March 1, 2005
PRESIDENT BUSH'S EUROPE TRIP: 'REAL DIALOGUE' OR 'SYMBOLIC GESTURE'?
** "A larger dose of realism" is reflected in Bush's "flattering tone."
** "Old America and Old Europe": "old allies" trying "to listen and hear."
** "The worst was avoided" but tension and "bones of contention" remain.
** Resumed dialogue represents a "promise" that "must be followed by action."
'Bush's magic trip'-- Most observers discerned an acceptably calculated design in President Bush's trip. His visit reflected "a series of gestures from the U.S. towards Europe" aimed at showing Europeans that the U.S. wishes "a new, substantial cooperation with its allies.” A Spanish daily remarked, "Bush has changed his tune," and a Greek analyst noted that at the symbolic level, the "president's visit was impeccable." France's left-of-center Liberation determined that Bush effectively combined "less arrogance" with a "larger dose of realism."
'The U.S. softens its approach' to improve communication-- Most outlets praised the restoration of communication as Bush "seemed to listen and expressed himself in turn." They judged that "on the surface" Bush and Rice's "charm offensive" have U.S.- European relations "looking much better." Writers contrasted the deliberate American approach with European tenatativeness. The editor of Austria's mass-circulation Kurier suggested that Europe lacks "self-confidence" in the face of U.S. "ideology" and "unrestrained capitalism." A Danish writer added, "lacking identity," Europe ignores its faults to focus on those of the U.S.
Areas remain 'where little or nothing advanced'-- Dissenting commentators focused on a perceived imbalance in power and influence between the U.S. and Europe, saying that while "the worst was avoided" amid the "smiles and handshakes," there was still "transatlantic distrust." They noted that there were still "divides over a number of salient issues" stemming from America's "bellicose foreign policy over the past four years", current "warnings to China" and continuing through all the possiblilities "still on the table" regarding Iran. They asserted that "major issues of dissension remain" to circumscribe the positives in this visit and posited that expecting a U.S. "change of orientation would be naive and imprudent." Kosovo's Keri declared, "only the months to come will show what has really been achieved during this historic visit."
What 'actions' will follow the 'impression' left behind?-- Outlets granted that "Bush got a 'plus’ for his performance" in Europe. However, they observed that Washington must now prove that, "after four years of pompous contempt," it is sincere about "substantial cooperation with its allies.” Similarly, an Italian appended, "Now George is speaking with Vladimir, Gerhard and Jacques...a rehab of intentions and politics is yet to come" from the U.S. administration. A Portugese writer asserted that Europe remains "discomfited by American hegemony" while Luxembourg's left-of-center Le Jeudi summed up the visit by saying, an "impression should be confirmed by the facts; a promise must be followed by action."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR: Rupert D. Vaughan
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 41 reports from 22 countries over 23 February to 1 March 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed in the most recent date.
FRANCE: "A True Reunion"
Bernard Guetta stated in right-of-center weekly L’Express (3/1): “Last week many headlines reported on the profound disagreements between Europe and the U.S. They are indeed numerous, but this is not the essential point. What counts is that in spite of Kyoto, of the International Criminal Court, of the lifting of the Chinese arms embargo, or of the lack of U.S. support to Paris, London and Berlin’s efforts with Iran, America and Europe had a pressing interest in lessening transatlantic tension. What made this a true reunion is that it was based on reality. On the one hand the U.S. needed to find new friends because America’s lack of popularity has never been so great...and not only in the Arab Muslim world.... The U.S. needed to enhance its image and to strengthen the Transatlantic Alliance. This is why President Bush committed to the Middle East peace process, thus giving satisfaction to the Europeans.... The Europeans were just as keen about this détente.... As for Chirac, he has managed to achieve France’s consecration: after all President Bush’s first reconciliation was with France, before his reconciliation with Europe… Chirac is thus achieving his dream for France: transatlantic relations on an equal basis, devoid of master-vassal ties, with the freedom of agreeing, but not necessarily on everything.
"The U.S. Softens Its Approach"
Pascal Boniface of IRIS (Institute for International and Strategic Relations) remarked in left-of-center Liberation (2/28): “President Bush's European trip was a veritable charm offensive which confirmed the previous messages sent by Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld.... President Bush’s intention was to bury the hatchet which Iraq had raised between Washington and the Europeans… Since January, and to the surprise of those who expected Europe to have to pay for its dissidence, there has been a series of gestures from the U.S. towards Europe. This proves that although the world is not a multipolar world, neither is it a unipolar one, because the Americans cannot face major international challenges by themselves. Neither can they impose their strategic agenda. It is still possible to adopt a policy different from Washington’s, as long as it withstands the assaults of time and has the support of international opinion. While a Euro-American rapprochement has taken place, it is clear that the Americans have traveled a longer road than the Europeans. And although the major issues of dissension remain, it is possible to keep them from degenerating into major crises.... The Americans have acknowledged that they cannot break the Franco-German tandem.... They have also become aware, more so even than the Europeans themselves, that Europe’s power is growing. The U.S. has not become a multilateral nation abiding by international law. But it has gone from ‘multilateral if we can, unilateral if we must’ to ‘unilateral if we can, multilateral if we must.’ Multilateralism is dictated by the reality of the power struggle. The U.S. is holding to the same policy, but with a larger dose of realism, less arrogance, and a smile on their face. After having set fire to Iraq, the U.S. needs the rest of the world’s firefighters.”
