German papers on Thursday focused on Germany’s stance on Iraq after Chancellor Gerhard Schröder on Wednesday renewed his firm opposition to deploying troops there, slapping down hints at a change in policy.
Berlin’s B.Z. newspaper noted that Iraq is sinking into bloody chaos, where terrorists find their breeding ground so that they can swarm out into the wide world. Europe and Germany cannot just stand by and watch that happen. Schadenfreude is a poor substitute for policies, and it’s in Germany’s interest not to let the Middle East go up in flames, allow nuclear weapons to end up in the bazaar and enable terrorists to find a basis, the paper concluded.
The Thüringer Allgemeine wrote: We can’t quibble about Schröder’s alleged line that no Bundeswehr soldiers will be sent to Iraq even for training purposes. But, as so often in politics, rigid commitments are obstructive within a very short time. And so it is quite conceivable that Peter Struck was sent out on a reconnaissance mission to find out how seriously the general public was still taking the present stance. For John Kerry is in urgent need of help, the daily said, and he is desperately trying to convince the US electorate that he can sort things out in Iraq because he’ll be able to get back on board all the allies that Bush has offended.
Another issue taken up by commentators is Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s visit to Libya on Thursday. Under the heading “Double Standards”, the taz in Berlin thought it must be a source of immense satisfaction for Colonel Moammar Gadhafi that without any political reforms in his country he has in no time been transformed from a pariah to a sought-after partner. Libyan citizens, the paper said, are still denied the most elementary human rights and opposition figures are still being jailed and tortured, but it’s to just such a system that the EU is about to pass on African refugees whose presence is not desired in a Europe that allegedly defends the values of civil society.
Several papers commented on the European Commission’s decision to take the German government to court for maintaining a law which protects carmaker Volkswagen from takeover. The Commission says the law is in breach of the EU’s single-market legislation. According to the Nordsee-Zeitung in Bremerhaven, it is one of the principles of the market economy that companies quoted on the stock exchange, as in this case car firms, can be taken over by others. That can be prevented if the directors pursue a successful business policy. Then the share price would be so high that no competitor would be unable to afford a takeover. So it is up to the firm itself, the daily pointed out, whether or not it is swallowed up. The fact that these rules do not apply to VW because its voting rights are limited is unjustifiable, the daily concluded.