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Europe

German Press Review: Serbia Moving Away from Europe

European editorialists parsed the meaning of the Serbian election outcome favoring the far right, and mulled over the impact of an increasingly strong euro.

Serbia seems to be moving away from Europe following the outcome of Sunday’s election, the Financial Times Deutschland wrote. The ultra-nationalists have come away with a victory that would seem to give the reform efforts more momentum towards the right. Western governments all too eagerly gave the impression that they were willing to pour money and other aid into Serbia if the old regime were finally ousted, but failed to follow through on their promises, the paper wrote. This was largely due to a lack of financial and political means. Still, the radicals will remain a protest party without an ideological core, the paper said.

The Thüringer Allgemeine said the outcome of the election wasn’t a slap in the face for Serbia's leadership, but rather for those who were too slow to take on the task of renewal. As a consequence, the ultra-nationalists, backed by their former partner Slobodan Milosevic, have come out on top. Serbia was once plagued by a collective nationalism backed by the use of force to maintain its leadership claims, the paper said, when it could have been rebuilding its society the way Slovenia and Croatia have done. Now the country is in a rush to reach those countries' standards of living, and condemns those who have imposed sanctions on Serbia following the terrible wars.

The election result means Serbia will remain isolated for some time, wrote the Frankfurter Rundschau. Between them, the radicals and Slobodan Milosevic’s Socialist Party have the power to block any changes to the constitution, and can further destabilize Serbia’s political alignment. A disenchanted electorate -- despairing over increasing hardship and poverty and the apparent exclusion from the rest of Europe -- has been driven to vote for parties who are washing their hands of any responsibility for the current status quo, the paper said.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung took a look at the impact the euro’s new all-time high against the dollar could have for EU economies. Were the euro zone’s common currency to rise above 1.35 dollars, the paper speculated, the European Central Bank would be almost forced to intervene. Currently the ECB is content to sit back and remind worried analysts that intervention is one of the instruments at its disposal and that the current interest rate level is appropriate, the paper wrote. The daily also points to the advantages of the euro’s appreciation: Imports become cheaper and consumption is given a boost. The newspaper concluded that a strong euro is not just a threat, but also offers a host of possibilities in the new year.

On the same issue, the Lübecker Nachrichten warned against over-dramatizing the situation, after all, currency fluctuations are nothing new. Still, there are ways and means of throwing a spanner in the works of those dabbling in the currency markets and encouraging a strong euro, the paper wrote. However, interest rate posturing, as currently performed by the European Central Bank, won’t be enough to do the job, the paper said

For the Stuttgarter Nachrichten the crucial question is how far will the weak dollar push the euro? At the moment the Asian central banks are buying up dollars in order to keep their own currencies steady and thus avoid any negative effects on their exports. However, the weak dollar is above all having a detrimental effect on the euro zone countries and their exports, the paper said. The United States could counter that effect by reining in public spending and putting a damper on consumer spending. However it’s unlikely that will happen in an election year, the paper concluded.

  • Date 30.12.2003
  • Author Newslink Staff
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  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/4Uqi
  • Date 30.12.2003
  • Author Newslink Staff
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/4Uqi