To round out our survey of initial national press reactions to the draft EU constitution unveiled for the public this past week, today we examine selections from out of the German press. (more…)
Archive for May, 2003
Returning to its non-English-language roots, EuroSavant today examines reactions to the unveiling of the draft EU constitution on the Continent (or “in Europe,” as certain British newspapers are wont to call that land mass stretching out on the other side of the Channel – as if they don’t happen to be part of it, legally, administratively, and even historically). And yes, loyal and long-standing €S readers, we first consider France. Surely there everyone is firmly on the side of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the Constitutonal Convention’s president, and his draft document. (more…)
Today’s subject is the new EU constitution, which was released to the public this past week in four installments, and specifically about the reaction in the country where that has been most vociferous – namely the United Kingdom. Yes, this once again means a weblog entry that belies EuroSavant’s self-description as “Commentary on the European non-English-language press.” But the unveiling of the EU Constitutional Convention’s draft constitution has converged with an outbreak of public discussion over British adoption of the euro – ahead of Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown’s speech scheduled for June 9 as to whether the country is at the stage where a referendum over the euro would be appropriate – to produce some truly noteworthy reporting and commentary to which I thought I would draw your attention. Even NATO does not escape unscathed. (more…)
The referendum dates for EU accession for Poland (7-9 June) and the Czech Republic (13-14 June) are drawing near, and will surely provide ample grist for the EuroSavant mill – soon, if not right now.
Right now, I’d like to discuss an interesting scandal raging in the Czech Republic. Interesting, because it reflects an ongoing problem for former Soviet block countries which have joined the NATO alliance, or which have been invited to or otherwise would like to, and also because it happens to implicate the current President of the United Nations General Assembly, the former Czech foreign minister Jan Kavan. (more…)
Time now to switch from overtly political subjects – the lifting of Iraqi sanctions at the UN Security Council – to a phenomenon which may seem apolitical (in fact, it’s downright shmaltzy) but which contains within itself potentially very serious political implications. I refer here to the Eurovision Song Contest, which came to its conclusion on Saturday night by declaring the Turkish entry, “Everyway [sic] That I Can,” sung by Ms. Sertab Erener, the winner of the 26-nation competition. (Those of you from outside of the European continent who don’t know what I’m talking about – or, bless you, even those of you who actually live in Europe but still haven’t a clue – click here for an explanation.) That Turkey would win – and for the very first time in the contest’s 48-year existence – is serious enough. Really: serious. I’m working on an essay on the subject, to tell you what I mean. When I post its link to the left side of this website under “My Articles,” I’ll re-edit this entry to announce this and give you the link directly.
But right here I’d rather like to call your attention to the other end of the scale, namely the very bottom, occupied for the year 2003 by Great Britain whose entry, the song “Cry Baby” by the boy-girl duo JEMINI, came in dead last with zero points. (more…)
Today we treat the German view of the recent 14-0 vote of the UN Security Council (on which Germany now serves as a non-permanent member) to lift most sanctions against Iraq. (more…)
Yesterday the UN Security Council voted 14-0 for a resolution to lift the UN sanctions on Iraq that dated to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait of August, 1990, and thereby to grant allied forces now present in Iraq considerable international authority in the occupation and rebuilding of the country. For a while it had looked as if the Security Council would fail to agree on such a lifting of sanctions in much the same manner as it had failed to agree on authorization for the attack on Iraq, and with the same core of opposition from France, Germany, and Russia. While the American-British “coalition” argued that, with Hussein’s regime consigned to history, the sanctions’ purpose and target had clearly disappeared, so that the legal framework needed to be restored for international transactions undertaken for the benefit of the Iraqi people (most especially oil sales), these latter countries recognized that such UN approval represented the last leverage they had left to insert the UN and the international community generally into some sort of position of influence over what is to become of Iraq. There was also the issue of trying to head off any sort of cancellation of debts incurred by Hussein’s regime to their countries and/or companies of their nationality, and they were unwilling to make any gesture that could be construed as an ex post facto approval of the war that the Security Council never approved before it was unleashed. So French, German, and Russian diplomats and their political bosses in the past few weeks have tried to head off the lifting of sanctions by adopting the rather cynical pose that, after all, sanctions were imposed subject to lifting only when Iraq had been cleared of the presence of weapons of mass destruction, and that had not happened yet. (The fact that extensive searching has yet to uncover significant signs of Iraqi WMD could very well be important, in the sense of making a case for a certain element of deception having been employed to make the original case for war, but it has no relevance to the lifting of Iraqi sanctions; no matter what, Iraq clearly no longer represents any WMD or otherwise military danger to its neighbors or to the international community generally.)