"What If Bush Were Right?"
Guy Sorman commented in right-of-center Le Figaro (2/28): “The U.S. government may have won the war in Iraq. At any rate they have not lost it. The January 30 elections have justified, in the American public, the sacrifices and the casualties.... The fact that peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians may be possible re-enforces President Bush’s analysis. The elections in Afghanistan are also a feather in his cap.... In Egypt, candidates are running against Mubarak.... The initial intention of redesigning the Middle East map as a preamble to peace may have looked unrealistic at the time, but seems to be on the road to appearing achievable.... It seems perfectly clear that the Arab world has perfectly understood the principles of democratic liberalism. The Europeans were too skeptical and underestimated their desire for freedom… For the U.S., the success of the Iraqi elections means that they will continue to export democracy with whatever means possible.... Bush and the neo-cons may give the impression of hesitating between diplomacy and war. But their hesitation will be short-lived. Unless the Europeans can achieve a warming in Iran and elsewhere...the U.S. government will pursue its democratization process.”
ITALY: "The Four Days That Convinced Europe"
Alberto Pasolini Zanelli stated on the front page of pro-government, leading center-right daily Il Giornale (2/26): “The true motive behind the U.S. President’s European trip was not to convince the leaders of the Old Europe of something...but to resume a dialogue following the short circuit which blocked it for more than two years. Now George is speaking with Vladimir, Gerhard and Jacques, although a rehab of intentions and politics is yet to come. They spoke about Iraq in order to “bury” it. They also spoke of current problems. But Bush seems to have overcome this phase as well...to pursue his new priority instead, which is the spread of democracy everywhere and in a relatively short period of time; a dynamic concept of foreign policy that may include a risk of 'overexposure,' to which European leaders and electors devote little attention, preferring the essentially conservative traditional American line...to the liberal and perhaps even destabilizing one pursued by Bush.”
AUSTRIA: "Europe Is Lacking Self-Confidence"
Chief editor for mass circulation daily Kurier Peter Rabl opined on (2/28): "The preconditions for more self-confident dealings on the part of Europe with the U.S. would be there. True, the U.S. is the only remaining and undisputed military superpower. However, Europe could easily match the economic power behind this military prowess. The strong euro is just a symbol.... The elimination of all restraints and the renunciation of all options to exert political control over globalization is not in the Europeans' interest. What they must do is to once again give a basis to their historically-tested model of social market economy--the sooner, the better. This is only possible in contrast to the U.S. and its ideology of free markets and unrestrained capitalism which politics can only serve. The Americans cannot demand exceptions for themselves; they must adhere to international law and must not claim special rights for themselves, as Bill Clinton's Secretary of State Madeleine Albright postulated a short while ago. This is a matter of course which Europe ought to push through with due self-confidence."
"Old America And Old Europe"
Senior editor for centrist daily Die Presse Michael Fleischhacker editorialized on (2/28): "From a geopolitical point of view, the Europeans are still steeped in Cold-War thinking: The Americans guarantee security and intervene wherever necessary, and the Europeans bear the financial burden of the damage done and pay for most of the reconstruction work. That this way of thinking is changing is not due to the fact that military expenditures or the readiness of the U.S. to intervene have declined. It is because Europe has become an economic power that wants to cash in on the dividend, but at the same time deplores the hegemonic attitude of its American partner.... Old America and Old Europe: This would probably be a good model for dealing even with the new challenges--provided the Europeans learn to be content with the role of junior partner."
BULGARIA: "Pursuit Of The New Transatlantic Dialogue"
Nationalist, stridently anti-US daily "Monitor" commented (3/1): "Europe today needs a dialogue with the U.S. on equal footing. This kind of a dialogue could only be executed within the U.S.- EU format.... It's clear that the EU as a partner in the future dialogue will not be in as strong position as the U.S. Firstly, the EU remains a union and not a federal organization and secondly because even after the adoption of the European constitution the EU president won't have the rights and the power of the American president.... In this dialogue the U.S. will be more 'equal' than Europe, but this should not be an excuse for Washington to delay opportunities for creating a new framework for its relationship with Europe and the EU, in particular."
DENMARK: "Lacking Identity Makes European Focus On U.S."
