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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 October 2006, 05:37 GMT 06:37 UK
European press review
European press

Papers highlight Russian President Vladimir Putin's talks in Dresden with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a visit which has been overshadowed by the killing of Russian campaigning journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Ongoing trouble at the European plane maker Airbus is also very much in the news.

Putin in Germany

Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung says Mrs Merkel has succeeded in rebalancing relations with Russia after her predecessor Gerhard Schroeder indulged in unbridled "Putinphilia".

According to the paper, Ms Merkel's approach combines "co-operation with criticism and dialogue with distance".

If you want Germany and Russia to co-operate ever more closely, then you have to be allowed to be worried about the political climate in Putin's native country.
Berliner Zeitung

"So there is now a new basis for German-Russian relations," it says, although the question of in which direction they will develop is "still open".

The Berliner Zeitung says Ms Merkel was "very cautious" in her comments on the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

"Those who expected clear criticism of the situation in Russia must be disappointed," the paper says.

It argues that it is legitimate to express concern over "ever more violent" xenophobia in Russia, the "cold war" with Georgia and "contract murders" such as that of Anna Politkovskaya.

"If you want Germany and Russia... to co-operate ever more closely, then you have to be allowed to be worried about the political climate in Putin's native country," the paper says.

Die Tageszeitung asks why only "a few dozen stalwarts" protested against the Russian army's "atrocities" in Chechnya during Mr Putin's visit.

A commentary in the paper suggests that the left regards the United States as the "main enemy", while the right is too concerned with investments and markets to be too vocal about human rights.

Better ties

The verdict of Russian papers is that despite the awkward questions over press freedom raised by the Politkovskaya killing, the visit is going well for Mr Putin.

Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel tried to show everyone that they were happy with the discussion
Novyye Izvestiya

"It appears that Russian-German relations today are at least as good as they were under Putin's friend Schroeder. And they are much better than sceptics expected after Merkel was elected chancellor," says Komsomolskaya Pravda.

"Coming out to meet the press and other members of the delegations [after talks behind closed doors], Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel tried to show everyone that they were happy with the discussion," says Novyye Izvestiya

"Angela Merkel was going to raise the issue of journalism and civil society in Russia because she had received countless requests from representatives of various political forces and non-governmental organisations," says Russian daily Gazeta. "At the news conference yesterday, Merkel made it clear that she had granted the wish of the German public."

Troublesome voice

France's Le Monde takes a critical look at Mr Putin's track record in light of the Politkovskaya killing.

"She was free, brave, and made no compromises - everything points to this crime aiming to eliminate a troublesome voice. But the message that Politkovskaya was trying to spread is only made stronger," the French daily says in its editorial.

It is high time for the world to see Putin for what he is - a man who is leading Russia back into darkness.

"The West has closed its eyes to Mr Putin's war. In France, there are even some voices which hail his work of 'restoring the state'. But what kind of state?", asks the paper, adding that "France has lost itself in flattering Mr Putin".

"The murder of Anna Politkovskaya is part of a climate of violence, intolerance and of disrespect for the rule of law for which this government bears a large part of the responsibility. It is high time to distance ourselves from it," it says.

Serbia's Danas goes even further by saying that Anna Politkovskaya's murder is ample proof that President Putin has delivered "nothing more than a common dictatorship accompanied by the usual disdain for the law".

The article, signed by former Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev's granddaughter Nina Krushcheva, goes on to say that the killing arouses an appalling feeling of deja vu, "exactly as when the KGB was at the pinnacle of its power - people are simply disappearing in Putin's Russia".

"It is high time for the world to see Putin for what he is - a man who is leading Russia back into darkness," the writer says.

Superjumbo chaos

Spanish daily El Pais is concerned by the continuing crisis at the European plane maker Airbus, following the resignation on Monday of its boss Christian Streiff after just 100 days in the post.

Mr Streiff's departure is a worrying signal, says the daily, considering that "he was appointed specifically by France and Germany to resolve the chaos caused by production of the A380 superjumbo".

The CEO's resignation also highlights the company's failings, the daily believes.

"Important decisions have to pass through political filters" at Airbus, it says, and Mr Streiff tried to push through job cuts "as the head of a private firm would do".

Germany's Die Welt says the government should buy a stake in the parent company of Airbus, Eads.

"Eads is a special company, after all, a combination of European defence and aviation activities," the paper says.

It argues that planes such as the A380 super-jumbo and defence projects cannot be financed without the state's assistance.

"If there is one company where national interests are at stake, it is Eads," it concludes.

The European press review is compiled by BBC Monitoring from internet editions of the main European newspapers and some early printed editions.


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