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Europe

German Press Review: Do-gooders Out of Ideas

Saturday's bomb attacks on two synagogues in Istanbul and the Social Democrats' annual party convention earned copious attention in Germany's editorial pages on Monday.

"Istanbul has become yet another arena for the war of ideology being fought between the successors to [terrorist Osama] bin Laden and all those who are not prepared to give up without a struggle," Berlin daily Die Welt wrote on Monday. "The fanatics see Turkey, along with Egypt, Morocco and Jordan, as a land of traitors, whose rulers are heretics. Ankara is intent on strengthening its ties with Europe, has close links to Israel and a long tradition of coexistence between Moslems and Jews. But the murderers of Istanbul cry out "Turkey is ours."

The Schwäbische Zeitung from southern Germany said the attacks marked the end of a phase of relative calm in Turkey, which began with the ceasing of hostilities against the Kurds in 1999. The Turks will no longer be able to feel safe in their own country, the paper said. "In Istanbul, that cosmopolitan city which bridges Europe and Asia, the perpetrators launched an attack on the basic moral values of all civilized states, such as tolerance and the right to the

peaceful practice of the religion of one's choice. It is therefore important for Europe that Turkey wins this battle against militant intolerance, using the means at its disposal under the rule of law. "

Germany's Social Democrats are gathering in Bochum for their annual convention, which comes at the start of a make-or-break period of painful economic and social reform. The Neue Rheinzeitung from Essen, commented that voters and supporters are deserting the party in droves and its ratings in the opinion polls have never been so low. But if the opposition parties were in power, they would be faring just as badly, it said. The Social Democrats would then probably be tempted to stir up public protest against proposed painful cuts in the standard of living. "But in reality, it is the Social Democrats who are going to have bring change to this country and themselves as well."

The Rheinische Post wrote that the Social Democrats, "those do-gooders who believe that everything can be planned and put into practice, have now run out of ideas. [Former chancellor] Willy Brandt's vision of Social Democracy has turned gray with age. It is also no longer affordable."

The Social Democrats are contemplating raising inheritance tax. The Badische Zeitung observed that personal wealth and property have been rediscovered just in time for the party convention. "The idea is to fill empty state coffers and offer some sort of moral compensation for the austerity measures that ordinary working people and the poor are going to have to stomach when Chancellor Schröder's reform agenda is introduced."