But now sanctions are lifted, and by a unanimous Security Council vote minus the abstention of Syria – that is, completely lifted, and not just “suspended,” as had been a mooted halfway-house solution during the recent diplomatic stand-off over the issue. True, to get here there were certain concessions made from the allied side – e.g. enhanced powers for the UN special representative – but it’s unclear just how much of a sacrifice they represented in the allied position. Were there winners and losers here, or was a solution reached that was truly satisfactory for all? You can get the “allied” viewpoint yourself from your favorite American/British press outlet(s), but it’s EuroSavant that can let you know what they’re saying on the “other side.” As is my habit, I start with France. (more…)
Greetings from Budapest! Which immediately gives rise to the question, in our EuroSavant context, of “What’s going on in the Hungarian press?” Which immediately gives rise to my answer of “Well, remember that mere momentary location really need have nothing to do with what appears on these pages, since EuroSavant itself is predicated on the wondrous power of the Internet to make much of the world’s press available to the curious web-surfer no matter where s/he might be, as long as there’s Internet access. Besides, hyperlinks to the articles I discuss, allowing readers also able to read the language in question to see for themselves what is actually written in a discussed article, are an important element of my entries – as links in general are for most weblogs – so that local availability of the paper editions is less than completely useful.”
To which you might respond “Point taken.” Or you might reply instead “Don’t give me any of your windy pontification, you pompous on-line $&*&^%#$$! To my understanding your function is not supposed to be standing up on a cyber-soapbox to cyber-nit-pick, but rather to give us some idea of what the European media is writing in languages we don’t understand – and you’re awfully late in getting to that here!” Right then – let’s take a look . . . (more…)
EuroSavant needs to travel a bit again – this time to Budapest, on a business trip. I’ll be back and will resume posting next Sunday, 25 May. My Internet access in the meantime won’t disappear, but will be irregular. I can’t predict whether during my travels I’ll actually get the sort of extended access needed to do a bit of on-line research and actually post something. E-mail correspondents should similarly grant me a little extra time for sending a reply.
One of EuroSavant’s reader services, as regular visitors to this site will have noticed from past entries, is tracking the series of referenda by which EU candidate countries will (presumably) approve their entry into EU membership on 1 May 2004. Earlier this month Lithuanians voted in favor. This weekend it was the turn of Slovakia, and according to most press reports the important question was not whether “Yes” votes would prevail, but whether there would be enough votes cast, whether “Yes” or “No,” to attain at least the level of 50% participation which would make the referendum valid. It seems that that did indeed come to pass: according to the president of the Slovak electoral commission, Julius Fodor, 52.15% of eligible votes were cast, of which 92.46% were in favor of EU accession. (more…)
EuroSavant is back, and so back on the lookout for interesting items out of the European news that you won’t find reported in the Western Hemisphere. Before embarking again on an examination of some larger theme – that “old favorite” of US-European diplomatic relations looks like it may be a good candidate to be taken up again, given Colin Powell’s arrival tonight in Berlin – here’s a tidbit out of Belgium, where a criminal complaint has been filed in a Brussels federal court against War in Iraq commanding general Tommy Franks for having permitted war crimes to be committed by soldiers under his command in the recent conflict. (more…)
EuroSavant is taking a few days off to head to sunny Barcelona, Spain. I expect to resume posting this upcoming Thursday, 15 May 2003, by around 12:00 noon UTC (that’s 8:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time, 7:00 AM Central Daylight Time, etc.). So all e-mail correspondents need to reckon with possible delays in my response.
