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Europe

German Press Review: Dropping Bella Italia Not a Good Move

Chancellor Schröder’s cancelled Italian vacation and its implications occupied most German papers on Thursday. Others commented on the ongoing leadership crisis in once mighty engineering union IG Metall.

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German Chancellor Schröder won't be taking a break in Italy this year.

The Frankfurter Rundschau wrote nothing against Hanover, but Gerhard Schröder never really wanted to spend his holidays there, did he? Just like every year, what he was after was a trip to bella Italia - and he ought to have gone, the paper said, rather than capitulating to political thugs in Rome. The paper opined that precisely because the right-wing government there chose to tar all Germans with the same brush, it would have been better if Schröder had decided not to do the same to the Italians. The paper quoted the poet Robert Gernhardt, " I will not let my love for Italy be spoiled by one single Italian."

The Berliner Tagesspiegel took a similar view. The only good chancellor is a relaxed chancellor, the paper suggested. Holidays in Hanover - how is that going to help? Are millions of Germans now supposed to follow Schröder’s lead and punish Italy's hoteliers, pizza-makers and ice cream sellers? The paper noted that the chancellor’s move has little to do with sensible foreign or European policy. Rather, his nose is telling him that this is a subject that resonates deep in the public's consciousness, the daily concluded.

The Rhein Zeitung from Koblenz on the other hand, thought Schröder made the right decision. After all this is about more than a political misunderstanding, the paper wrote. If a tourism minister takes it upon himself to vilify German holiday-makers, then he must bear the consequences. Now it's the many Italian restaurateurs, small business owners and traders who will have to bear the brunt of Signore Stefani's comments, the broadsheet said.

The Allgemeine Zeitung Mainz turned to the ongoing power struggle within Germany's metal workers union IG Metall and warned that the bosses’ war is likely to have dramatic consequences, namely the collapse of this huge union and the end of its status as a serious partner in industry negotiations.

The Potsdam-based Märksiche Allgemeine said whether IG-Metall head Zwickel allowed his deputy Jürgen Peters to beach himself, or whether Peters lied to Zwickel, might be significant to the union functionaries, but for most members it's no longer of any importance. What they want is a leadership that represents their interests. But after the mudslinging matches of recent days, it's clear that neither Zwickel nor Peters can do the job.

The Saarbrücker Zeitung commented on NASA’s launch of its latest MARS mission earlier this week and the six-wheeled Mars expedition rover "Opportunity’s" attempts to look for water and other signs of ancient life on the Red Planet. The paper asked if there was water on Mars until recently, the question is where is it now? When research reveals what really happened on the red planet to bring about such a sudden climate change, we will have answers to life-changing questions about the past and future of our own planet. How is it possible that Mars and the Earth, though they have a similar origin, have developed into such different entities, the paper wondered. The answer is highly significant to environmental research. Many people are asking whether we are facing a serious climate catastrophe. It’s easily worth a billion euros to find out, the paper concluded.