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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Iran, Afghanistan, Germany;Berlin

VZCZCXRO7623
RR RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHLZ
DE RUEHRL #1205/01 2730638
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 300638Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5330
INFO RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 1577
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0271
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0792
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 2318
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 1325
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 0510
RHMFIUU/HQ USAFE RAMSTEIN AB GE
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE//J5 DIRECTORATE (MC)//
RHMFISS/CDRUSAREUR HEIDELBERG GE
RUKAAKC/UDITDUSAREUR HEIDELBERG GE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 BERLIN 001205

STATE FOR INR/R/MR, EUR/PAPD, EUR/PPA, EUR/CE, INR/EUC, INR/P,
SECDEF FOR USDP/ISA/DSAA, DIA FOR DC-4A

VIENNA FOR CSBM, CSCE, PAA

"PERISHABLE INFORMATION -- DO NOT SERVICE"

SIPDIS

E.0. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO IR AF GM
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: IRAN, AFGHANISTAN, GERMANY;Berlin

1. Lead Stories Summary
2. Iran) Missile Tests
3. (Afghanistan) Elections, ISAF
4. (Germany) Aftermath of Bundestag Elections


1. Lead Stories Summary

All media led with stories on the aftermath of the Bundestag
elections, focusing on the plans by CDU/CSU and FDP to quickly
start coalition talks and SPD Chairman Mntefering's slow
retreat from party leadership. Editorials focused on many
aspects of the elections, particularly on the situation of the
SPD after the devastating election results for the party.

2. (Iran) Missile Tests

Many media reported on "Iran's Threatening Gestures"
(Frankfurter Allgemeine headline), saying that, "prior to the
nuclear talks, Iran provokes with tests of missiles that could
reach Israel" (Sddeutsche).

Sddeutsche (9/29) reported: "Iran again fired Shahab-3 and
potentially Sejil missiles on Monday. With this, Tehran
increases the tensions prior to the planned talks with the P5
and Germany over its controversial nuclear program.... The
visible efforts of the U.S. are supposed to increase pressure
on Iran to give a clear signal during the talks on Thursday
that the government is prepared to start negotiations over its
nuclear program. Israel and the U.S. did not rule out a
military strike."

Under the headline "China's turn," FT Deutschland (9/29)
editorialized: "The message is clear: behind the recent
Iranian missile tests stands the determination of Iranian
President Ahmadinejad to broaden the confrontation with the
West to a maximum. Only optimists really expected Iran to
make a move during the talks with the P5 and Germany on
Thursday. However, the targeted military provocation at this
moment can only mean that the group of six might as well
cancel the meeting with the Iranian negotiator. Just as it
was right for Obama to start talks with Iran, it is now clear
that Tehran is not interested in serious talks. Not the group
of six, but the UN Security Council would be the right place
for the talks. The UNSC must quickly agree on tougher
sanctions against Iran. Ahmadinejad's threats are actually
helpful because Iran is about to put off its remaining allies
abroad. Until now, Iran could rely on Russia and China to
counter the efforts of the West to embark on a tougher course
against Iran. At least the Russians have now suggested that
they are getting impatient with the Iranians. Even those who
have officially doubted the military nature of the program are
now feeling deceived by Ahmadinejad. Given Russia's change of
policy, it is now China's turn. If the Chinese are indeed
ready to bear their international responsibilities, then they
will stop obstructing the way for tougher actions against
Iran."

Under the headline "Russian Mistrust," Frankfurter Rundschau
(9/29) editorialized: "The group of six might attend the
upcoming meeting with the Iranian negotiators more united than
ever before.... The Russian confidence in the Tehran leadership
seems to have been seriously undermined.... Information the
U.S. recently provided is important.... This impressed
Medvedev. By the way, China has also been briefed
extensively. State leader Jintao still controls his facial
play... The Russian position will be: negotiate as long as
possible, including the threat of sanctions."

BERLIN 00001205 002 OF 004

3. (Afghanistan) Elections, ISAF

Sddeutsche (9/29) headlined: "NATO stands by Karzai" and said
in its intro: "Describing Karzai's election victory as dubious
is an understatement..... His challenger Abdullah Abdullah, who
also stands accused of minor election frauds, called the
election results a bad joke, noting that the president
systematically falsified the elections."

Under the headline "The time is short," Frankfurter Allgemeine
(9/29) analyzed: "The calls of the ISAF commander Mc Chrystal
to increase the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan in
connection with a warning of a likely defeat has given a new
urgency to the debate about the allies' strategy and tactics
in this conflict. President Obama's statement that the
American nation is tired of this war has the impact of a long-
expected shock.... For Europeans, it is now clear that Obama
will not walk into the election campaign at the domestic front
with an open flank in Afghanistan."

