German Press Review: UN Needs to Take Active Role in Iraq | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 23.07.2003
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German Press Review: UN Needs to Take Active Role in Iraq

German newspapers on Wednesday called for a more active role for the UN in Iraq, lamented the continued ETA violence in Spain, and criticized state "hand outs" for German farmers.


The humanitarian situation in Iraq has improved little since the end of fighting in May.

Tuesday's session of the United Nations Security Council prompted some German papers to look at the possibility of the world body taking a more active role in the Iraq conflict. The Freie Presse in Chemnitz said the U.N. still bears a deep-seated frustration at being so poorly treated by the United States earlier in the year over intervention in Iraq. The first Security Council meeting addressing the post-war situation in Iraq changed little and no matter how the dispute over old and new U.N. resolutions plays out, it will not improve the plight of the people of Iraq, certainly not immediately, the paper concluded.

The Mitteldeutsche Zeitung in Halle commented that sending peacekeepers to Iraq is a dangerous business and every government politician, when weighing the pros and cons, will inevitably conclude that one can easily lose far more than one could hope to gain. The call for a U.N. mandate is a pretext not get involved, the paper stated. But it is also a useful implement for applying more diplomatic pressure for the U.N. to take on a more significant role in Iraq. The paper cautioned that France and Russia could open up the split in the Security Council still further by confronting the United States with demands it can under no circumstance accept.

On Tuesday, two bombs attributed to the militant Basque group ETA, exploded in two Mediterranean coastal resorts in Spain, injuring at least 12 people. The General Anzeiger published in Bonn says there have been twelve series of terror attacks since ETA declared tourism to be a target in 1979. In the meantime, the separatist guerilla organization has come no closer to its goal of achieving an independent Basque homeland, the paper noted. On the contrary, recent police operations have left ETA weaker than it has been for a long time. But an end to the terror is not in sight.

Germany's highest court has ruled that a former Indian national could be extradited to India to face bank fraud charges, despite concerns about torture in prisons there. The Rheinphalz criticized the German court's ruling saying the man should only have been extradited if the possibility of torture could be completely ruled out. It added that a ruling along those lines would have sent out the right message. Evidently, one needs to remind people here in Germany that torture is totally unacceptable both for a democracy, and in a democracy, the southwestern regional paper concluded.

The German government this week has said it is considering helping farmers hit by the summer drought. It would also seek extra financial help from the European Union. Following the "flood of the century," we now have the "summer of the century" the Neue Rhein Zeitung observed. Cries from the farmers' lobby for state hand-outs can already be heard and the farmers federation is bandying about a figure for damages of a billion euros. But hold your horses, the paper wrote, any loss in earnings or crops is far from clear. And the catastrophe of national dimensions that has to come to pass before the government can sanction emergency payments to the needy simply hasn't arrived. Our southern neighbors are far worse hit by the drought than we are, the paper stated. They surely have a right to European Union assistance before we do.

The Tagesspiegel in Berlin managed to make a connection, albeit rather a tenuous one, between the Tour de France and the malaise afflicting the German economy. Mass unemployment and the economic downturn are making us revise our rating in the league table, the paper argued. Neither Chancellor Schröder's government nor the opposition conservatives can offer any sort of self-sustaining vision for the future. Jan Ullrich enters the vacuum as a sort of substitute. He's demonstrated that there's always a second chance.

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