Foreign editor Tom Jensen wrote in center-right Berlingske Tidende (2/28): "One thing became clear during President Bush's visit to Europe--the Americans and the American press are very clear about their own identity. American knows what it is in a way that Europeans simply do not.... Look how difficult the recent debate about Turkey joining the E.U. was for Europeans. In the end if was so problematic, it was simply brushed aside. Europeans would rather look at America's faults than focus on our own. Is this a good sign for Europe?"
"Necessity Is The Mother Of Diplomacy"
Samuel Rachlin of TV2 remarked in center-right Jyllands-Posten (2/27): "The transatlantic relationship has been through a serious crisis and now requires intensive marriage guidance counseling. On the surface, at least, after Bush and Rice's recent charm offensives, it appears that relations are looking much better.... But, although both Bush and European leaders might consider the mission of bringing the two powers closer together to have been accomplished, it seems that divides over a number of salient issues could continue to present problems. Bush held out the olive branch by supporting ongoing diplomatic negotiations with Iran. In classic American double speak, Bush ridiculed the notion of the U.S. attacking Iran, only to add, in the very next sentence: 'That said, all possibilities are still on the table.' In the final analysis, what keeps diplomatic relations with Europe and Russia together is necessity. Behind all the smiles and the make-up, everyone knows what the situation is when leaders convene."
"Maintain Values, Uphold Principles"
Editor-in-Chief, Tøger Seidenfaden stated in center-left Politiken (2/28): "The soft, but sophisticated European approach to foreign policy only makes sense if we don't lose sight of our values. If we fail to stand firmly by our principles, like Bush, even though he appears naïve, we could end up moving developments in countries like Iran, the wrong way."
GREECE: “Europeans Demand Real Dialogue”
Brussels correspondent Constantinos Kallergis wrote in independent influential mass-circulation Sunday Kathimerini (2/27): “President Bush, possibly the most disliked White House tenant by Europeans, became last Tuesday the first American President who…recognized the European Union by meeting in Brussels with the European Commission President and leaders of 25 member states in the form of the European Council. On the level of symbolism, the American President’s visit was impeccable.... Symbols draw their value from the realities they reflect. And the question is to what extent this visit marks a new reality for Europeans in their relationship with the U.S..... On the collective level, what is sought by the Europeans is for Washington to prove that, after four years of pompous contempt, it wishes a new, substantial cooperation with its allies.”
“Bush Visit Produced Little Substance"
Stathis Efstathiadis commented in influential opposition mass circulation Sunday To Vima (2/27): “His two-day trip to Europe was a symbolic gesture to his European allies. President Bush’s objective was to display that in decision-making on issues that may have an impact on European interests he will be taking into account European positions. He had nothing specific to offer, nor did he leave anyone complaining.... Transatlantic relations were not strengthened, nor were any of the problems that triggered frictions among allies addressed. The smiles and handshakes showed nothing more than polite and civilized people.”
“He Came, Saw, But Did Not Win"
Foreign news editor Amalia Negreponti wrote in opposition top circulation Saturday Ta Nea (2/26) : “The U.S. President departed Europe having achieved an uncomfortable ceasefire. Everybody knows well that no important decision was made. Everybody also knows that the disagreements between U.S. and Europe remain. In spite of the above, all appear satisfied with the President’s visit.”
"He Worked Things Out With Europe, Not Russia.”
Washington correspondent Michalis Ignatiou opined in pro-opposition large circulation Sunday Ethnos (2/27): “Almost all agree with the estimate that President Bush brought transatlantic relations back to the level they were before the war on Iraq, but also stress, and very rightly so, that he opened a front with Vladimir Putin that will create tough problems and reopen old wounds.”
IRELAND: "Old Foes"
The center right, populist daiy Irish Independent editorialized (2/26): “Relations between America and much of Europe have been stormy to say the least since the American-led invasion of Iraq. There have been particularly heated exchanges between Washington on the one hand, and Paris and Berlin on the other. President Bush's visit to Europe this week was intended in large part to mend fences and it went some way towards achieving this although tensions remain and could easily re-erupt. In a way, this week was a case of 'back to the future'. Old allies are trying to bury the hatchet and old rivals are brandishing them once more. The most frosty meeting of the week took place between President Bush and Russia's President Putin. The reality is that Washington and Moscow are snarling at one another again. Washington is especially unhappy at Russia for selling weaponry to Syria and nuclear fuel to Iran. So are we in a new Cold War? The short answer is no. There is no fear of a new Iron Curtain rising. But certainly we are in for a period of colder relationships between two old foes.”
KOSOVO: "Bush In Europe"
Independent weekly Zeri editorialized (2/26): “Rarely happens that a single image, one that is not related at all to a big natural disaster, occupies the headlines of all world’s media. This time it was an expected thing: The president of the U.S.A., George W. Bush chose to make his first and very important visit (at the beginning of his second mandate) to Europe.... At the very beginning of his second mandate, President Bush wants to bring America and Europe as close as possible, thus entering a new phase of transatlantic cooperation. As it is known, the media has paid an extraordinary attention to every step that Bush made in Europe, to his statements and to the statements of his European hosts, to symbolic gestures of both sides... However, only the months to come will show what has really been achieved during this historic visit. When America and Europe are together there is no problem in the world that cannot be solved, President Bush said in Brussels among others. This message naturally holds true for Kosovo that is still hanging and with an undetermined status. Talks that Bush had with the leaders of the European Union and NATO herald a soon start of the resolution of Kosovo issue.”
