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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Uk-Iraq, Economic, Eu Summit, Greece,

R 111207Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
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"PERISHABLE INFORMATION -- DO NOT SERVICE"

E.0. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO GM
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: UK-Iraq, Economic, EU Summit, Greece,
Piracy, Blagojevich

. Lead Stories Summary
2. (UK-Iraq) Withdrawal Of British Forces From Iraq
3. (Economic) German Reaction To Financial Crisis
4. (EU) Summit
5. (Greece) General Strike
6. (Piracy) EU Atalanta Mission
7. (U.S.) Blagojevich

1. Lead Stories Summary

Editorials focused on the controversy between the CSU and CDU on
lowering taxes, on German participation in the EU mission to combat
piracy, and on the government's most recent personal data protection
measures. ZDF-TV's early evening newscast Heute opened with a story
on German anti-piracy efforts, and ARD-TV's early evening newscast
Tagesschau opened with a story on a bill to improve data
protection.

2. (UK-Iraq) Withdrawal Of British Forces From Iraq

Sueddeutsche Zeitung judged: "The British withdrawal from Iraq
cannot surprise anyone because London's forces hardly played an
independent role over the past two years. But the UK soldiers will
not leave the country either as winners or losers. They will leave
as a force that has lost its significance. Despite all slogans of
the coalition, the Iraq war was and has been primarily an American
war. Right from the start, Tony Blair played the role of
Washington's loyal supporter. His successor Gordon Brown is trying
to play a different role: he wants to remain loyal to the alliance
but has in mind to limit the damage for Britain, something for which
the British should highly esteem him. They can now watch the final
act of this adventure in Iraq, the U.S. troop withdrawal, form a
distance."

In the view of Berliner Zeitung, "A new agreement on the legal
status of the British military presence in Iraq is necessary at the
end of the year, because the UN mandate expires. Basically the
problem is to shape the withdrawal as dignified as possible. The
judgment over the most devastating, most tragic, and most stupid
invasion of allied western forces in the most recent time has been
made anyway. But the soldiers cannot be blamed...for a failure of
this war. Military and political strategists in London and
Washington are responsible for this failure. Over the past five
years they have forfeited any claim to be the moralizers of the 21st
century."

3. (Economic) German Reaction To Financial Crisis

Weekly Die Zeit noted: "Within a few weeks, the economic crisis has
turned Angela Merkel from a modern globalization-oriented politician
of the 21st century into the reincarnation of an industrial
politician of the fallen, old Federal Republic of Germany. Instead
of wondering where are the jobs of the future, instead of developing
a green deal for the future that could be a model for the world,
instead of looking ahead, she has again focused on a very old
conflict: jobs against the protection of the environment; cars
against the climate. Like in the 1980s of the past century,
environmental protection is declared a luxury, which we can afford
in good but not in bad times."

Frankfurter Allgemeine reported under the headline: "Almost In The
Pillory," that "it seems that Germany has replaced the favorite
enemy image among the Americans. It is no longer France that acts
as a spoilsport but Germany-bashing has been en vogue this season.
In the United States, people are criticizing the restrained German
policy in the fight against the financial and economic crisis - as
if hectic activities ` la Sarkozy possessed a confidence-building
value in themselves. And there are additional reasons in America
why the enthusiasm about the woman in the Chancellery has declined:
the criticism of the German policy towards Iran, the alleged refusal
of the Berlin government to support stricter sanction son Iran,
criticism of the rules that restrict the Bundeswehr mission in
Afghanistan, and the German policy towards Russia. All this hides
the fears that influential government members, especially the ones
in the Foreign Ministry, would take seriously their rhetoric about
'Germany as a bridge' and really orient the country to a middle
position."

4. (EU) Summit

Sueddeutsche Zeitung argued: "When the EU leaders during these
gloomy economic times quarrel about the global protection of the
climate and are at odds with each other about the right path out of
the economic trough and try to achieve a reform of the European
Union, then even more is involved. Everywhere countries are looking
for ways out of the crisis. That is why other countries and
continents will closely watch this EU summit. They want to know
whether the European claim to play a trailblazing role in climate
protection is more than posturing, and whether the Europeans have
the courage to free themselves from idiosyncratic national paths and
face global challenges together. Europe can now prove that it is
able to lead the world and is able and willing to take over
responsibility beyond its own borders."

Frankfurter Allgemeine criticizes the French reaction to the
economic crisis and concluded: "Sarkozy began in good way as a
crisis manager this summer, because he was quick to save the banks
and organized a European answer. In view of the market failure on
the financial markets, his intervention was appropriate and
justified. But now he is threatening to lose his reputation with an
erratic economic policy which wants everything at the same time.
The comprehensive state intervention could create a status quo which
could no longer be reversed after the end of the crisis. This
intervention will not be able to stop the decline of the economy.
It would be a contribution to the credibility of politicians to
explain to the people that the state is not omnipotent."