4. (Germany) Aftermath of Bundestag Elections

All papers carried lengthy election analyses and reports on
the future strategies of the parties. The papers again
focused on what the outcome of the election means for domestic
policies and only one paper, Handelsblatt (9/29), dealt with
the effects the election may have on foreign policy. The
daily wrote under the headline: "FDP Turns Disarmament into a
Crucial Issue," "FDP leader Westerwelle remained silent about
future foreign policy...but he is becoming concrete on
disarmament policy and by emphasizing this choice, he is
stressing which profile the FDP wants to pursue in foreign
policy. Westerwelle defined the complete withdrawal of the
last U.S. nuclear weapons from Germany as a short-term goal of
the new coalition government. Westerwelle said that,
following President Obama's disarmament initiative, it would
only be consistent if Germany made its contribution to this
initiative. During a news conference in Berlin a Ukrainian
journalist asked Westerwelle whether he would pursue a new
policy towards Russia, Westerwelle said that he would prefer
to postpone the answer to this question for another news
conference. 'But this question is understandable,' the daily
wrote, because "the FDP is the only party that is supporting
Ukraine's accession to the EU."

ARD-TV's Tagesthemen (9/28) commented: "Angela Merkel said: 'I
want to be the chancellor of all Germans.' This was the first
pillar which she rammed into the ground against the FDP. And
North Rhine-Westphalia's Minister President Rttgers promised
on TV that the CDU/CSU/FDP coalition would not impose any
radical measures on Germans. This statement was obvious, for
he wants to remain minister president in NRW in May, 2010.
But the FDP has many reasons not to be too radical either.
The FDP, too, does not want to risk losing its majority in the
Bundesrat because of a defeat in the upcoming NRW state
parliament elections."

Norddeutscher Rundfunk radio (9/28) broadcast the following
commentary: "The majorities are clear: A coalition of the
CDU/CSU and the FDP will dominate the Bundestag and is very
likely to have a majority in the second chamber, the
Bundesrat--at least until the state parliament elections in
NRW. This is also the reason that we do not have to be afraid
of radical change of course, but can expect a policy based on
circumspection. Now the chancellor must demonstrate that she
is able to lead. This is not, such as the grand coalition, a
coalition at eye level, but a coalition among unequal
partners. This means an end to the presidential

BERLIN 00001205 003 OF 004


chancellorship. Her mandate now will be to sharpen the
profile of the CDU/CSU and to show her true colors."

Under the headline: "Merkel's Power," Sueddeutsche Zeitung
(9/29) opined: "Merkel will patch up a coalition government
which, in her opinion, must be based on three pillars: First,
the stability of her power; second, the stability of her
power, and third, the stability of her power. The better she
is in achieving this, the freer she will feel also with
respect to fulfilling the mandate of the voters, i.e. to
successfully govern.... Following these elections, Merkel is
stronger than is evident in the mere numbers. With Guido
Westerwelle, Merkel has a partner who will be very careful not
to forfeit the bit of power he will now have. But there is
one thing the chancellor is lacking: an opposition that
corresponds to the most important requirement of a democracy,
namely to be able at any time to replace the government. This
deficit alone stresses the full dimension of Merkel's
victory."

In the view of Frankfurter Allgemeine (9/29), "Angela Merkel
did not inadvertently say that she wanted to be the chancellor
of all Germans, and on Monday, she said that the interests of
labor and capital would again be well balanced under her
leadership. Obviously, she does not want to allow the
opposition to put her in a 'neo-liberal' corner.
Nevertheless, she promised that there will be 'more of the
CDU/CSU' in the new coalition than there was in the old one.
More of the CDU/CSU? The curtain has now been raised but many
questions still remain open."

Frankfurter Rundschau (9/29) judged: "It is by no means
guaranteed that the new trio of a battered CDU with a hyper-
nervous CSU and an FDP that is brimming with self-confidence
will really turn out to be stable in everyday political
business. With clear words Chancellor Merkel rejected any
corrections of previous CDU/SPD decisions and assured that
fundamental FDP demands for social policies would not be
implemented with her at the helm, because her popularity is
based on her balanced policy as chancellor."

According to Financial Times Deutschland (9/29), "the moment
of truth will come for Chancellor Merkel in the coalition
talks with the FDP. Then Merkel will have to stand for the
political projects that have priority for the CDU/CSU. It may
sound paradoxical, but Merkel can and should now demonstrate
her leadership strength the same she did before the election:
by understatement. Merkel will certainly do the country and
trade and industry a favor if she continues her policy of a
quiet hand for the time being and not allow the FDP and the
CSU to tell her what she has to do. The difference to the
time before the election is that Merkel needs a lot of
strength now to reject radical reforms."

Handelsblatt ((/29) wondered: "Will Merkel now put aside her
cotton buds and put on her boxing gloves and fight as a
resolute reformer for a clear economic policy course? Those
who closely listen to the chancellor have their doubts. Even
after the closure of all polling stations, all her speeches
indicate the fearful promise that the social balance will be
maintained. Merkel continues to distribute tranquilizers.
Has the notion left the chancellor that the state referees the
market without seeking to control it now that she can no
longer hide behind the SPD? Election victory or no, Merkel
the suspicious, continues to remain cautious."

Regional daily Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung of Heidelberg (9/29)
opined: "Angela Merkel is now required to act as an animal
trainer. She must keep the destructive potential of the CSU

BERLIN 00001205 004 OF 004


at a low level, rein in the ambitious proposals of the FDP and
debunk the notion that she is only chancellor by the grace of
Guido. These will be exciting times, but they may result in
fresh and better policies in the coming years after the leaden
times of the grand coalition. If someone can turn this chance
for success into reality, then it is Angela Merkel."

MURPHY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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