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German Press Review: No Solidarity in Kosovo

German newspapers this Monday consider the news of the massacre of 49 Iraqi army recruits, and also look back at the weekend's elections in Kosovo.

Commenting on the statement by US Secretary of State Colin Powell that the White House needs to "better explain" its policy on Iraq to an increasingly sceptical international public, the Badische Zeitung from Freiburg wished the American politician "good luck." The paper said the Bush administration needs to explain why the supposedly best army in the world cannot prevent such horrific mass murders like those of the 49 Iraqi army recruits at the weekend. "How can it be," the daily wondered, "that there are still so many weapons and explosives floating around Iraq that the occupying forces have no control over?"

Turning to the weekend's elections in the UN administered province of Kosovo, the Frankfurter Rundschau wrote that the population voted for their new parliament peacefully and in an orderly fashion, which is good news. But the Serbian minority boycotted the polls, and that is bad news. Five years after the end of the war in the region there is still no feeling of solidarity among the population there. However the paper noted that perhaps the only hope for a solution to this division is the common desire by both ethnic-Albanians and Serbians to be part of the EU community.

The Handelsblatt from Düsseldorf agreed, adding a transition solution to independence could mean Kosovo being made a territory under the trusteeship of the European Union. "But," warned the paper, "after the violence in March this year, the Albanian politicians along with a majority of the Albanians have learnt they need to take responsibility for the Serbians if they don't want to jeopardize their own European future."

"First the positive results," began the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, "a majority of voters in Kosovo have voted for the moderate Albanian parties. This indicates an awareness by many people that revenge politics against the Serbian population will not further their independence cause. However the negative news was the boycott of many Serbian voters who know that they have little influence on the province still administered by the UN and dependent on EU funds."

While the leaders of the winning Albanian party are celebrating, wrote Bonn's General Anzeiger, they hide the unpleasant truths of the weekend's elections; the low partcipation of the Albanian population, the boycott by the Serbian population and the great dissatisfaction with the situation in the province with an almost 70 percent unemployment rate, and an unstable security situation.

The Berliner Zeitung was equally sceptical, writing that the local politicians have established themselves comfortably within the situation. "They decide on the allocation of the billions of euros in EU taxpayers' money which for years has been trickling away without any improvement in reconstruction efforts within the province," the paper said.

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