LUXEMBOURG: "To Listen And Hear"
Director Danièle Fonck commented in left-of-center Le Jeudi (2/24): "The quality of human relations is determined, it is said, by communication. The latter exists only if one really wants, beforehand, to listen to others and show understanding. To hear pain, a complaint, an argument, an ardent wish: to understand what is expressed, to reflect on it to follow up in one sense or another, thus are defined relations between people and states. George W. Bush came to Europe, seemed to listen and expressed himself in turn. Did he hear European sensibilities, understand the direction of the steps of the twenty-five who favor diplomacy over a simple show of force? Did the Europeans, in turn, hear correctly? The fact that there was contact and a beginning of discussion is a positive point that one would be wrong to denigrate. But from there to conclude that there is a change of orientation would be naive and imprudent. An impression should be confirmed by the facts; a promise must be followed by action."
"Take Bush At His Word"
Foreign Affairs Editor Wolf von Leipzig reflected in conservative Luxemburger Wort (2/23): “True partnership must be approximately equally balanced. This is only conceivable on the basis of a partnership USA-EU. NATO keeps its right to exist as a ‘life insurance’ in an existential way and as a frame for common military actions. But it has to be more than a ‘coalition of the willing’, so to speak a box of spare parts for U.S. military action."
"Bush Fever In Europe"
Deputy Editor in Chief Nic Dicken commented in liberal Lëtzebuerger Journal (2/23): "There will be no peace and of renunciation of terrorism as long as the right of the strongest will be forced by force of arms. As long as this doctrine prevails, George W. Bush too and in particular, will not be able to move in any part of the world in spite of his unlimited abundance of power. His most recent statements do not show that he already understood this bitter truth.”
NORWAY: “Boots On The Ground”
Halvor Elvik commented in the independent Dagbladet (2/28): “The President’s charm offensive in Europe was a recruiting campaign. Bush needs more ‘boots on the ground,’ and more rich cousins to pay the tab for the special militarism which has become U.S. foreign policy on his watch.... Absent was any form of critical recognition that the U.S.A.’s bellicose foreign policy over the past four years was a step backwards for the international community governed by law, for all international cooperative organizations and for peaceful conflict resolution. The world has not become a more peaceful, more orderly and civilized place, but rather more dangerous, less predictable and more polemic. It is not about catching Osama bin Laden and bringing him to justice, but more and more it is about a large-scale changing of regimes. Syria keeps moving up on the hit-list of the neo-conservatives, while Great Britain, France and Germany for now still get to conduct negotiations with Iran. ‘All options are still on the table,’ Bush said at the same time as he characterized the fear of a U.S. military attack on Iran as ‘completely ridiculous,’ but still ‘on the table.’... An international community governed by law means that the hyperpower, the hegemon, would have to give up some of its power. No way, José, as they say in Texas.”
“George W. Bush In Senior’s Footsteps”
Senior Editor Per Egil Hegge commented in the newspaper of record Aftenposten (2/26): “The current President has convinced even his critics, especially in Berlin and Paris, that he will use more than manual power if the United States feels threatened. And regardless of the criticism against Americans for going it alone and their arrogance in Iraq, the future policy of alliances cannot be built on anything else but the completed or halfway completed results: Saddam Hussein has been brought down. Iraq has carried out an election. Yassir Arafat’s people have been sidelined. The Europeans negotiate with Iran on the nuclear program. Syria is to be reprimanded. These are the underlying realities of the wonderful words that were either accepted or brusquely rejected, depending on whom Bush talked with--Chirac, Schroeder or Putin. The U.S. President’s toughest task could be to convince his conservative critics at home that he is reading the Russian Head of State correctly. After his first meeting with him, in Slovenia in June of 2001, Bush said he had ‘looked into his soul’ and that this was a man to be trusted.... But any American who returns home and says you can trust the Russians has a challenging PR-job in front of him in the domestic political society, not the least among the Republicans…The thing that didn’t follow the changes on the European political landscape 15 years ago was what the first President Bush promised: A New World Order. The son is in the process of creating this one in his own image, again it is freedom’s contagious idea that will light the fire in the spirit of mankind--first and foremost in the Middle East.”
POLAND: "The First Round Is For The Americans"
Jedrzej Bielecki wrote in centrist Rzeczpospolita (2/28): “The first round is over in the dispute between the United States and the old Europe over views of the world. President Bush’s visit to our continent was an occasion to sum up the results. Even with white gloves and courtesy toward his hosts, the American proved that the victory is his.... The visit of the American president confirmed that Poland had backed the right horse by supporting the intervention in Iraq--and, in broader terms, Washington’s policy. When it comes to strategic security matters, the Americans are irreplaceable. And as the rather cold tone of the Bush-Schroeder conversation in Mainz shows, Poland is well on its way toward winning the position of Washington’s main ally in this part of Europe.”
