Cablegate: Media Reaction: Afghanistan, Iran, Eu, General Motors,
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R 051358Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5686
INFO RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 1704
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0416
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0934
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 2444
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 1459
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 0636
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 05 BERLIN 001400
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO AF KGHG IR EU GM US IT
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: AFGHANISTAN, IRAN, EU, GENERAL MOTORS,
GERMANY, CLIMATE, CIA;BERLIN
1. Lead Stories Summary
2. GMQs U-turn
3. Chancellor Merkel in the US
4. President Obama Q One year after the elections
5. Lisbon Treaty
6. CIA Q Italian Court
7. Climate Change
8. Iranian Protests
1. Lead Stories
Primetime newscasts and all newspapers led with stories on car maker
GMQs decision to keep Opel, highlighting in very lengthy reports
that German politicians and Opel employees are outraged at GM. Lead
headlines: QBerlin is outraged at General MotorsQ (Frankfurter
Allgemeine), QAmericans snub MerkelQ (Tagesspiegel), QGeneral Motors
blackmails BerlinQ (FT Deutschland), QGeneral Motors blackmails Opel
employeesQ (Sueddeutsche), QAmericans put everyone of the scent.
OpelQnothing but a cheat!Q (Bild), QGM cuts 10,000 Opel jobs
(Berliner Zeitung). Most papers carried several pages on GM and
Opel. Editorials focused on OpelQs situation.
2. GMQs U-turn
In a front-page editorial, Tagesspiegel (11/5) described GMQs
decision as a setback for Chancellor Merkel after her triumph in the
U.S. Congress: QIt is really tragic. On the day of her greatest
triumph she was most humiliatedQnot anywhere, but in the U.S., the
land of her dreams This is an unprecedented affront and disaster
for U.S.-German relations.
Frankfurter Allgemeine (11/5) carried a sober front-page editorial:
QThe anger in Germany is overwhelming, and the Russian leadership
also feels duped. The German federal and regional governments
rescue plan has failed because they were not the dealQs driving
forces. They have embarrassed themselves.
In a second front-page editorial, Frankfurter Allgemeine (11/5)
added: QThis is particularly embarrassing for Chancellor Merkel who
repeatedly urged GM to sell Opel to Magna She interfered in the
plans of an individual company. This is not what politicians should
do in a free market economy, not even in an election campaign..
For taxpayers, the U-turn is good news, but part of the employees
will lose much.
Under the headline QThe Opel disaster,Q Sueddeutsche (11/5)
editorialized: QNow when rescuing Opel and the four plants in
Germany has become critical, this time around under the auspices of
GM, the new government is also under threat of being blackmailed
Whenever necessary, GM can threaten to close plants. So the
tug-of-war to rescue Opel will go on, and the danger that the
government will make a mistake is great.
Mass-tabloid Bild (11/5) remarked: QThe behavior of managers is a
slap in the face of all those who have been involved in the rescue
efforts. GM further damages Opel in the midst of a sales crisis.
After this decision, there are only losers.
Berliner Zeitung (11/5) commented: QYes, the sudden U-turn without
preceding consultations is an affront to Germans. The fact that the
decision was made at a time when the Chancellor expressed gratitude
to Americans for their achievements in the process that led to
German unity, makes it even worse. However, it is wrong to speak of
a defeat for Merkel. The recent measures taken by the government
under the participation of the SPD have rescued the company, which
would otherwise have faced bankruptcy.
BERLIN 00001400 002 OF 005
FT Deutschland (11/5) editorialized on its front page: QThose who
hoped that the game of poker was over with GMQs decision were
disappointed only hours later. Another round is just beginning.
For Germany, this is bad news, since the German government has
demonstrated in previous rounds that it is not good at poker. It
was a particularly bad mistake for the government to make itself
prone to blackmail.
3. Chancellor Merkel in the U.S.
ARD-TVQs Tagesthemen (11/3) commented: QRegardless of the fact that
standing ovations and occasional cheers are part of CongressQs
standard repertoire, this time they have shown real appreciation.
