German Press Review: Promises to Afghanistan Must be Kept | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 02.04.2004
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German Press Review: Promises to Afghanistan Must be Kept

German newspapers on Friday reflected on the end of the international Afghanistan conference in Berlin and also considered a German government plan to penalize companies that didn't provide enough internships.

With an eye on the Third International Afghanistan Conference that concluded in Berlin on Thursday, Bonn's General Anzeiger said that those taking part were generous with their promises, but now the promises have to be kept. The daily warned that, “The community of nations can’t afford failure in Afghanistan any more than it can in Iraq.”

The Süddeutsche Zeitung in Munich was worried about the drug problem: “It won’t be enough just to set poppy fields on fire. Only when the power structures in the country are broken up, when the farmers have a secure alternative without having to fear the anger of their drug barons, can the reconstruction of the economy begin," the paper wrote. " But without a change in the economy is the experiment in nation-building doomed to failure,” it asked pessimistically.

The Halle-based Mitteldeutsche Zeitung saw the issue in broader terms. "Afghanistan is like a laboratory. And the experiment is to try to replace a terror regime with a democratic state," the paper wrote. "If it doesn’t work here, the whole concept will have failed. And no-one can risk that," the daily cautioned. "The credibility of the United Nations and the western world are at stake. But if it works, there might just be a chance for international solutions in Iraq too," it concluded.

Away from international issues, some German papers focused on a decision by the German government to introduce a law, which will impose a levy on any company which doesn’t play its part in providing traineeships for young people.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung was skeptical of the plan. “The worthy objective of providing every young person with a range of training places to choose from justifies anything,” said the paper and listed some of the

things which it believes will come in with the new law: “new expenses for insolvent local councils and overburdened health insurers, further reductions in tax income, and a substantial bureaucracy. That’s all too high a price to pay for a project with so little chance of success,” the paper commented.. “Not even the people in the coalition believe seriously that compulsion is the cure for the German training system.”

The tabloid Berliner Kurier didn't agree. "The young are optimistic they should remain so," the paper wrote. "Girls and boys have a right to a future. The training levy is about people, not only about money. The fact is that business tries as best it can to get around the obligation to offer training, but it’s happy to take people who are well qualified," it opined. " That might be right, from a business point of view, but those who don’t offer training will have to

accept it when the state also thinks like a business, and imposes the levy," the paper concluded.