"Dispensation Will Not Be Granted"
Radek Sikorski opined in right-of-center weekly Wprost (2/28): “American-European reconciliation is a fragile plant that must be carefully nurtured. Instead of complaining that the tangible results of President George Bush’s visit to Europe are meager, we should be happy that disputes were put aside.... But dangerous traps lurk on the way toward renewed Atlantic cooperation.... One thing that can thwart repairs in the Transatlantic Alliance is the relationship with China. Europe brags that its model of democracy and respect for human rights is better than the American one, but at the same time it wants to export arms to the one-party dictatorship that destroys the culture of Tibet, maintains gulags, and openly threatens democratic Taiwan with use of force. Has China become a democracy since crashing student protests in Tiananmen Square?... To sell European technology that could be used against American troops in the Far East would be a hostile act. Given the reaction this would evoke in the Pentagon and Congress, arming China with state-of-the-art technology would likely be the beginning of the end of the Atlantic Alliance.”
"Three Times 'Nein'"
Krystyna Grzybowska wrote in right-of-center weekly Wprost (2/28): “The world is changing rapidly, but the Europe of Schroeder and Chirac does not see it--or does not accept it. One cannot expect a real reconciliation with the U.S., because no one in Europe wants it. A continuation of the grotesque rivalry and new tensions should be expected instead. It is barely possible to arrive in such an ossified and self-centered Europe with open arms--as was expected of Bush. One should rather get on his knees and beg for mercy to win gratitude and sympathy--which is still not a sure thing.”
PORTUGAL: "Transatlantic Distrust"
Assistant Editor-in-Chief João Morgado Fernandes penned in respected center-left daily Diário de Notícias (2/25): “It is true that Bush made a point of visiting European institutions, the Commission and Council, in an unprecedented sign of recognition of the European Union. But, in spite of speeches full of well-intentioned, reconciliatory words, the truth is that the U.S. and Europe are condemned, given the current state of world affairs, to maintain an elevated degree of tension in their bilateral relations. Under the Bush’s direction, the U.S. has committed itself to the role of exclusive superpower, while the EU-endowed with a common currency and enlarged to the limit of its physical space--has legitimate aspirations to play a [larger] role in the governance of the world. In the future, the respective aims of each side of the Atlantic are destined to clash. Washington will only be interested in a strong Europe to the extent that it, without much discussion, aligns itself [to Washington’s policies]. By the same token, Europe will always find itself discomfited by American hegemony in all spheres. Such [mutual] distrust will only be overcome when Europe becomes [U.S.'s] partner in ambition and power--military, economic and political.”
"A Positive Balance"
Editor-in-chief José Manuel Fernandes noted in influential moderate left daily Público (2/25): “How will George W. Bush’s trip to Europe be remembered? As a relaunching of the transatlantic alliance, or as an inglorious attempt to do so?... [I]t is undeniable that George W. Bush made an attempt to draw near the European allies, that the U.S. gave signs that it would not only listen to the voices of leaders of the Old World, and is prepared to converge [with Europe] in sensitive/delicate areas such as making peace in the Middle East or controlling Iran'ss nuclear ambitions.... In contrast, there are areas where little or nothing advanced. In the American column is, above all, the practically nothing it offered in relation to the combat against climate change. In Europe’s column remains the little progress made, still little more than symbolic, in the reconstruction of Iraq and, above all, its insistence on lifting the arms embargo against China."
"The Worst Was Avoided"
Pro/US political analyst/Lusiad University political science Prof. Vasco Rato wrote in the center-right weekly Independente (2/25): “This week’s NATO summit in Brussels, was a positive signal because it avoided a further breach between Americans and Europeans. However, the questions which separate America and Europe are far from being resolved.... [T]here are questions, sooner or later, that could result in misunderstandings between European-that is, some European countries-and the U.S..... [Regarding China] If the Europeans insist on lifting the [arms] embargo, it should not be ruled out that the [U.S.] Congress might impose retaliatory measures against the EU. Washington’s chief fear continues to be Taiwan’s security and the commitments which the U.S. has made in that part of the globe.... The other question which divides Americans and Europeans is Iran’s nuclear capacity. Both agree about the necessity of impeding its nuclearization but diverge concerning the appropriate strategy to follow to block the nuclear ambitions of the ‘ayatollahs’.... The peace [process] in the Middle East-specifically the Israel-Palestine conflict--divides Washington and Europe. Such divergences were partially solved by the developments which followed the death of Yassir Arafat.... The questions which continue to divide Washington and Brussels are multiple and complex but, apparently, the worst was avoided.”
