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Europe

German Press Review: G8 Summit Misses a Good Opportunity

Germany's newspapers divided their attention between the U.S. failure to set up stable political structures in Iraq and the G8's failure to deal with the world's economic problems.

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Commenting on the United States postponing the set up of an interim administration in Iraq, the Süddeutsche Zeitung said: "Now the Americans are realizing that reconstruction is a long term project, and the Iraqis are realizing that they have been lied to." The real scandal is not the occupation itself, the paper argued. But it is the haphazard way, in which Washington is leading the reconstruction process as well as the cynical thoughtlessness with which it tries to find a way around its duties as an occupier. "The Bush administration wanted the war, now it has to guarantee security, provide for the Iraqi people and set up stable political structures," the Munich paper maintained.

The Berliner Zeitung criticized the decision of the United States to cancel the planned national conference aimed at selecting an Iraqi authority saying, "Now Washington wants to hand pick an advisory council to support the occupying power." The U.S. administration, whose representatives regularly present themselves as missionaries of democracy and pluralism, observed the paper, seems to be afraid that a national conference would not bring about the results they want.

The G8 summit in Evian also attracted the attention of many German papers. Die Welt suggested that the departure of U.S. President George W. Bush to the Middle East before the end of the meeting showed that the Americans don’t attach great importance to the meeting anymore. The paper said, "It is becoming increasingly clear that the G8 summits cannot be continued like this. The summit should get back to concentrating on economic subjects. And it should try to mirror the world wide economic balance of the 21st century." The Berlin-based daily suggested "it would make sense to have the growing European Union speak with only one voice and to include China, as well as Brazil and India, into the circle permanently."

The Stuttgarter Zeitung maintained that the summit had missed a good opportunity to agree on important issues. "The state leaders couldn’t present proof that they have gotten on the same track again economically. The demonstration of handshakes and group photos can’t obscure the fact that there are still big differences in fundamental questions," the paper commented, concluding: "French President Chirac had planned to stage the summit as a global forum. But that has been proven to be bluff."

The Leipziger Volkszeitung, however, also saw a positive sign emerging from the summit, as Africa finally got some attention from the G8 states. The promise of the industrialized nations to help fight AIDS in Africa and build up an African peacekeeping and intervention force are important steps, the paper wrote, concluding with a reference to the current situation in the Congo: "The massacres in the Democratic Republic of Congo show how urgently such a force is needed."