For many American politicians, Angela Merkel is the go to person in
Europe. There were many signs indicating that the red carpet was
rolled out for her. It must be clearly said: Angela Merkel has
hit the right tone. She has spoken about her personal experience,
and for many Americans she is the embodied victory over Communism.
Americans have a very emotional relation to the Wall. It was very
smart of Merkel to use the idea of overcoming walls throughout her
speech It was astonishing how many Congressmen stood up and
applauded her statements on climate protection, given that many
brakemen are sitting in both houses of the Congress.
ZDF-TVQs Heute (11/3) noted: QThis is a style America appreciates
very much. Merkel has professed the American dream. She has
reminded many Americans that Germany remains an important and
particularly grateful ally. However, there will also be critical
questions. People will want to know what was meant when the
Chancellor assured Congress that Germany will share in the
responsibility for Afghanistan. Not everybody will applaud tougher
climate protection measures. Awareness of the need for climate
protection is still in its nappies. However, in general, this was a
complex and personal speech America appreciates.
Under the headline QOde to freedom,Q Frankfurter Allgemeine (11/4)
remarked in a front-page editorial: QWas this really the German
Chancellor who spoke there, the sober Angela Merkel who is not
exactly known as a magician of words? On Capitol Hill in
Washington, a politician emerged who we have not seen before. She
was the first German Chancellor who was allowed to address both
houses of the Congress. She said thanks for the honor by expressing
great commitment to freedom, the highest virtue of AmericansQand
Germans. She said that nothing stimulates her more than the power
of freedom and the American Dream. Such speeches do not remove the
differences of interests that even exist in the closest alliance,
but it helps in a dispute to realize that the agreements on the
basics outweigh the differences by far. Unlike her predecessor
Schroeder, she has no doubt that NATO remains the pillar of
GermanyQs security policy. Given this ode to freedom, she must
know that she could not fall short of it in the Bundestag and among
the German public.
Sueddeutsche (11/4) opined: QThe East German daughter of a pastor
still sounds more convincing than West Germans when she says thanks
to Americans for their efforts as a western guard in the Cold War as
well as for their support of the historic opportunity for GermanyQs
reunification. America was right to trust GermanyQs democratic
Berliner Zeitung (11/4) argued: QAngela Merkel delivered a
remarkable speech to the U.S. Congress It was a smart speech that
linked her personal story in East Germany with the call to tear down
the walls of the 21st century, such as the walls that prevent
climate protection. This was the only passage where she demanded
something from the U.S.
BERLIN 00001400 003 OF 005
Under the headline QMerkelQs freedom speech,Q Die Welt (11/4) said
in a front-page editorial: QSince 1989, Germany represents the model
of successful U.S. policyQpeaceful introduction of democracy,
integration into the western system and a woman as a leader. The
latter is music of the future for the U.S. Many in the U.S.
appreciate Merkel Such speeches open doors and secure political
influence. U.S. presidents can fail in the Congress. It is good
for Germany when a chancellor is successful there.
FT Deutschland (11/4) commented: QAngela Merkel delivered the kind
of speech to the U.S. Congress that Americans love: personal, with
pathos and flattery. She told the story of a girl in East Germany
who was dreaming of freedom and the land of opportunities. The
Chancellor smartly connected her personal anecdotes, historic
references and current topics, such as the international approach to
the nuclear dispute with Iran and the upcoming climate conference in
Copenhagen. On the foreign stage, MerkelQs policy is certainly
beneficial. In general, Merkel left a good impression on most
Congressmen. She met the expectations.
Tagesspiegel (11/4) noted in a front-page editorial: QIn front of
both house of the Congress, Angela Merkel has probably delivered the
speech of her life. A speech of gratitude to the American people, a
commitment to the unbreakable alliance between Europe and the U.S.
on the basis of common values, and the speech of a world leader who
speaks on behalf of a country that wants to return to the world the
assistance it received in recent decades. The speech was marked by
the signal that Germany bears its responsibility for the world. No
country has promoted German unity like the United States. No other
western ally expressed so much confidence in the maturity of Germans
and their political representatives. Afghanistan could now become
the first test of this renewed loyalty.
