European Press Review: Terrorist and Extremist Advances | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 07.09.2004
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European Press Review: Terrorist and Extremist Advances

European editorialists on Tuesday morning took stock of the Belsan crisis as well as the major blow to the Social Democrats in Germany’s state elections in Saarland.

European papers offered a whole spectrum of opinions on how much blame to lay on Russian President Vladimir Putin for the tragedy in Beslan.

Putin’s apologists included the Times of London, which called how European commentators have targeted Russia’s policy toward Chechnya "tasteless." Terrorism like in Beslan, the paper argued, could occur anywhere, anytime.

The Independent, also from London contained a commentary which argued how unacceptable this example of terrorism really is, regardless of the political climate in which it occurred. "This crime has no place within even the farthest boundaries of human behavior," the paper suggested. "No political solution in Chechnya is now possible." The Independent praised the "dignified and infinitely patient Chechens who resist the Russians through legitimate means" but are now "blighted and identified with violent extremism."

Other papers offered mixed -- sometimes even seemingly contradictory -- analyses of what the EU should do about Chechnya.

"The conflict in Chechnya is our problem. However, Russia’s war in Chechnya is not our problem and ought not become so," the Svenska Dagbladet from Stockholm assessed. Since Putin isn’t showing any plans to change his military encroachments, the paper recommended the USA and the EU put more pressure on Russia. "Chechnya is a case for the United Nations," the paper concluded.

French papers were frustrated that EU leaders have not openly criticized Putin as much as they should, but it was Le Soir from Brussels that explained why. "Russia’s size and its energy supply -- worldwide number one in natural gas -- underlie the European Commission’s efforts to keep the best possible relationship with Russia," the daily wrote.

But Liberation from Paris thought Europe was being hypocritical. "French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder fairly criticize the US’s war in Iraq," it stated. The paper went on to ask, "What justifies their silence about Putin’s Chechnya policy?"

As for the major blow to Germany’s Social Democrats in the Saarland elections, the papers fretted about the possible rise of neo-Nazism in Germany.

The Dernieres Nouvelles d’Alsace worried that "in the coming state elections in Saxony and Brandenburg, the extreme parties -- on the left and on the right -- could collect the dividends. Many voters will have to decide between the simple solution of not voting, and the temptation of radical parties."

This "extreme threat" also concerned El Pais of Madrid. "Schröder and the Social Democrats can only hope, that their economic reforms will be effective," the paper opined. "Otherwise, it will be a disaster for social democracy in Germany which will reach historic dimensions."

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