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Europe

German Press Review: Oil Dependency Makes West Vulnerable

German papers continued to comment on the attacks in Saudi Arabia over the weekend. The price of oil and the prospects for renewable energy also made top headlines as the Renewables Conference kicks off in Bonn.

The Munich Abendszeitung regarded the weekend terror attack in Saudi Arabia which claimed 22 lives as an attempt to hurt the West by hindering its oil supply. "The terrorists responsible for the bloodbath chose their target carefully and hit a sensitive nerve," it wrote. By attempting to destabilize or topple the regime in Saudi Arabia and trigger an oil crisis, the terrorists are "hitting at the West's very foundations," the paper commented. It said "al Qaeda terrorists may be brutal and ruthless, but they are not brainless and stupid -- that's what makes them so dangerous."

The Berliner Zeitung looked at the timing of the attack, and said it was "no coincidence" that it happened just after the Saudi government announced it wants to increase oil production and just before a conference of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meets. The United States wants to keep the price of oil down, the paper observed, and the Saudis want to remain one of Washington's essential partners. "All this being the case, one has to fear that the terrorists will continue to attack the United States and its allies," the paper concluded.

The mass-circulation Bild Zeitung said rising oil prices should also be German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s number one concern. Prices at the pump in Germany have been skyrocketing, and the Hamburg newspaper fumed over the financial effects on the country’s drivers just before the summer holidays. The Bild argued that the government should issue a temporary suspension of the environmental taxes added to the price of fuel. "That would really be in the interests of a large part of the population," it maintained and suggested the move as a good political tactic for the chancellor’s Social Democrats.

The Hamburger Morgenpost pondered what events really make the world sit up and take notice. The paper recalled that the 800,000 killed in the genocide in Rwanda didn’t do it, nor is the current civil war in Sudan really getting much attention, despite more than a million starving people. The paper moralized that the only event that really seems to "traumatize our oil-guzzling world is four holy warriors in a foreigners' hotel in Saudi Arabia," a view it criticized as revealing "the defective valve in our heart diseased world economy."

Bonn’s General Anzeiger took a different approach on energy issues in its editorial and focused on the opening of the Renewables 2004 conference in its city."Whether it’s because of the ever increasing oil prices or the instability in the Gulf region, the enormous interest in the Bonn conference on renewal energies shows that this meeting comes at the right

Time," it stated. The paper was convinced there’s a good chance the discussions will bring concrete action on alternative forms of energy, and hoped that for once the trailblazers will outnumber those with misgivings. It suggested the conference could be the beginning of a reversal in energy policy, the necessity of which cannot be seriously doubted.