Political developments in Iraq led the commentary pages of most German newspapers on Thursday, with many eyeing the U.S.'s new draft UN resolution with cautious optimism.
The Berliner Zeitung looks at the new draft United Nations resolution on Iraq put forward by the United States and Britain. The draft sets a limit of sorts on the stay of the U.S.-led multinational force. A previously open-ended mandate is now one that will end once Iraq drafts a new constitution and elects a government under that law, something scheduled late in 2005 or early 2006. "The battle over the UN resolution is an attempt to limit the power of the United States by diplomatic means," the paper writes, adding that the European push for greater sovereignty to be handed over to the Iraqis on June 30 sounds like a good idea, but also requires that the UN give the U.S. some breathing space. According to the paper, Iraq’s interim government first has to show that "it has the legitimacy and the ability to unite, free and govern the country," before the US hands over all control.
Berlin's Die Welt welcomes the increased chance of cooperation between Europe, Britain and the United States on Iraq. "Finally some good news," writes the paper, which is also pleased by Germany’s promise to help the Iraqi leadership. The paper warns that the transfer of sovereignty to an interim government is unlikely to put an end to the violence in the Iraq. It sums up by saying: "The Iraqi leadership are going to remain dependent on the Americans."
The Südkurier from Constance also has something to say about Berlin’s offer to assist the Iraqi government with economic and political reconstruction. The paper complains that Chancellor Schröder's help offer remains vague. It certainly won’t be troops, the paper notes. At the same time, the editors write, the German government should do as much as it can. The paper suggests that by taking action between now and the point where the Iraqis start developing trade ties, Germany "might be able to make them forget that, once upon a time, it left it to the USA and its allies to free the country from Saddam Hussein."
The fate of Germany's flagship bank, Deutsche Bank, also filled considerable columns inches Thursday. The business daily Handelsblatt reflects on the dressing down Deutsche Bank shareholders gave to the company’s management at the bank's annual meeting in Frankfurt on Wednesday. Shareholders are unhappy about Deutsche Bank’s clumsy handling of the float of Postbank, the bank connected to Germany’s post office. At one point Deutsche Bank, Germany’s biggest private bank, wanted to buy Postbank, and then changed its mind. Handelsblatt says that Josef Ackermann, Deutsche Bank's chief executive, "couldn’t really rebut the accusations of weak leadership." Ackerman refused to say anything about the Postbank row on the grounds of client confidentiality, and the paper concludes that "shareholders must certainly have gone home feeling unsatisfied." After the meeting they were no clearer about why Deutsche Bank was no longer interested in buying Postbank than before they arrived.