European papers are looking at the signing of the EU's accession treaty in Rome, which paves the way for 10 new members from the former Iron Curtain. The arrest of the Palestinian Mohammed Abu Abbas also leads coverage.
Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung opines that the regime in Damascus has only one option: “to declare it doesn’t support terrorism, is not helping Saddam (Hussein’s) henchmen, and does not possess weapons of mass destruction. Syrian President Baschar el Assad seems to be pragmatic enough, the paper asserts. If he comes clean now, he’ll have the right to take a stand on issues like the push to rid the entire Middle East, including Israel, of weapons of mass destruction."
The Dutch paper Trouw also focuses on Syria in its commentary, saying: “Following Iraq, the temptation could be great to attack other so-called villainous countries. But one should advise the U.S. against that. The war in Iraq has been won, but peace is still a long way off. And a military victory for the U.S. in Iraq does not necessarily translate into a valid political strategy for the Middle East.” The editors further opine: “An expansion of the war into Syria would surely result in defeat for the U.S. in the Arab world.”
France’s Libération pleads on its editorial pages for quick help from the United Nations in reconstructing Iraq. It writes that “Bush should spread the costs and risks of reconstructing postwar Iraq across several countries, so he should make amends with the U.N. so that it can oversee transforming the Iraqi government. Further, the paper writes, “Jacques Chirac has declared his belief in American pragmatism and made clear attempts at the EU summit in Athens to convince other Europeans, starting with Tony Blair and, by association, George Bush of his sincerity. Libération also writes that “Chirac has said France does not want to mobilize the U.N. against the United States.”
Britain’s Independent comments on the arrest of the Palestinian Mohammed Abu Abbas, saying: “It’s the U.S. military’s own fault that, in Iraq, they look a little silly by calling their arrest of the Palestinian extremist Abu Abbas a fantastic success. His presence in Baghdad has hardly been a surprise and no one really considers him a threat anymore.” And, the paper notes: “His arrest is neither a major coup in the war against terror, nor evidence of Saddam Hussein’s connection to terrorism. Nonetheless, Abu Abbas is a murderer and terrorist, and should be deported to Italy to pay for his crimes.”
With a view toward the EU summit in Athens, Berlin's Tagespiegel describes the European Union's eastward expansion as “bold and courageous: 10 states, 75 million citizens. The largest common market in the world has just been created, making the EU bigger in terms of population and more economically powerful than the United States. But no prizes are due for speed and efficiency," the paper concludes. "Almost 15 years will have passed since the collapse of communism, when on the first of May 2004 the accession takes effect.”
The Italian paper La Stampa also comments on EU expansion saying that “along with the congratulations come the problems, which no one is denying. The main problem is the Euro, the common currency that not all the EU countries share. With the 10 new countries in the EU, those not using the euro will outnumber those using the currency. This will make coordinating the economy much more difficult,” says the paper.