfurter Neue Presse was convinced that international reconstruction teams must show the Afghans that there is an economic alternative to drug cultivation. Once that objective has been achieved, the paper concluded, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer can withdraw German troops and be really satisfied.

Several German dailies also dwelled on considerations by Germany’s opposition Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister-party, the Christian Social Union, to launch a petition against Turkey’s EU membership.

The Offenburger Tageblatt wrote that the two conservative parties have so far not distinguished themselves with calls to anchor the referendum as a democratic instrument in the federal constitution. At any rate, the paper said, the neo-Nazi parties, DVU and NPD, will be having a good laugh because an anti-Turkey petition would play into their hands and be directed just at their right-wing extremist voter base that became apparent at the recent state elections in Saxony and Brandenburg. CDU Leader Angela Merkel should ask herself if she really wants to take that risk, the paper warned.

And finally, in a comment on the Europe Union’s decision to lift sanctions and the arms embargo against Libya, the Badische Neueste Nachrichten in Karlsruhe accused the EU of double standards. It recalled that a large majority of the bloc’s 25 member-states, including Germany, refused to remove the weapons embargo against China because of that country’s unsatisfactory human rights record. And that’s a good thing, according to the paper. It added that one must be rather naive to think that human rights in Libya are being respected.

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