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Europe

The New Cold War?

Newspapers in Europe's capitals debate the outcome of Argentine elections, calls for the Irish Republican Army to permanently renounce violence and a controversial summit in Brussels.

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The European press, parsed and pared.

Argentina’s deadlocked election and the impending runoff between former president Carlos Menem and regional governor Nestor Kirchner found a spot in virtually every major European newspaper on Tuesday. The Financial Times pointed out that both candidates were "associated with the discredited machine politics of Peronism."

"For a country disillusioned with politics, a second-round runoff between two rival candidates of the centrist Peronist party must seem an unappealing prospect," the paper says.

Switzerland's Neue Züricher Zeitung echoed the prediction that anti-Menem sentiment will likely carry Kirchner to victory in the runoff, which is scheduled for May 18. "Menem failed to win in decisive provinces," wrote the paper, "while Kirchner has support where it counts -- most notably, Buenos Aires."

In Britain attention has turned to efforts by Washington and London to convince the Irish Republican Army to renounce violence once and for all. The Independent points out that even those advocating closer ties between Northern Ireland and London are facing a difficult time. "All the indicators of opinion within the Unionist community tell the same story: of a weary and growing disaffection among Unionists," the paper wrote.

The conservative French daily Le Figaro, meanwhile, welcomed British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s warning that Germany and France risked sparking a new cold war between the U.S. and Europe with their mini-summit in Brussels. "It’s not a coincidence that Blair chose the day of this summit to espouse his views on the future of Europe," the newspaper wrote. "Blair made it quite clear that he does not see Europe as a rival to the USA." The paper says Europe’s unwillingness to embrace change has caused it to fall behind the United States in the years after the Cold War. "The European mechanism is defective," the paper opined.

Luxembourg’s Luxemburger Wort also attacked Germany’s failure to break free of the paternalistic economic model that worked so well in the 1960s and '70s. "Just as France turned away from the reform policies of Alain Juppé in the fall of 1995 and languished in the socialist abyss of Lionel Jospin, the German voters proved themselves in the last federal election unable to make a clear and far from radical shift in the form of opposition candidate Stoiber."