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Europe

German Press Review: Two Worlds Collide

German editorial pages on Monday concern themselves with the talks between the ruling Social Democrats and the unions. They also celebrate the end of the European Football Championships.

German editorialists were skeptical that the talks between the Social Democrats and the trade unions would be beneficial to the general public. The Ostsee-Zeitung from Rostock compared the two sides in the talks. "The unions," the paper wrote, "have committed themselves to defiance. They see the welfare state breaking down. The Social Democrats, on the other hand, are stuck to an agenda which they claim has no other alternative. And they don't tolerate the slightest criticism that says that agenda is socially unfair." But the paper’s editors opined that "neither of the two positions serves the progress of the country."

The Abendzeitung from Munich made a similar comparison. "Two worlds are colliding in the talks," it wrote. "The Social Democrats under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder are looking to heal the country -- with reforms that have come too late and are badly communicated," it wrote. "The unions, meanwhile still dream of an old-fashioned welfare state." The paper predicted that "this can't go well -- what we need are smart people who can put together the unavoidable with the equitable." But the commentary ended on a positive note, with the editors saying, "there are such people on both sides."

The Süddeutsche Zeitung from Munich said the unions have two alternatives. "Do they want to be militant," it asked, "or do they want to diversify?" The interests of the union members, the paper wrote, "lie in diversifying, but the short-term interests of the organization might make militancy tempting."

Meanwhile, the Mannheimer Morgen wrote: "It's the opposition conservatives who are really profiting from the confrontation between the Social Democrats and the unions." To the paper "it almost seems like a part of the unions wants to provoke a change in power in the government, so that they can mobilize people on the streets against even more 'unsocial’ conservative policies."

German papers celebrated the game of soccer and the historic victory of Greece at the Euro 2004 championships.

The Leipziger Volkszeitung pointed out all the benefits the tournament gave to the host country, Portugal. "It modernized its infrastructure, it built new stadiums for €800 million, it sold 97 percent of tickets, it made a profit and the whole thing was a great advertisement for tourism," it wrote. "Equally important," the paper wrote, "the security was good -- all the way down to the last English hooligan, it was friendly and harmonious."

Die Welt from Berlin quoted Otto Rehagel, the German coach of the Greek national team. Rehagel said "figure out what you can do, and do it as fully as possible." The paper opined that Germans should follow this advice, and "become aware once more of their abilities and their virtues." And "it's particularly important now," the paper’s editors opined, "when ermans are so insecure about so many areas of life -- not just in sports"