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Europe

Press Review: Conflict or Compromise in Ukraine?

European editorials on Thursday pondered the next step in Ukraine, believing the crisis to have continent-wide implications.

Italy’s La Repubblica showed deep concern that civil war could break out at any moment in Ukraine. Just one little spark, the paper wrote, one piece of false information, a fistfight, or even an insult is all it would take. The paper warned that bitterness, anger and fatigue among the protesters have grown to the point where it seems almost impossible for the opposition and the authorities to keep the situation under control.

Russian daily Komsomolskaya Pravda posed a frightening question in its editorial: What happens to the other half of the voters in Ukraine whose candidate ultimately is not chosen to be president? The paper was highly skeptical. It said it doesn’t matter who wins -- Yu or Ya -- meaning Yushchenko or Yanukovich. One thing is clear: Ukraine is torn like a piece of paper and gluing it back together will be difficult. Even if that succeeds, the paper warned, that tear will be visible for a long time to come. The paper was convinced if one of the candidates is installed as the country’s new president by force, the other side will turn to guerilla tactics.

Spanish daily El Pais proposed repeating the election as the best solution. This election fraud crisis has already spread beyond Ukraine’s borders, El Pais said. It has now become a threat to relations between the European Union and Russia. Two solutions are feasible, the paper wrote: Either there is an independent recount of the election ballots, or the election should be repeated. The paper supported the second option, saying it would offer Ukrainians a way out of the dead end they are now in, thanks to their unscrupulous government.

The French daily Le Monde had a similar assessment and commented that Ukraine’s fate also affects the entire European continent. The paper asked whether Europe’s relations with Ukraine -- and for that matter, even Moldova, Chechnya and the Caucasus -- play second fiddle to ties with Moscow. Or, should Europe’s relations with Russia depend on how Moscow treats its former Soviet satellites? In other words, does the EU want a Europe divided into spheres of influence, as it was during the Cold War, or has Russia understood that pan-European cooperation depends on independence and equality? The decision, Le Monde emphasized, is now being made in Kiev.

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