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Europe

German Press Review: Europe's Forgotten Conflict

German dailies on Thursday commented on the situation in Iraq after this week's bombings and the upsurge of violence on the Balkans.

Die Welt saw the latest news from Kosovo as a reminder of the risks of abandoning the Balkans. It’s beyond dispute that this interface between West and East has tuned into a safe heaven for organized crime, radical nationalists and brutal racists. What is needed now, contended the paper, is a clear decision. If the international community is serious about the ideal of peaceful coexistence, then it should get more involved. Or it could resign and come to

the conclusion that it failed to meet the task. But Europe, observed the daily, is not yet ready to accept the consequences that would follow from this insight.

Distracted by various crises and reform debates, the war in Iraq and the war against terror, Europe has looked away for too long, wrote the Kölnische Rundschau. And now the situation escalates after a comparatively minor event. Albanians fight Serbs, who fight Albanians. In the heart of Europe, churches and mosques are in flame – a disgrace for civilized societies, criticized the paper and considered it Europe’s responsibility to act. As important as European involvement might be in the international war on terror and in Iraq, first and foremost, Europe has to solve the problems in its own backyard, wrote the Cologne-based daily.

The situation in Kosovo is bleak, observed the Stuttgarter Zeitung. The economy is down and industry is still damaged by the war. The Mafia from neighboring Albania is probably the biggest employer and the political future of the country everything but certain, the paper wrote: Enough reasons for young people to head West and settle in other countries. But visa regulations rule out this option. That’s why agitators find it easy to stir hatred against the Serbs and portray Kosovo’s independence as the only option for the future, the daily noted.

It was false to assume that after NATO’s victory in Kosovo and the fall of Yugoslav President Milosevic the Balkan powder keg would come to a rest, wrote the German tabloid Express, adding that hatred is as fresh as ever. One spark was enough to ignite it. Maybe more international peacekeepers might help contain further excess of violence – but the problems will remain the same, thought the daily.

Other German dailies commented on the situation in Iraq after Wednesday’s bomb attack on a hotel in Baghdad. One year after the Blitzkrieg there should be peace and not civil war in Iraq, reasoned the Handelsblatt in Düsseldorf: There should be a perspective for those who live there, not fear of terrorism. But you have to dig deep to find something positive to say about the situation in Iraq, stated the daily. Yet, it saw an even greater danger looming on the horizon. The fragile war alliance disintegrates quicker than could be anticipated, and – no matter what one thinks about the military mission – this is bad for Iraq, wrote the paper.