I’m taking along with me as food for serious thought an article from the on-line edition of the Hamburg weekly Die Zeit, Wir haben’s gerate nötig (“It’s just what we need”), by Richard Herzinger, which I would recommend to all of you who can read German and are interested in Germany’s current place in the post-War in Iraq world. (more…)
“Punish France, ignore Germany, forgive Russia”: that was US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice’s formulation last month of Washington’s post-war approach towards those major European powers which had proven so uncooperative to America’s designs in the run-up to the War in Iraq. Germany could well count itself lucky to fall under “ignore” rather than “punish”; at least that leaves the field open for Gerhard Schröder’s government to take initiatives of its own to try to reconstruct the formerly close American-German relationship and have Schröder and President Bush officially speaking to each other again.
It’s true that German Defense Minister Peter Struck’s visit last week to Washington was uncharacteristically low-key – not one photo of a smiling Struck shaking hands with his American counterpart Donald Rumsfeld to be seen, for example. And the Germans do not help their case by letting acid comments by their high officials slip out into the light of international press scrutiny, as we discussed here in EuroSavant, although it seems that that one did not slip out very far. (Who knows? Maybe the incident never happened at all – but I tend to grant the Times of London, which reported it, a large share of benefit-of-the-doubt.) But the German press is continuing to report and analyze this effort by its government to get back into the American good graces. (more…)
Once again Iraq is causing divisions within NATO. This time it’s between the Poles and the Germans. In one respect, this is nothing new: Chancellor Schröder’s SPD-Green administration had always made it clear that it would not support a war in Iraq, in any way, even if it were given official United Nations approval – e.g. if the so-called “Second Resolution” had passed the Security Council. On the other hand, Poland was one of the few nations (the others including only Australia and Albania) to actually send troops to contribute to the military effort of the War in Iraq. In fact, Polish commandos did some rather good work in securing Iraqi oil platforms offshore in the Persian Gulf once hostilities got under way.
But the war phase is now over, and the occupation phase has begun. (more…)
Europe is being rude to the US again, it seems – but thankfully this time only a few of our English friends noticed.
Strangely enough, my regular forays through the American and European press had led me to believe that Chancellor Schröder’s government in Germany, above all, was eager to to mend relations with the US after the rather serious difference-of-opinion about Iraq. Nonetheless, we apparently have one Jürgen Chrobog, State Secretary of the German Auswärtiges Amt (Foreign Office), instructing a regularly-scheduled meeting of all German ambassadors that the US is becoming a “police state,” as it is “restricting more and more its civic liberties at home.” (more…)
US military bases in the Czech Republic! There is now talk of that, and Czech politicians are now arranging themselves on either side of that issue.
The talk up to now has been not about the Czech Republic but rather about Romania and Bulgaria, which SACEUR chief General James Jones recently described as “extremely good candidates” for US military bases. Indeed, the Sarafovo airbase in eastern Bulgaria proved extremely handy during the recent war in Iraq as a location to base US refueling aircraft. But now it seems the Czech Republic is also in play – even though no official request or inquiry has yet been forthcoming from the American side. (more…)
Did you think that the supersonic transport Concorde was going the way of the dodo bird, now that both the airlines that sponsored its development and ran trans-Atlantic Concorde flights for years (Air France and British Airways) have announced that they are retiring the plane? Not so. (more…)
Germany was the odd-man-out at the recent defense summit between the German and French presidents and Belgian and Luxembourgian premiers: Chancellor Schröder’s government has been the one trying the hardest for a rapprochement with the American administration after the divisions caused by the War in Iraq. Indeed, as Anke Bryson notes in the Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung Weekly, both Schröder and his foreign minister Joschka Fischer wanted to keep this “mini-summit” a low-profile affair, out of respect for the sensibilities of the Bush Administration – “but the publicity damage had already been done.”
We’ve seen how elements of the French press took this meeting seriously, while the Belgian press was more cynical, doubting that anything would ever come of this summit taking place on its own soil. Whatever the sotto voce protestations of German officials, they did accept the invitation to attend the Brussels meeting and did show up there. It’s time to check the German press’ reactions. (more…)