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Europe

German Press Review: Austrian-German Summit a Peace Offer

German editorials on Friday discussed the first official visit to Germany by Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel. The EU stability pact and U.S.-German relations were also reviewed.

Die Welt wondered why it had taken four years for Schüssel to come to Berlin as an official guest of his German counterpart. French President Jacques Chirac is there almost every week, wrote the paper, remarking that this says a lot about Germany’s position in the European Union. There is no longer a balance of power between smaller and larger EU countries, the commentary read. But if Paris and Berlin continue to flaunt the Euro stability pact, the smaller countries, with Austria as their speaker, might respond by losing interest in trying to find a compromise for a new EU constitution, the daily said.

The Märkische Oderzeitung in Frankfurt (Oder) speculated that one of the reasons German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder invited Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel to Berlin was an attempt at peace making. There was a sour taste left by the EU sanctions that were imposed against Austria three years ago when the far right FPÖ party joined the coalition government. The second reason, the paper wrote, was to improve relations with the unofficial leader of the critics of the draft European constitution. Austria is one of the smaller countries that fears it might lose power. According to the paper, Austria managed to show Germany that it doesn’t just want to be the little brother.

Some German papers still talked about the EU’s Stability Pact. The Süddeutsche Zeitung hoped the propaganda noise will eventually die down so governments can get back to concentrating on what Europe really needs: small and large EU countries pulling together. A new constitution must make decision-making easier in the European Union, argued the paper. That’s the only way Europe can thrive.

Other papers turn their attention to the relationship between Germany and the U.S. No news is sometimes good news, wrote the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger in Cologne. The U.S. government seems to have dropped its plans to move American troops from Germany into Poland. Germany’s position against the Iraq war hasn’t led to the fall

from grace many had feared. The fact is, the paper pointed out, it’s too expensive to pack up and move the large modern bases to Poland. Germany still remains the more important military location for the U.S. And NATO is still the glue that holds together transatlantic relations, the paper wrote.