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Cablegate: Media Reaction Report - Ukraine Bush Administration

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 008677

SIPDIS


DEPT FOR INR/R/MR; IIP/RW; IIP/RNY; BBG/VOA; IIP/WEU; AF/PA;
EUR/WE /P/SP; D/C (MCCOO); EUR/PA; INR/P; INR/EUC; PM; OSC ISA
FOR ILN; NEA; WHITE HOUSE FOR NSC/WEUROPE; DOC FOR ITA/EUR/FR
AND PASS USTR/PA; USINCEUR FOR PAO; NATO/PA; MOSCOW/PA;
ROME/PA; USVIENNA FOR USDEL OSCE.

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR FR
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION REPORT - Ukraine Bush Administration
PARIS - Thursday, December 29, 2005

(A) SUBJECTS COVERED IN TODAY'S REPORT:

Ukraine
Bush Administration

B) SUMMARY OF COVERAGE:

The cold wave passing through France and its socio-economic
consequences is one of today's major front-page stories. The
videotape claiming responsibility for the kidnapping of the
French hostage in Iraq, Bernard Planche, and threatening to
execute him, is featured on the front page of Le Figaro, while
the story is extensively reported in all other outlets. Le
Figaro points out that "it will be difficult to give in to the
requests of the kidnappers, considering that France has no
troops present in Iraq. The demand could just be a front for a
ransom demand." Liberation notes: "The French government has
reiterated that all French journalists, businessmen and
humanitarian workers try to avoid Iraq." In regional
l'Independant du Midi the editorial comments: "Every foreigner
present in Iraq today knows that he can, at any moment, become
a negotiable merchandise. The French government will be
involved in secret negotiations of which we will know
practically nothing. As was the case for Aubenas, Malbrunot
and Chesnot."

The launching of Galileo continues to elicit commentaries
praising Europe's technological capabilities and lamenting its
inability to stand united politically. In regional La Provence
Gilles Dauxerre writes: "Europe, which has so much trouble
functioning on earth, has succeeded in the skies." Regional
L'Alsace comments in its editorial: "The Americans tried in
vain to keep Europe from implementing Galileo, which proves
the strategic importance of the project." Le Figaro carries an
interview with FM Douste-Blazy: "This is a historic moment for
Europe. demonstrating the capacity for individual nations to
cooperate. Europe is proving it can innovate when it goes with
its ambitions. Galileo is the symbol of an independent Europe,
which is no one's vassal. With Galileo, Europe has freed
itself from the dependency it had on the U.S. and its GPS."

Catholic La Croix devotes its lead story and editorial to
Pakistan. The headline reads "It Is Time to Help Pakistan"
while the editorial calls on international solidarity so that
"the Pakistanis might feel they count for the rest of the
world. We must not leave the Pakistani government alone to
deal with the victims of the earthquake. The needs are huge,
the donations insufficient. International aid proved less
generous for Pakistan than for the Tsunami victims."

Stories continue to abound on the tension between Moscow and
Kiev over energy resources. The editorial in Le Monde asks:
"Will Putin execute the threats he has made and cut Ukraine's
gas supply?" Le Figaro carries an analysis titled: "Why the EU
Must Get Involved in Ukraine." (See Part C)

Also in Le Figaro, Washington correspondent Philippe Gelie
reports on the refurbishing of the White House pressroom,
commenting that "the conditions of the room possibly reflect
the waning power of the Bush administration." (See Part C)

(C) SUPPORTING TEXT/BLOCK QUOTES:

Bush Administration

"Scott McClellan and the Wear and Tear of Power"
Philippe Gelie in right-of-center Le Figaro (12/29): "The
temporary physical move of the White House pressroom could
accentuate the tension between Scott McClellan and foreign
correspondents whom he tries to both influence and keep at a
distance. The rundown pressroom has come to reflect the wear
and tear of power in the Bush administration. The White House
spokesman is moving his lectern temporarily across the street,
unless he decides to give up all together. More than for the
President, the year has been an annus horribilis for the
administration's spokesman. The list of difficult incidents
and events is long: violence in Iraq, the loss of support for
the war, doubts about the justification for going to war, the
calamitous management of Katrina, the misstep of the Harriet
Myers nomination, the leaks in the Valerie Plame affair, and
the indictment of Lewis Liby. The long list of bad news could
have broken the bravest of servants. It has left its mark on
McClellan who appears to have lost a few hairs. In a country
where official lies can bring down an administration, Scott
McClellan's image has taken a severe blow. The mistrust
between the seat of power and the press goes way back to
Watergate. The attitude of the besieged adopted by the Bush
administration has contributed to keeping the press at a
distance, communicating by way of propagandistic releases and
a `no comment' approach, leading the Washington Post to call
McClellan `the man with no answers.'"
Ukraine

"The EU Must Get Involved in Ukraine"
Pierre Rousselin in right-of-center Le Figaro (12/29): "The
Kremlin will do all it can to bring Ukraine into the fold. The
war over gas supplies launched by Moscow is part of the
strategy. It is Putin's way of influencing Ukraine's voters
and making them believe their interests have been compromised
by their President's pro-western stance. The fate of Ukraine
and Russia are intimately tied to one another. While Kiev is
calling on Washington, Europe cannot turn its back on such a
serious crisis, if only because of its own energy needs. And
because, if Ukraine succeeds in its democratization, it will
be a form of guarantee that Russia can also evolve peacefully
towards more harmonious relations with the EU." STAPLETON

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