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Europe

German Press Review: Unease over Berlusconi

Germany's papers on Tuesday expressed unease over the prospect of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi taking up the EU presidency for six months.

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Controversial Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi will represent the EU for the rest of the year.

The conservative daily Die Welt said there is great unease about Silvio Berlusconi. For the next six months a man is taking over the EU presidency, who is more controversial

than any of his predecessors. But the EU probably won’t interfere with domestic Italian issues, wrote Die Welt. More worrying for Europe is that Berlusconi doesn’t have a concept for his presidency, which makes it is justified to believe, that he will use the next six months to boost his own ego even more, the paper concluded

The Stuttgarter Zeitung criticised Europe’s way of dealing with Silvio Berlusconi. Europe is a community of values, it wrote. If a major country in Europe breaches those common values, then Europe has to react. Berlusconi and the Italian voters must receive the signal that they cannot get away with violating basic rules without facing the consequences. The paper opined Europe failed pathetically in the Iraq question and now is failing again where itself is concerned.

The Fuldaer Zeitung said Berlusconi just managed to get rid of his corruption charges before taking over the EU presidency. An eccentric president is a great burden for the EU in these times when some important decisions have to be made. But at least there’s one good thing about it, wrote the paper. The attention focused on Berlusconi will show EU citizens at least one advantage of the new EU constitution – the abolition of the rotating EU presidency.

Some German newspapers on Tuesday also commented on the peace process in the middle east. The Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten wrote Hamas wants the destruction of Israel. The declaration of a ceasefire only means that the weapons will rest, but not disappear. Terror remains a real threat and that Israel doesn’t want to cooperate with a terrorist organization is obvious. But the occupation and humiliation of the Palestinian people is also real. If Hamas cannot be destroyed because of its strong social commitment, why not transform it into a political wing?, asked the paper.

The Westfälischer Anzeiger said it is like a miracle -- all of a sudden an Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire seems possible. But the miracle comes after both sides have realized that 33 months of bloodshed have not brought them any further. The willingness to end violence is a painful result of that.