4. President Obama Q One year after the elections
In a lengthy editorial under the headline QPresident on probation,
Sueddeutsche (11/5) noted: QTo the day it is one year ago that a new
time was to start for America and the world. The honeymoon between
the American people and Obama is over. Conservatives believe they
were right when the described him as a fraud. The left is
disappointed. In fact, Obama has not anything specific to showQnot
yet One year later it is clear that Obama is working very hard.
It is still too early to come to a conclusion on his presidency.
But in one year, when a new Congress is elected, Barack Obama must
have delivered something so we can see where we are going.
Otherwise the people will punish him, and so would history.
Under the headline QWarning signal for Obama,Q Sueddeutsche (11/4)
carried an editorial: QThe message is clear: Obama and his Democrats
must finally implement the reforms they promised a year ago, and
thus get the country moving. Otherwise, next yearQs results, when
36 governors and parts of the Congress are up for election, will be
bad for the Democrats.
Die Welt (11/4) headlined its editorial QSlap in ObamaQs face,Q and
added: QThe initial glamour has not gone, but there are a few dents.
Clear victories for the Republicans show the limits of ObamaQs
success strategy. Skepticism of the President has grown in the
country. The midterm elections in 2010 will be the real test.
This is the date Obama is focusing on. The slap in his face in
Virginia and New Jersey will have an impact on his policies.
Berliner Zeitung (11/4) devoted most of page two to the first
anniversary of the U.S. elections, highlighting: QToday a year ago
the U.S. elected their first black President. The office has
changed Barack Obama. The man who conveyed so much hope has
problems to implement his ideas. Is this still change we can
believe in?Q FT Deutschland (11/4) wrote: QPrior to his election on
BERLIN 00001400 004 OF 005
November 4, 2008, U.S. President Obama made many promises. Since
then he launched many reformsQbut it remains uncertain how
successful they are.Q Frankfurter Rundschau (11/4) headlined QThe
magician lost his magic,Q and highlighted: QOne year after the
elections, Obama is fighting against exaggerated expectations.
5. Lisbon Treaty
Under the headline QNew Beginning in Europe,Q Berliner Zeitung
(11/4) editorialized: QThe tense debates about the personnel for the
new offices conceal the fact that the posts are only vaguely
defined. What is the future council president supposed to do? What
are his competences? Will he be an internal coordinator, a better
bureaucrat or somebody who can set political priorities? If the
new beginning is supposed to work, EuropeQs state and government
leaders must quickly answer these questions. They should first of
all determine how strong and independent the new Lisbon Europe
Sueddeutsche (11/4) headlined QHectic search for EuropeQs foreign
minister,Q and added: QIn Brussels, particularly two names are being
discussed: David Milliband and Massimo DQAlema. The most promising
candidate is David Milliband.Q The editorial headlined Qthe end of
the war of nerves,Q and noted Qthe time has come when EUQs 27
members can compete together with large powers and emerging
Die Welt (11/4) commented: QThe end of a painfully long ratification
process came quicker than expected. This treaty does not repair
all of EuropeQs flaws but it creates democratic and efficient
structures. The most important thing is, however, that Europe can
now stop talking about structures as if the future of the continent
depends on them.
6. CIA Q Italian Court
Several papers reported that QCIA agents were convicted as
kidnappersQ by an Italian court (Berliner Zeitung). Sueddeutsche
Zeitung (11/5) editorialized under the headline QVictory of
JusticeQ: QThere are still judges in Italy. The verdict
convicting 23 Americans who kidnapped a radical Imam six years ago
in Mailand and deported him to Egypt is a victory of justice. Five
years in prison is appropriate, although the verdict is only of
symbolic value, as the agents, sentenced in absentia, are not
expected to return to Italy. The verdict is a blow to the former
government under President Bush, which sacrificed the rule of law
and betrayed the values of the West in the fight against a suspected
evil. The verdict makes clear that Europe must not be made the
backyard of U.S. intelligence services.
