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Europe

German Press Review: Focus on Italy Detracts from Domestic Problems

Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s decision to cancel his summer holiday in Italy due to repeated insults made at Germans continued to receive press this Friday. Did he do the right thing

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Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has changed his vacation plans.

Berlin’s Die Welt newspaper wrote that German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder can definitely rely on his political instinct when in hot water. Temporarily, Germany has forgotten about its domestic problems and seems more interested in where its leader will be vacationing. Two-thirds of all Germans applauded his decision to shun Italy in the wake of rude comments made about the Germans by Italian leaders. But the paper viewed Schröder’s move as a way of drawing attention away from the actual problems he faces at home – high unemployment, a staggering economy and criticism of his proposed tax cuts.

The Neue Ruhr/Neue Rhein Zeitung commented that it takes very little to stir nationalistic resentment in Europe. All that is necessary is a crazy, nonsense-spewing Italian junior minister, his arrogant boss who supports him, but who himself has no political maturity and a German chancellor who doesn’t show much sovereignty either way.

Frankfurt’s Rundschau turned to German poet Robert Gernhardt about the issue. "Schröder should have said, ‘I will not allow one single Italian to spoil my love for Italy’," Gernhardt said. That phrase would have had more worth than a vacation at home in Hanover.

Meanwhile, the Hamburger Abendblatt commented that the situation in Iraq was starting to bring back eerie reminders of the Vietnam war and the problems the U.S. encountered there. The world’s strongest military power now seems to be looking to its "old Europe" to help it out of an entanglement since bringing democracy to Iraq is proving harder than originally planned, it wrote. The paper goes on to say that America is falling into a trap with its so-called promotion of democracy. Sovereignty among the Iraqi people does not mean an about face to democracy, said the paper, but rather a landslide victory for the Shiites whose radical leaders are not only anti-American, but also anti-democratic. On top of that, the paper added, serious consequences may be unraveling for the United States, since the Bush administration deceived the American people and the world over its motives for going to war.