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Europe

German Press Review: Is Berlin Europe's Problem?

European editorialists on Friday turned their attention to Germany after the OECD predicted slow growth for the EU's biggest market. They also weighed in on tensions between Russia and the breakaway state of Georga.

On Thursday the OECD published a report on Germany's economy, which not only sent a jolt through Berlin, but other European capitals as well. It predicted that Europe's biggest economy would not really begin to see growth and new jobs until well into 2050.

"If the euro zone is currently the weak spot of the global economic blocs, Germany is the euro zone of the euro zone," the British Financial Times quipped and wagged a finger at the out of control German benefits system, currently under discussion in Berlin. "The problem is that the existing system, despite recent reforms, encourages early retirement and fails to create enough of an incentive for the older unemployed and for workers’ spouses to look for jobs," the daily said.

Italy’s La Repubblica examined the issues surrounding the rising cost of oil in relation to the world economy. It viewed the increased demand in the Asian markets as a contributory factor to the current high prices. It gave two solutions: increase oil production or cut back growth in Asia. It then acknowledged that both solutions would have undesired negative effects on the European economy.

The president of the former Soviet republic of Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili, has ordered his forces to fire on Russian vessels, including tour boats, heading for Black Sea resorts in the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia, on the grounds that the Kremlin supports the separatists. The Russian newspaper Izvestiya responded by pointing out "Russian tourists are not worried by Saakashvili's threats," because "they travel to the resorts overland, not by sea." The Russian military newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda was more alarmed, but noted that Russia is "behaving with restraint." The problem is that "such a manifestation of patience can be taken for weakness in the Caucasus."

And finally US President George W. Bush’s latest verbal gaff was recorded on the editorial pages of several European newspapers, often, as in Britain’s Guardian without comment. A televised address to an audience of military leaders and Pentagon chiefs was recorded as saying: "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and nor do we."