"The End Of The Atlantic Crisis?"
Influential Catholic University international security studies scholar Prof. Miguel Monjardino opined in newly-created newsweekly Sabado (2/25): "Europeans know very well that, on balance, the relationship with the U.S. over the past 60 years [since the end of WWII] has been extraordinarily positive.... The UE has global ambitions. The transatlantic relationship, therefore, has to been significantly different than it was in the past.... Bush was in Europe this week with a very clear strategic objective: reinitiate the transatlantic dialogue at the highest level.... From the point of view of Washington decision-makers, a new transatlantic alliance would be one of the best ways of achieving this equilibrium [between its aims and the means at its disposal].... Important differences remain...but there are also opportunities which Americans and Europeans can take advantage of, including the Israeli-Palestinian question, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Afghanistan. If the two sides of the Atlantic manage to negotiate a new understanding, the year 2005 could signal the end of the Atlantic crisis. It was be the best way to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.”
SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO: "New Era Or A Test Only"
Rancic commented in influential Politika (2/24): "George Bush is the first American president to visit the European Headquarters in Brussels. President Bush set on this trip of reconciliation and to request European support under the following circumstances: the EU wants to be an equal partner; Germany and France want to reform NATO; the EU has united its foreign and security policies with common goals and interests, and its first constitution is about to be adopted. In earlier days it was vice versa: the European leaders used to go to Washington for support, reconciliation, or to be scolded. Now, Bush is making American unilateralism and his personal arrogance somewhat milder. In his second term, Bush has changed his political tactics. Instead of forcing allies to join the actions that would benefit the American global interests, he is attempting to get the same result nicely, by using flattering words, reminding the Europeans of their common history and common values.... Now he wants to see a united Europe because the U.S. needs a strong ally. However, it is unlikely that Europe will accept the 'to do' list obediently because Bush's flattering tone has not covered all bones of contention. Is this the beginning of a new era in U.S.-European relations, or is this a testing period to see whether Europe will succumb to American interests?"
"Exchange Of Competence"
Ljiljana Smajlovic commented in influential weekly NIN (2/25): "The Balkans were not high on President Bush's priority list, which in ordinary language means that Kosovo was not important at all. After Bush's talks with his European allies on all important matters, nothing earth shattering has happened. The Americans have more important things to do than to deal with the Balkans and will gladly put Europe in charge regarding Kosovo. In return, the U.S. would like European assistance in the Near East where Bush's top priority actually lies. However, the Balkans is a safe issue for discussions because it creates no disputes between the U.S. and the EU, and also it has been solved the way America had wanted. ... George Bush liked that the Belgian Prime Minister said that ten years ago Europe failed to intervene in the civil war in former Yugoslavia, and had to wait for the U.S. to come stop the war.... On a broader plan things are just the same: The whole of Eastern Europe should join PfP, then NATO and finally the EU, it was decided 15 years ago. And the U.S. does not care if joining NATO is a very expensive project.... However, George Bush arrived in Brussels to reconcile. Not because he decided he was too arrogant before, but because he found out, like the Serbs did after their military victory in Bosnia, that it is not enough to win a war only by fighting. One has to win in peace, or to put it in other words, the defeated side must admit that it lost. Bush will not 'really' win in Iraq until the rest of the world, Europe above all, says that things are now better in Iraq than before the American soldiers got there. And for that, he needs not only to break Iraqi armed resistance but to fight European skepticism. It is for those reasons that he made several mild gestures. The first is that he flew to Brussels first which means that he came to talk with Europe and not only his favorite British or Dutch allies. Of course, he still is attempting to make the EU behave the way he wants in Iran, the Near East, in Asia and China. But regarding the Balkans, he has already persuaded Europe to be on the same page, partly because he has wanted to leave this region for a long time.... It looks as if one of the results of Bush's visit to Europe will be a silent consent to make Kosovo a European problem and not a U.S. problem...or to make it an European protectorate.
SPAIN: "Thank You, Friend"
Andres Ortega stated in left-of-center daily El País (2/28): "Who would have said two years ago that George W. Bush, re-elected, would speak of the need for a 'strong Europe'? Regarding the Iraq war...he managed to divide Europe in the 'old' and the 'new' one.... Involuntarily, (he) has contributed to unite those Europes.... His trip to Brussels has been the official confirmation that 'Europe'...counts today as a political power.... Regarding Israel and Palestine, it is no longer a question of the EU's pressure on the Palestinians, and Washington's on the Israeli, in order to put the peace process back on track, but about common pressure, although the money for Palestinian reconstruction will essentially come from Europe.... (Another issue is) of course, Iraq, where the EU has started to make a modest effort to train judges, prosecutors and policemen, really in its line of 'soft power', although it believes there is no solution within sight. And China, to which Europeans, in order to be taken seriously by Beijing, cannot do anything but to lift the embargo to sell arms, although this annoys the U.S. for commercial reasons and of the strategic balance with Taiwan.... The new great problem opened by Bush may be now how to deal with Putin, since this divides the Europeans.... Not all Republican circles follow the line...of the 'new Bush' who, however, has not gone so far as to publicly support the ratification of the European Constitution.... (He) has changed his tune. One has now to see if this results in keeping his neoconservatives at bay and in concrete decisions. For the Europeans, it is also a challenge: showing now that they have the strength attributed to them by Bush and are able to work together and with the U.S. A way to do that is that the European Constitution is ratified by the 25. Otherwise, the EU will loose credibility."