Die Welt noted: "As the case of Greece has demonstrated, the
European Union needs new forms of associations such as the ones that
have been discussed in connection with Turkey. And it should be
possible to put in quarantine such states to lead them to European
standards by closely watching its activities. Otherwise Europe will
not europeanize the Balkans, but the Balkans will balkanize the EU."

According to regional daily Th|ringer Allgemeine, "the ecological
turnabout is threatened to be ground between national interests in
the shadow of the recession. The problem is that climate protection
is not suited to be applied during good times only. If the climate
only increases by two degrees Centigrade, the global climate will
fall apart in an irreversible way. At the upcoming EU summit, the
leaders will have to try to achieve the dichotomy of sticking to an
ambitious climate protection package and also save their industries
from strict regulations. We doubt whether this will be
successful."

5. (Greece) General Strike

According to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, "new ideas in Greece
have come from the extreme left wing or from the other side of
society, the Greek-orthodox Church. But in the ranks of the New
Democracy party, there has hardly been anyone who could have been
able to represent in a credible and courageous way conservative
values to the outside. Prime Minister Karamanlis has not turned out
to be the great reformer but instead capitulated in view of the
inertia of his society. If he had shown this courage, he would have
been voted out of office after his first term, because there is no
majority for a true reform policy in Greece."

Die Welt editorialized: "A faltering, partly collapsing state order,
government supported organized crime, disorganization and a lack of
social cohesion are the background for the fires that are ravaging
the country. These are not natural disasters which are inflicted on
the Greeks; these are instantaneous self-ignitions of a state which
can best be described with the term 'weak state.'"

Mdrkische Oderzeitung of Frankfurt on the Oder opined: "The
financial crisis social problems and the lack of perspectives for a
highly qualified youth are now cited as reasons to explain the
degree of the revolt. But this is only partly true, and the ouster
of the conservative Karamanlis government would not change this
situation. Like this one, the socialists were involved in
corruption, financed their nepotism with EU funds, while the public
service just failed and urgent reforms were put off repeatedly. The
ones who are suffering are the people. The cradle of democracy has
lost its idols. The EU member Greece is simply ruining itself."

6. (Piracy) EU Atalanta Mission

"It is good that Germany is taking part in the EU anti-piracy
mission 'Atalanta,' Sueddeutsche Zeitung editorializes, and adds:
"Resolute action against the pirates is overdue and Germany cannot
stay by the sidelines. But with the military operation of the EU
and NATO will not change the disastrous situation in disintegrating
Somalia. Something must be done against this, but on a short-term
basis, a success cannot be achieved at this front. That is why the
symptoms of this crisis must be fought. Piracy is a crime and in
the Somali form of this is organized crime, and this is a case for
police that does not exist along the Horn of Africa."

Tagesspiegel observed: "It is time for an honest debate, for a
military assessment of the situation and then a decision in the
Bundestag. They must say with which means Germany, and its future
governments, wants to safeguard its own interests, and then amend
the Basic Law accordingly. It will soon become clear that the
military means will not be sufficient to safeguard these
interests."

Frankfurter Rundschau argued: "The German government made an
acceptable decision in the fight against piracy. In a worst case
scenario, this can lead to conflicts with the pirates. That is why
it approved a robust mandate. There may be people who regret this
additional mission of German soldiers, but it cannot be avoided,
because the interests of a trading nation and the international
pressure are too great."

7. (U.S.) Blagojevich

Frankfurter Allgemeine had this to say: "It is well known that
ambassadorial posts in America are given to (political) friends and
donors of the president, but the fact that vacant seats are to be
auctioned is new. The place where this was to happen is no
surprise, because Illinois leads the pack of the most corrupt
states. The opposition will certainly try to blow up this affair
and turn it into a scandal. But there is another delicate detail:
in New York, Senator Kennedy is lobbying without any scruples for
John F. Kennedy's daughter to win the seat which Hillary Clinton
will now give up."

According to Die Welt, the Blagojevich affair "is first of all
embarrassing for President-elect Obama. It begs the question
whether it is thinkable that Barack Obama has matured into a
politician in Chicago without having relied at least a bit on the
'machine?' But unlike a few of his close aides, Obama has pursued
his career for a long time away from the Daley machine and only
formed a purposive alliance with Daley Jr. a year ago. All
indications are that Obama turned into the reformer out of disgust
about dirty politics in Chicago, by advocating stricter ethic rules
in politics and administration first in Chicago and now in
Washington. It is he who is now asking the candidates for top
positions to reveal conflicts of interests in a tougher way than any
other president did. Obama must now see to it that Chicago swamp
will not rub off on him."

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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