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Europe

German Press Review: Berlin's Grand Coalition

Thursday’s papers addressed the political compromise for a new German immigration law, a court ruling permitting the deportation of an Islamic militant and the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Germany’s ruling Social Democrats and the opposition Christian Democrats have reached a compromise on a new immigration law after months of gridlock. The chancellor thinks the agreement makes it look as though he was the one to cut through the Gordian knot, wrote the Süddeutsche Zeitung. But is that really the case, the paper asked? The reality isn’t so fabulous and the law still has to be written. That part still has to be negotiated, too, the paper said, and the devil is in the details.

The Badische Neueste Nachrichten digested the whole process to the basic formula: Gerhard Schröder governs, but Angela Merkel, the leader of the opposition, governs alongside him. The Red-Green era is over, the paper predicted, and Berlin is now governed by a grand coalition.

The Financial Times Deutschland commented that Angela Merkel has grown so strong that she doesn’t even have to block things anymore. She didn’t meet the chancellor halfway; he came three-quarters of the way to her, the paper wrote. The Greens, the SPD’s junior coalition partner, said the Straubinger Tagblatt, can complain all they want. They are the losers in this compromise. The outcome is a far cry from what the Greens desired.

Berlin’s Der Tagespiegel applauded the compromise, saying a law on the books will overcome the ideological hurdles and pave the way for future expansion of the law. The Mitteldeutsche Zeitung agreed and emphasized that the compromise will keep the issue out of the election campaign and that benefits the domestic political peace.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung turns its attention to the appeals court ruling that Metin Kaplan, an Islamic militant living in Germany, can be deported to stand trial in Turkey. The paper noted that there is no proof as yet that torture no longer occurs in Turkey, but Ankara cannot afford bad press if it wants to join the European Union. The paper thought instead that Turkey will handle Kaplan like a raw egg.

The Mannheimer Morgen agreed and noted that judges for the first time attest that Ankara has made serious efforts to reform its judicial system. It will take time for him to exhaust his legal options, the paper said, but no one is going to miss this firebrand once he has left German soil. The Kölnische Rundschau argued that Kaplan and his ilk should be deported, but that we live under the rule of law. That means that everyone has the right to use all the instruments of appeal. The Kieler Nachrichten breathed a sigh of relief and said: "Finally! It was an elementary contradiction of our democratic sense of justice that such a firebrand could be housed here."

The Wetzlarer Neue Zeitung focused on Sudan where Arab militias have been murdering black Africans in the Darfur region of the country with the tacit and sometime active approval of the government. This is not a natural disaster, but one made by human hands, the paper noted. These starving people have to suffer for two reasons: one, because their own government hates them; and two, because the international community is not interested in their plight.

The Ostsee-Zeitung agreed and noted that the disaster in Darfur once again shows that you first have to have a mega-catastrophe before anyone pays attention. For tens of thousands of Sudanese the bitter reality is hunger, disease and death, the paper concluded.