TURKEY: "The Bush Message In Bratislava"
Erdal Safak wrote in the mass appeal Sabah (2/28): “The message from President Bush in Bratislava indicates a two-tier vision of democracy developed by the US. The first part of this democratization vision pertained to the former Soviet Union, a process that began during the Reagan era and led to the independence of East European and Central Asian countries. The second phase of the vision covers the countries of the Middle East region. The magnitude and influence of the broader Middle East project is undeniable. The most recent tangible evidence came from Egypt, as the Egyptian president announced a package of democratic and constitutional reforms. This process seems to be expanding throughout the Middle East.”
"Bush And Europe"
Yasemin Congar wrote in the mass appeal Milliyet (2/28): “Washington has reached some points of agreement with Europe regarding Iraq and Syria. The Bush-Chirac meeting resulted in a significant improvement on the anger that had characterized the U.S.-French relationship on the Iraq issue. But NATO’s 2.5 million dollar commitment for the training of Iraqi security forces remains far short of U.S. expectations. … The most important factor enhancing the Bush administration’s position on Iraq and Syria comes from the growing voice of the people in the Middle East. The Europeans have already realized the importance of this. Turkey needs to pay attention as well. The January 30 elections in Iraq reflected the Iraqi people’s will to define their future. The assassination of Hariri led to the revival of a popular movement demanding a Syrian withdrawal from Lebabon. Positive developments on Israeli-Palestinian relations have led to a common approach to combat terrorism. These are all positive signs coming from the people on their way toward reform, peace, and democracy in the region.”
CHINA (HONG KONG, SAR): "Cold-war Mentality Check Arms Sales To China"
The independent Chinese-language Ming Pao Daily News editorialized (2/25): "U.S. President Bush made his first visit to Europe of his second term. It is obvious that he hoped to mend the rifts between the U.S. and Europe caused by the war in Iraq. However, the plan of the European Union to lift the 15-year ban on arms sales to China became the major issue for their discussion. After failing to convince the European Union to listen to the objection of the U.S., Bush put forward the threat that the U.S. Congress might adopt retaliatory measures. It can be seen that the U.S. has always kept a wary eye on China and it does not have any trust on China.... Just look at the performance of Bush and the U.S. Congress on the issue of the European Union lifting the ban on arms sales to China; one can see that Bush still has a strong cold-war mentality on China's peaceful ascendancy. Whenever the U.S. comes across with any big issue, its cold-war mentality will be totally revealed."
INDONESIA: "Bush’s Visit To Europe"
Business-oriented daily Analisa of Medan commented (2/28): “As predicted, during his visit to Europe, U.S. President George W. Bush reminded Europe about the joint struggle against terrorism and the spread of democracy, the ‘struggle’ that increases the dispute between the U.S. and Europe, including the Iranian nuclear issue. However, in general Bush got a ‘plus’ for his performance during his five-day visit in Europe… At least the U.S. government now is ready to reconsider its rejection to actively help discussions between the EU and Teheran. And from his visit to Europe, hopefully Bush will realize that his passion for war did not receive support from his allies in Europe.”
THAILAND: "Bush's Trip Does Europe Little Good"
The lead editorial in the top-circulation, moderately conservative, English language Bangkok Post read (2/26): "The much publicized trip by United States President George W. Bush to Europe this week, dubbed a fence-mending exercise, has ended with the posts back up and the wire threaded. There is no doubt that Washington will consider this trip highly successful. Mr. Bush secured his 25 North Atlantic Treaty Organization counterparts' pledge to help train Iraqi security forces, while the European Union has offered to train Iraqi judges and police. Considering that many major European nations refused to join the U.S.-led war in Iraq, this must be considered a major coup for Washington and proves that time and diplomacy are beginning to heal the wounds created by the invasion of Iraq.... But while Washington can go away patting itself on the back, European leaders should hang their heads for missing what was a great opportunity to further their power on the world's stage. In recent years, the Europeans have been complaining that the U.S. is taking a domineeringly bilateral approach to the world. Despite ample opportunities to put forward their views and policies and what direction they think the world should be headed, nothing was said, leaving the whole stage for Mr. Bush."
