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Friday, 27 July, 2001, 03:58 GMT 04:58 UK
European press review

There is concern in today's papers over the car bomb deactivated at Malaga airport on Thursday, after a warning from the armed Basque separatist group ETA that it would be targeting tourists this summer.

The aftermath of the anti-globalization protests in Genoa, with Italy under fire over the conduct of its security forces, also takes its fair share of column-inches.

And the French suspect the language of Shakespeare of plotting to take over the European Union.

Sun, sangria and separatism

"Tragedy averted at Malaga airport after ETA bomb malfunctions", says the main headline in the front page of the Spanish ABC, which also carries a photo of hundreds of tourists waiting outside the terminal while explosives experts deal with the car booby-trapped with 55kg of explosives.

"Working with the expertise of surgeons for five hours, three police officers risked their lives to deactivate the bomb," the paper says.

Its compatriot El Pais says that the incident "has confirmed, if confirmation were needed," the Basque separatist group's "intention to target the tourism industry to create panic on the Spanish coasts".

The paper urges "redoubled vigilance", because, it stresses, "ETA's new militants, no matter how inexpert, show a homicidal resolve and have a plentiful stock of explosives".

Germany's Die Welt says that ETA has succeeded in its goal of targeting tourism.

The Malaga airport incident and "the threat of further attacks on the coast does not bode well for Spain's hoteliers, whose industry makes up 10% of the country's economy" the paper notes.

It adds that the "crude logic" of the terrorists is to create such a climate as to lead the international community to swap political concessions for safe beaches. Thankfully, the paper says, "nobody in Madrid or Brussels has fallen for this perfidious logic".

Genoa: The fallout continues

A report in London's The Independent says that "the Italian Government bowed to international pressure" on Thursday "to look into 'fascist' behaviour by its police force" against the anti-globalization protests during the G8 summit in Genoa.

"Across the Continent reports emerged of protesters being beaten, tortured and deprived of their legal rights," the paper says.

"One German politician likened the police's behaviour at the summit to the old military junta in Argentina. An Italian senator claimed the force had been infiltrated by fascists."

But Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung seems to take the accusations with more than a pinch of salt. It says that the vehemence of the German Left against the Italian police "is part and parcel of an attempt to restore the claim to infallibility and the credibility of globalization's opponents".

The police in Genoa "was under constant attack," the paper adds, pointing out that "it was not the police that staged a weekend of protests marked by burning cars, Molotov cocktails, and looting".

The paper believes that the political forces "ousted from the heart of state power in Rome" are using the opportunity "to paint Silvio Berlusconi's government as a patron of excessive police force". Their purpose, it adds, is to "cast the chumminess of the opposition with the rioters in a friendlier light".

The French Le Nouvel Observateur notes that the polemic over the violence that marred the Genoa G8 summit, "far from dying out", has continued "to agitate the Italian political scene".

"The opposition, after calling in vain for a parliamentary commission of inquiry" into the conduct of the security forces, "continues to demand the resignation of Interior Minister Claudio Scajola", the paper says.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is due to brief the Senate on Friday, it adds.

"He is fully behind Claudio Scajola, and his line of defence is not expected to depart from that of his interior minister, who has repeatedly stated that the security forces did their duty when faced with the violence of 'subversive groups'," the paper says.

Macedonia: Rule of law or cartridge belts?

A small country like Macedonia could solve its problems, writes Germany's Berliner Zeitung, provided that ethnic Albanian fighters would end their campaign.

But they are reluctant to do so, because "with their raids they take the conflict to the periphery, provoke counter-strikes, and then claim alleged suppression so as to be seen as the eternal victims".

But the conflict is not about minority rights in Macedonia, the paper believes. The question, it says, "is whether the Albanians in Tirana as well as in Pristina can successfully work on the lawful and institutional foundations of a democratic nation, ruled by law and with promising economic prospects".

If they would convincingly accept such responsibilities, their status as negotiators would be more credible than that warranted by a cartridge belt, the paper concludes.

Hitting a high note

A commentator in the French weekly L'Express questions the usefulness of the European single currency's highest denomination banknote, worth 500 euros ($440) which will go into circulation when the euro is introduced in most European Union countries in 2002.

"In Lisbon, where the highest banknote is worth 10,000 escudos - some 50 euros - and still is little used, the 500-euro bill will be pointless," the paper says.

"The same reasoning goes for other European capitals."

The paper blames "the northern Europeans, and particularly the Germans" for the idea.

"They are used to handling big notes in their everyday shopping," it says.

"We in France, on the contrary, are used to the cheque and the credit card."

On the other hand, it may prove useful to criminals.

A report commissioned by the French Interior Ministry backs the fears of a centre for research into money-laundering and corruption that "it will be easier to smuggle narco-euros across borders" because such high denomination notes take up a lot less space, the paper points out.

Speaking in (too many) tongues

Still on matters pan-European, a commentator in the French Liberation smells a sinister plot to anglicize the European Union.

"The dream of all European Union officials," he says, "is that all European Union citizens should speak English, with the other national languages relegated to the rank of charming little dialects occasionally taught in special classes.".

"Exaggeration?" the paper asks.

"Most certainly not," it promptly replies, and proceeds to explain that, earlier this month, the European Commission "was forced hastily and discreetly" to shelve a plan under which any given document would be translated into either one of the working languages - English, French and German - but not into all three as is current practice.

The about turn was prompted by a joint letter from the German and French foreign ministers, "who were not born yesterday", the paper points out, "demanding that Commission President Romano Prodi come to his senses".

However the author does concede that the amount of paper currently used by Brussels for translations would cover the whole of Luxembourg every two months.

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

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


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