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Schröder's Dilemma

Germany's major and regional newspaper editors conclude that German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder must choose between internal peace and external credibility in his policies for a postwar Iraq.


The best of the German press, digested for you daily.

The Financial Times Deutschland takes a look at the German position on a possible role in postwar Iraq. The request by Poland that German and Danish troops should help it patrol Iraq may have been unexpected, the paper says, but it made one thing very clear: Germany must take a fundamental decision. Either it is ready to take military responsibility or it is not. But the paper predicts that it will be difficult for Gerhard Schröder to tell the public that German troops will be actively involved in Iraq given that the country was one of the most vocal opponents of the war. "The chancellor will have to choose between internal peace and external credibility," the paper concludes.

Also commenting on the situation in Iraq the Rheinpfalz newspaper in Ludwigshafen predicts that the United States will have no other choice but to use the former elite of the country in the rebuilding process. In order to restore security in the country, to build a working administration and to found a political decision-making body, the United States must fall back on cadres of the Baath Party, conservative clergymen and tribal chieftains, even if that may contradict their own demands.

After the release of the unemployment figures for April many German papers concentrate on the country's deteriorating economic situation.

The Bayreuth-based Nordbayerischer Kurier sees Germany on a dangerous downward trend, stating that the new figures are the equivalent of political bankruptcy for the government. "More than 500,000 more unemployed people than last year -- it couldn’t be worse," the paper says, putting the blame on fickle German politics that have failed to implement necessary reforms. "What is needed most now is new perspectives," the paper says, adding: "The sound and well thought out plan for Germany has not been written yet."

The Mindener Tagblatt is also unsure if Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s "Agenda 2010" -- his plan for economic and social reforms -- could really help reduce Germany’s massive unemployment. It does point out, however, that it’s the only plan that has a chance of being realized. The new figures should be seen as an urgent argument for starting the reform process immediately, the paper says, before asking: Must the situation worsen still further? Is an unemployment rate of 11 percent not bad enough?

The Bavarian Münchener Abendzeitung says now is the time to confront the bitter truth and to draw clear conclusions from it. The paper sees two important aspects: One: Germany’s social security system is about to collapse. This is why cuts must be made. And two: Germany urgently needs money. There are two possibilities of getting money, either to go into massive dept or to impose new taxes, the paper analyzes. Creating new debts, however, cannot be a longterm solution, it states. Therefore, Germans will have to face higher taxes, even if that may be hard for them, writes the paper from Munich.