European Press Review: Conflict Zones | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 19.10.2004
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European Press Review: Conflict Zones

Tuesday's European papers concentrated on a controversial US request that Britain move troops to help the US in its sector in Iraq. They also wrote about strike action at car maker Opel in Germany.

The Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung agreed. It said that Opel’s reputation will suffer greatly and the strike will cost the firm and its parent, GM, dearly. Because of this, the paper predicted wage cuts and job losses regardless. In this crisis there are only losers, it wrote.

Likewise, Italy’s La Repubblica commented on the German Opel crisis. More and more clouds are gathering over the German economy, the paper wrote. It said that the situation at Opel, as well as the mismanagement crisis at German retail chain Karstadt, are creating a bad atmosphere in society.

Meanwhile The Guardian of London commented on a US request that Britain move 650 troops into the US sector of Iraq, south of Baghdad. The paper said that while British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon has many talents, acting is not one of them. Hoon, wrote the paper, "claimed it remains an open question"...But everyone who heard him will have assumed from the tone of his voice...that troops will shortly be on the move...and that British involvement in Iraq will have entered a new and unsettling phase."

The Financial Times of London took a similar stance. It described the current US practice in Iraq as "indiscriminate and disproportionate air power against dense urban areas." That -- the paper continued -- is not something British troops, with a different military culture and rules of engagement, should be part of.

France’s Le Monde meanwhile cited the political dilemma which Britain now faces. It wrote that British Prime Minister Tony Blair wants to avoid awaking the impression of helping US President George W. Bush just before American presidential elections in November.

Copenhagen’s Politiken newspaper however had its mind another conflict zone: Sudan’s Darfur region. Responding to calls from five African countries that other countries should keep themselves out of the affair, the paper wrote western nations must offer as much practical and economic help as possible -- in this area where previously nations have failed to act against the killing of thousands of people. In Spain, Madrid’s El Pais commented on Belarus’ weekend referendum on whether to allow President Alexander Lukaschenko to remain in power, which would mean changing the constitution. The paper said the vote was a farce. Europe and the rest of the world should not allow it and tell Lukaschenko, Stalin’s little nephew -- as the paper calls him -- a resounding ‘njet’ -- no.