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German Press Review: Caught in an Oil Slick

The decision by the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC) to increase oil production dominated editorial pages in Germany on Friday, but few think it will bring prices down.

Berlin’s Die Welt does not believe the price of oil will fall very significantly as a consequence of the increase of production in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. However, it points out that even at present price levels the German economy will only lose about 0.2 percent in growth. That, the paper concludes, means that the economic upswing that is gradually gathering speed here is not in danger.

The Schwäbische Zeitung is less optimistic and argues that an important factor in the sharp rise in oil prices is not so much the danger of terrorist attacks or the increasing demand for oil from China. The real problem, it argues, is that there is not enough capacity for additional oil production. And that is exactly what speculators thrive on.

The Westfälische Nachrichten takes the view that the OPEC decision will at least slow oil price increases down somewhat. This shows, it writes, that the West can continue to rely on Saudi Arabia. However, it points out that there is every reason to remain concerned about the future. Fresh terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia could, it says, further destabilize the world oil market. In that case the United States would be powerless to intervene because Washington is already heavily committed in Iraq. The paper concludes that it is far too early for consumers to assume that the crisis has been resolved.

The international conference on renewable energies in Bonn also comes in for a good deal of press comment. The Ostthüringer Zeitung takes a clear stand. The

market share of renewable forms of energy, it writes, must be increased in order to reduce the dependence of industrial countries on oil. However, there are limits to the ability of renewable energies to replace fossil fuels. This will not be changed by the call from the conference in Bonn for an era of renewable energies. In a clear warning to Germany’s Green environment minister, Jürgen Tritten, the paper writes: "Those of us who wish to avoid a renaissance of nuclear power must not rely on solar energy and wind power alone, but must put more money into the search for alternative sources of energy."

In a related development, former chancellor candidate Edmund Stoiber, who heads of the conservative Christian Social Union party in Bavaria, said the current oil crisis should force Germany's government to rethink it's recent decision to close all the country's nuclear power plants. Responding to the Bonn conference on renewable energy, Stoiber called on the center-left Berlin government to abandon its phase out plans. The press is scathing.

The Aachener Nachrichten comments that Germany’s conservative Christian Democrats want to revive a dinosaur. That, it writes, "is populist, an attempt to turn the clock backwards."

Meanwhile, the Berliner Kurier writes that Stoiber has made a ridiculous proposal. By playing on people’s anger about high gas prices, the conservatives are merely, and very blatantly, trying to win votes at the next election.

  • Date 04.06.2004
  • Author DW-RADIO
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  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/58rI
  • Date 04.06.2004
  • Author DW-RADIO
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/58rI