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Europe

German Press Review: Europe Should Play Bigger Role in Iraq

Germany's editorials started off the week by taking a look at the situation in Iraq in light of the upcoming transfer of sovereignty. They also weighed in on the results of the weekend’s Eurovision song contest.

The Mannheimer Morgen was of the opinion that the upcoming presidential elections are the real reason U.S. President George W. Bush hasn’t fired long since fired his defense chief Donald Rumsfeld. Letting him go would be seen as a sign of weakness in the Bush administration, the paper said. Keeping him also helps protect Bush, it added, because if the Secretary of Defense is no longer in office, Bush would come into the line of fire. The paper wrote that Bush’s praise for Rumsfeld sounds hypocritical.

"Washington’s moral authority in the greater Middle East has been destroyed over the Iraqi prisoner torture scandal," observed the Handeslblatt. "Compounded by back and forth policies, along with conflicting statements about how long troops will stay in Iraq leaves one with the impression that George Bush’s government no longer has any idea of what it’s doing." The business daily argued that it is now time for Europe to step in. "It needs to get active and offer an alternative to America’s washed-up Middle East polices."

Referring to the latest statements from the U.S. Secretary of State, the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung said of course Collin Powell would say that Washington will accept an Islamic state in Iraq. However, it warned, that does not mean that the Bush administration has actually changed plans. "It’s just trying to appear more flexible in the hope of weakening resistance in Iraq. But the chances of that happening were always slim and are now next to none following the Iraqi abuse scandal," the paper noted. It suggested that damage could be limited if some people high up in office were to take responsibility, but sadly, it concluded, "Washington doesn’t seem to have grasped this concept."

Other German papers turned their attention to the weekend’s Eurovision song contest in Istanbul, where musicians from 24 countries competed for the most points from the European public through call-in votes. This year the Ukraine took top place and will host the event next year.

The Frankfurter Neue Presse commented on the acts, saying "even though Germany’s Max came in eighth with his sit down bar-stool act, it’s obvious that Europeans want something different, "namely colorful, scantily clad performers who sound sort of ethnic." The paper noted that it was mostly countries from southern and eastern Europe that notched up the points with neighbors and former war opponents awarding each other top billing. The paper pointed out that "old Europe" doesn’t even seem to be in the running. "Political voting was obvious this year," it said, "but that’s nothing new for the annual contest."

However, the Stuttgarter Nachrichten started off by saying it didn't want to appear like a "sore loser or anything," but it regretted that the political aspect had a "shattering affect on the outcome. Only three West and North European countries made it into the top ten spots." The daily said its readers should consider the broader significance of the results.

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