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Friday, 15 June, 2001, 09:34 GMT 10:34 UK
Europe's press attacks Bush

Europe's editorials remain fixed on President George W Bush's first foray into pastures European.

The Swiss Le Temps says that while President Bush "manage to seduce" some Nato members on Wednesday with his anti-missile defence project, "his luck did not hold" at the European-US summit in Gothenburg on Thursday.

Mr Bush "failed to convince" the European Union "of the soundness of his reasons not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol," the paper says.

So the gap between the Union and the United States on the subject of global warming remains "as wide as ever".

Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza sees Washington's stance on greenhouse gas emissions as the main bone of contention.

"Not even the notion of building an anti-missile shield has aroused such objections as the withdrawal from the climate treaty," it points out.

In Gothenburg the debate "became so heated that Bush's advisers, who were supposed to be present only for a part of the meeting, stayed by the president's side to help him repel the attacks", Gazeta notes.

"But the Europeans 'did not buy' Bush's arguments," the paper says.

Mr Bush's luck does not seem to hold out with Madrid's Diario 16 either. The paper agrees that "there is an undeniable need for a debate on international security in the 21st century, so as to replace the old and sinister balance of terror".

But "it would be a mistake" to base the new order on "Bush's simplistic and more than debatable anti-missile shield".

Barcelona's La Vanguardia is equally unsympathetic. "While demanding proof that Kyoto will work," the paper says, "Bush has no qualms about endorsing the construction of an anti-missile shield whose effectiveness has yet to be proved."

Given this approach to his meeting with the European Union leaders in Gothenburg, "The result was the expected agreement to differ", the paper concludes.

"Liberal Europe puts the emphasis on the environment, and pragmatic America on security problems," says the Russian business daily Kommersant.

"Only the future can tell whether or not President Bush and the European leaders succeed in combining such divergent approaches. Yesterday's summit provided no answer."

Looking ahead to Saturday's Bush-Putin summit in the Slovenian capital, Kommersant says it could be crucial in changing Europe's attitude to America's missile defence plans.

"Germany and France may be waiting for some sort of signal from Russia," the paper suggests.

"If President Putin indicates that Russia is ready to at least update, if not repudiate" the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty, it adds, "the attitude of America's Nato allies could change drastically".

The influential broadsheet Izvestiya says Mr Bush was "pleasantly surprised" at the unexpectedly favourable reception accorded to his national missile defence plans by Nato leaders in Brussels on Wednesday.

But the paper points out that most of the praise came from the leaders of the new Nato members, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, while the other European leaders were "much more restrained".

"Even Britain's Tony Blair, Washington's closest ally, expressed reservations," it notes.

President Bush "who is not that experienced in foreign affairs, may have missed this nuance and his advisers obviously decided not to upset him by pointing it out", Izvestiya says.

Beware of the bear?

Looking ahead to the Bush-Putin summit on Saturday, Hungary's Magyar Hirlap notes a growing gap between the western and eastern perceptions in Europe of the significance of the American anti-missile shield.

Western Europe, and especially the western press, see the shield as a step towards "a new cold war and the threat of an arms race of unprecedented horror," the paper says.

But in an eastern and central Europe, "spectacularly recovering from a 50-year historical diversion, another trend is developing", it points out.

The paper recalls Czech President Vaclav Havel's warning at summit of the nine former Soviet satellites a month ago, that "the world should be wary of making concessions to the Russian bear".

"It would be a serious historical mistake to believe that a Russia focusing on economic progress under the pragmatic Putin's leadership has given up its dreams of empire," the paper warns.

The good, the bad - and the real

Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung contrasts the "Bush go home!" placards greeting the American president in Europe, with the much more sympathetic attitude to his predecessor Bill Clinton.

And yet President Clinton also "endangered world peace with plans for a national missile defence system" and "stood behind the death penalty," the paper points out.

"In both cases, neither man is as bad or good as he has been portrayed as being," the paper points out.

"In fact, the bad guy Mr Bush is simply doing the same thing that the good guy Mr Clinton did: representing his country's interests in a democratic fashion."

"In protesting so loudly against the new president, Europeans seem to be forgetting that there are problems closer to home they need to think about," the paper warns.

"If the ethnic Albanians continue their rebellion in Macedonia, the Europeans will be looking to Mr Bush for ways to help solve the mess."

Coming in from the cold

"Nato has not yet invited Slovakia to join its ranks," says the Slovak Pravda, but its Brussels summit "brought good news also for Slovakia".

The paper points out that "Nato has told the world that all doubts over its enlargement have been swept off the table" and that by the time of the Prague summit in 2002 "it will have invitations for new members".

"On Wednesday Slovakia was mentioned as one of the front-runners" for Nato membership, it notes.

But the country was a front-runner once before, in 1998, when "dubious government methods... undermined our trustworthiness and excluded us from the expanding zone of democratic stability".

"There is no total guarantee against relapse," the paper warns, "and if we let the opportunity slip from our hands it would only prove our clumsiness and immaturity."

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