SOUTH AFRICA: “Building Bridges”
Liberal Cape Times commented (2/28): “President Bush’s charm offensive to Europe last week seems to have succeeded in repairing the serious damage caused by the Iraq war. That is good. This traditional alliance of democracies is important to the world and should not be broken.... Bush realized that a strong, united Europe is in America’s broader interest of pursuing democracy around the world… Europe also seems to have realized that it cannot do without America.... One hopes, now that the option of military force [against Iran] has been taken off the table, Europe will use more diplomatic muscle to stop Iran going nuclear. Many disagreements remain between the old allies… But, critically important for global stability, the cracks…have been repaired. The world is probably a safer place because of that.”
BRAZIL: "Bush’s Magic Trip To Europe"
Washington correspondent Paulo Sotero declared in center-right O Estado de S. Paulo (2/27): “President George W. Bush’s well played trip to Europe produced the results aimed by the White House. Images of U.S. newspapers and television coverage of Bush’s visit to Belgium, Germany and Slovakia did not show protests, but a warmly welcomed and even celebrated leader. In addition to the impression of more harmony between friendly leaders who had barely been speaking to each other because of the invasion of Iraq, what the trip seems to have more substantively produced was a magic rapprochement between the U.S. and Europe in regards to Iran’s delicate nuclear issue, and they did not have to change their positions because of that.”
ARGENTINA: "China, Russia And The U.S."
Leading Clarin editorialized (2/28): "President Bush went to Europe in search of 'rapprochement' with the Western world, based on common topics, and with the purpose of broadening the foundation of international action capable of coping with threats to security and peace. Nevertheless, differences cropped up in negotiations with France, Germany and the United Kingdom about dissuading Iran from its nuclear development plans, as well as the arms sale to China, whose embargo is criticized by the EU. The agreements and disagreements with Russia, confirmed during the Bush-Putin summit in Bratislava, show the persistency of a 'bloc' policy that tends to encourage the periodical reappearance of tensions between key powers, like in the old days of a bi-polar world. Bush's warnings to China, the disagreements with Russia and the differences with Europe over Iran show that policies aimed at power balance and dissuasive threat in the international scenario are still alive."
"Bush Ends Europe Tour With Ovation From Slovakians"
Silvia Pisani, on special assignment in Bratislava for daily-of-record La Nacion remarked (2/25): "Clearly, many Americans don't know where it is. But it's highly possible that President George W. Bush will always carry Slovakia in his heart, a country whose people stood hours in the snow in order to listen to him, give him a standing ovation and present him the best popular reception given to him by a country in the EU after the war in Iraq. The U.S. President concluded his EU tour in Bratislava, after becoming the king of popularity, something that differs completely from the effort he had to make in order to obtain support in Belgium and Germany. There he tried to iron out differences and attempt reconciliation after his confusing reasons for going into Baghdad. Behind closed doors he also met with his Russian counterpart Putin, with whom he advanced the signing of a protocol on nuclear protection. But there were no changes regarding his deep discrepancies on the situation of political rights in Russia, or the 'manipulation of democratic values', criticized by Putin.... Though Bush let Putin take the lead during their visit to this city, the Russian will hardly reach the level of popular support the Texan has here, and which confirms--in this part of Europe--that Slovakia's heart beats 'in sync' with the 'American friend'.... Bush's 25-minute speech was interrupted 14 times, an absolute record of acceptance in his European tour.... So, in a friendly land, Bush was able to end his tour as if the previous days hadn't taken place: with a moving defense of freedom, as Man's most precious good, but also including the issue of Iraq, Afghanistan and the need to keep fighting away from home, in the name...of that freedom."
COSTA RICA: "U.S.--Europe Reciprocity"
La Nacion editoriaIized (2/25): "Bush's visit to Europe has caused commotion and new protest opportunities, while paradoxically also sowing notable achievements in his meetings with European leaders, who responded favorably to his proposal to channel alliances positively. Anti-American sentiment fed for years not only by minority group rebellions, but also by the resentful attitude of others who see with bitter eyes the power that emanates both from [Bush] and the country he represents. So now all these groups joined again and provoked the most diverse reactions from applause to tantrums. Paradoxical in human history, that these same Europeans--as in WWII--needed help to get out of a mess, the U.S. did not hesitate to give it, including the blood of its sons, to help Europe move forward. Of course, no one says these things out loud since intellectuals, leaders, and government officials belong to the Left and are on occasion more in line with communist regimes than as representatives of sovereign, democratic, free republics. In contrast to their marvelous culture, the seed many Europeans have left in past and recent epochs has been slavery, subjugated, impoverished colonies, intervention and unbridled exploitation of human and natural resources, giving nothing in return. Obvious examples are Haiti, Jamaica, and various African countries. But they also show a kind of "complex" with the U.S., which in a few centuries grew large, made important advances in health, technology, trade, art, and many other sectors, and exported its achievements, fashions, and customs to other regions with an amazing success. Definitely, Europe needs the U..S and vice versa. And the opportunity to build closer ties, as civilized regions should, was opened by Bush, who although heading one of the richest and most powerful countries in the world, is it seems, less affected.
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