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Europe

German Press Review: Assessing Germany's UN Aspirations

Thursday sees the German editorials considering the G4 nations' joint bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and reflecting on the government's latest report on the progress of German unity

Responding to the G4 nations' bid for expanded membership and their inclusion in the UN Security Council, the Handelsblatt in Düsseldorf stressed that those who want to make progress must join forces. Germany, Japan, Brazil, and India have the best chances for permanent seats on the Council, it wrote, which would make it more cohesive -- and cohesion is going to be paramount when the debate on reforming the United Nations enters its final ugly phase. If the G4 nations can remain unified even after all the current pleasantries are said and done, then the group could have a real effect, the Handelsblatt predicted. The number of

inhabitants and the economic achievements of the G4 countries, as well as their financial contributions to the UN, make them too important to be ignored, wrote the paper.

Essen's Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung recalled UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's words that "the Council is still designed based on conditions in 1945." That, the paper said, is precisely why it would make sense for Germany to gain a permanent Security Council seat. The addition would reflect current reality, especially Germany's position alongside other nations like the US, Great Britain, France, Russia, and China. Also, Germany is the third highest contributor to UN coffers and should therefore be allowed to represent its interests appropriately, the paper argued.

The Thüringer Allgemeine in Erfurt took a closer look at Germany and the government's latest report on German unity. The report reached the surprising conclusion that the gap between East and West has begun to close. But eastern Germany can only catch up as long as western Germany lags behind, and that's no way to bridge a gap, the paper contended. After all, when the economy in western Germany expands at minus 0.1 percent, it can't be good for financially dependent eastern Germany. This playing around with decimals and tenths-of-points ultimately fails to convey whether there's a real economic upsurge. Only jobs can do that. And in that respect, the paper noted, little has changed in the East.

Chemnitz's Freie Presse chimed in with the observation that employment is at a record-high in the East, double that in western Germany. Just a year ago, the paper recalls, the author of the report, government minister Manfred Stolpe, urged eastern Germans to dispel the notion that eastern Germany would catch up with the West. And now, suddenly, the gap is closing, quipped the Freie Presse.

The Berliner Kurier took an optimistic approach toward the unity report. The daily wrote that it's become a reflex in Germany to resent the East on the grounds that it's expensive to fund and that it's floundering. According to the report, progress in eastern Germany may not be all rosy, but it's also not a catastrophe, argued the paper. Slowly but surely, things are looking up in the East, and maybe it's time to finally start calling the glass half full rather than half empty, it suggested.