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German Press Review: Riyadh Bombing Germany's Wake-Up Call

The bombing in Saudi Arabia sent shockwaves through Germany as well, wrote some German editorialists. Others turned their attention to massive strikes taking place in Austria and France.


Munich's Abendzeitung says the bomb attack in Riyadh shows that Osama bin Laden's followers haven't been beaten. "Since September 11th, al Qaeda has committed five large acts of terror," the paper writes. "The war in Afghanistan couldn't stop them, neither could the war in Iraq. The world is learning that you can't fight terrorism with armies. Solid police work can help, so can policies that solve conflicts between people and religions instead of inflaming them."

The Berliner Kurier tabloid calls the attack in Riyadh a bloody alarm signal. "Nothing was left to chance," it writes. "The location and timing of the attack shortly before Colin Powell's visit was calculated by ice-cold terrorists. The message to the Americans was clear: we haven't been defeated." The paper thinks Germany's security officials must be on edge now, because Powell is coming to Germany on Friday.

And on that point, Berlin's Die Welt thinks that Germans still haven't quite internalized the consequences of attacks such as the one in Riyadh. "Despite the bombing in Djerba in April last year, most Germans still believe that they live on a privileged island," the paper writes, adding: "It's time that we wake up."

Dresden's Neuste Nachrichten comments on Tuesday's strike action in France and Austria to protest pension reforms. "In Germany too, we've known for years that the pension system is close to collapse," the paper writes. "And in all three countries, the politicians have for too long swept the problem under the rug to avoid upsetting the voters." But the paper says the time for such tactics is over. "The French and Austrian leaders now face the same dilemma as Chancellor Schröder -- they have to push reforms through, even if it means putting their political survival at risk."

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung comments that on Black Tuesday, French Prime Minister Jean Pierre Raffarin learned that a readiness to compromise in negotiations isn't going to satisfy the unions in his country. "Teachers, postal workers, public transport workers and civil servants of all kinds don't want to work two and a half years longer before they can retire," says the FAZ. It points out that the conservative government has a comfortable majority in both parliamentary chambers, which means the pension reform should travel the path to becoming law without too much trouble. Still, the paper is eager to see how Raffarin performs as a crisis manager.