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German Press Review: Schröder and Berlusconi Make Nice

Germany’s newspaper editorials on Monday commented on the summit between German Chancellor Schröder and Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi, who were supposed to meet at the opera in Verona until Berlusconi backed out.

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Best friends...honest.

Picking up on the weekend-summit between German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Verona, the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger said the opera “Carmen” was worth seeing. But, the paper wrote, the parallel love-song between Germany and Italy was much better. After a slow first act without one of the main actors, Berlusconi backed-out of the opera-date, the star duo, Schröder and Berlusconi came out loud and proud the paper continued. All problems solved, we’re the best of friends – a perfect happy ending. But, the paper observed, it was all just a well-crafted show.

Bonn’s General-Anzeiger editorial shared a similar opinion: Body language before a camera reveals more than words. The paper noted Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder don’t like each other, they couldn’t even make eye contact. There’s more warmth between Schröder and EU President Romano Prodi who sat alone together at the opera in Verona. The paper said Berlusconi’s last minute cancellation as a direct affront to both of them. The paper said the communication between Berlusconi and Schröder is now wafer thin.

Other German editorials were critical of the Rürup Commission report that will officially be released on Thursday. The commission is in charge of figuring out how to save the country’s ailing pension system. The Nürnberger Nachrichten said both the young and old generations will have to make concessions in order save the pension system. But, the paper wrote, they have to be socially balanced ones. Raising the retirement age to 67 is an illusion if the present trend of retiring early is allowed to continue. The paper said what Germany needs is either an economic boom or an attractive employment policy – something the commission is working on. However, these proposals still have to be approved by the politicians concluded the paper. Finally, the Frankfurter Allgemeine commented on the situation in Iraq. The Americans don’t want to share commanding power in Iraq, but desperately want troop reinforcement from other countries. However, that all depends on a new UN mandate the paper noted. For some it seems like a belated attempt to justify the attack. But, the paper said, a more prominent UN role in Iraq won’t be a solve-all solution. For many, especially terrorists, UN soldiers would be seen as an extension of the US occupation. The paper concluded that many Iraqis still remember the UN as the body that imposed crippling sanctions against the country.