7. Climate Change
Weekly Die Zeit (11/5) wrote in a lengthy article: QWe are outraged
that the political global elite and particularly the U.S. superpower
are about to postpone humankindQs number one problem for an
indefinite time Who is to blame? Particularly the United States.
America is the greatest emitter among the industrial countries, the
greatest brakeman on climate protection, and the leader everybody is
waiting for. However, despite ObamaQs efforts, America will have
nothing to offer in Copenhagen. Too big is the resistance in the
U.S. Congress and by lobbyists. This vicious circle must be
broken. It is possible to exert pressure on the U.S. If Europe and
the most important developing countries reach an ambitious agreement
in Copenhagen without the U.S., it could create a maelstrom the U.S.
Congress can no longer resist. There is a storm in America over
climate protection and the coming months will decide in which
direction America is moving.
BERLIN 00001400 005 OF 005
Berliner Zeitung (11/5) carried a page on climate protection,
saying: QIn Barcelona, the last preparations have been made for the
big post-Kyoto conference in Copenhagen in December. The omens
could not be worse because the members of the global community are
completely at odds with one another.Q The paper states: QThe U.S.
government is rhetorically withdrawing from climate protection.
8. Iranian Protests
Frankfurter Allgemeine (11/5) commented: QThis time around, the
celebrations of the criminal kidnappers got out of control. Apart
from the official demonstrations, there were violent clashes between
the security apparatus and the opposition forces, which have not
given in since the controversial presidential elections last summer.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is seething with unrest.
Die Welt (11/5) editorialized: QFor the rulers in Tehran, it is
bitter irony that the opposition turned the QholidayQ that marks the
Islamic Revolution more than many other days, upside down. After
the redefinition of the anti-Israeli Al Quds day, it was the second
time that the opposition exploited such days for its own purposes.
Reformers were similarly clever when they picked green, the color of
the prophet, as the symbolic color of their movement. This
demonstrates that the opposition is persistently pursuing its goals.
It does not currently have the power to seriously threaten the
regime, but neither is the theocracy completely managing to quell
the protest. There are two reasons: the leaders are divided and
the moral conviction of the protesters has grown. Even hardliners
realize that excessive violence against protesters undermines the
legitimacy of the regime. The history of the fall of the Wall shows
what consequences can occur when the moral foundation of a regime is
Berliner Zeitung (11/5) analyzed: QThere is no credibility or
consensus any more. The rifts in Iranian society are becoming
larger; they are sharply dividing Iranian youth from the theocracy.
AhmadinejadQs government hardly has the power to make decisions.
This has recently become clear in the nuclear dispute. Ahmadinejad
expressed willingness to reach a compromise with the West to enrich
uranium abroad, but conservative parliamentarians, representatives
of students and even opposition leaders accused Ahmadinejad of going
down on his knees before America. Obviously not every reformer
favors normal relations with the United States and certainly not at
any cost. Conservatives and opposition supporters are united in
their desire for improved relations with the U.S. They want mutual
respect and transparent meetings. U.S. President Obama promised
this when he commemorated the events of 30 years ago. Whether he
can keep this promise depends not just on the attitude of the
Iranian government towards the nuclear dispute and the democratic
movement, but also on the role played by the U.S. Congress and
electorate. The takeover of the Embassy was a humiliation the
majority of Americans have psychologically not yet overcome.
Several papers carried factual reports noting that an QAfghan police
officer killed five British trainersQ (Berliner Zeitung). There are
no editorials on this incident, but Damir Fras of Berliner Zeitung
(11/5), who has recently been on a US-NATO tour in Afghanistan,
remarked in an editorial: QGermany must debate whether to deploy the
Bundeswehr in the heavily embattled south of the country. There is
no reason to avoid this debate. GermanyQs allies have been making
this request for a long time. And Germans have the right to get a