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Europe

German Press Review: Grim Climax

Many German editorials on Thursday reacted to the taking of up to 400 hostages at a Russian school near Chechnya on Wednesday, which bore the signs of a Chechen rebel operation.

The German daily Leipziger Volkszeitung called the North-Caucasian policy of Russian President Vladimir Putin a fiasco. Chechnya has been and will be Russia’s central crisis with the hostage-taking of innocent schoolchildren and teachers as its temporary grim climax, the paper wrote and concluded that if the development in the area is not going to be stopped soon, nobody will be able to end the crisis.

The Stuttgarter Zeitung held the view that Putin himself has got the key to the problem and that he has also got the power to end the bloodshed. But the paper observed that the Russian president stays on his strict course because he wants to keep control over the oil pipelines in southern Russia and because he intends to make an example of Chechnya in order to prevent other regions from trying to attain autonomy from Russia.

Meanwhile, the Bonn-based General-Anzeiger wrote that it would be too easy to blame Putin alone for Wednesday’s tragedy at a Russian school. The daily is convinced there are many others who participate of the chaos in the region, such as racketeers and clan leaders, corrupt politicians and Muslim fanatics. The paper pointed out that some people believe it would be best to grant Chechnya more autonomy. But the paper asked whether that would really end the problem.

The Berlin daily Neues Deutschland claimed that the new wave of terror in Russia will be grist for the mill of the US Republicans, who are commemorating Sept. 11 at their national convention in New York and, according to the paper, are at the same time glorifying their war president, George W. Bush -- even though Bush himself has only recently stated that the fight against terrorism cannot be won. At least not with an ongoing anti-terror war, preventive strikes or the export of democracy with the finger on the trigger of a loaded gun, the paper concluded.

The Handelsblatt in Düsseldorf agreed, writing: “Whoever answers terror with military violence will cause bloodshed." The policy of the iron hand has led to escalation in all three major world conflicts: in Iraq, Israel and now, again, in Russia, the paper wrote and asked the world community to not neglect its duty. Especially Germany, as one of Russia’s closest political partners should not accept the situation without a word of protest. Instead, the German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder should talk openly with his Russian friend Putin and offer his co-operation to find a solution to the Chechen conflict, noted the paper. In closing, the Munich-based tz agreed with that criticism, writing that politicians such as Chancellor Gerhard Schröder encourage the Russian President in his hardline stance if they neglect to critically address the Chechen conflict.

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