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Monday, 24 September, 2001, 02:32 GMT 03:32 UK
European press review

The French press asks a number of questions about Friday's chemical factory explosion which killed dozens of people and injured hundreds of others in the city of Toulouse.

One German paper tells President Bush not to overlook the EU's opinion in his war on terrorism, while another tells Europe to grow up when it comes to handling major problems such as terrorism.

Switzerland's Le Temps calls on Mr Bush to act with moderation and avoid sending the Islamic world into chaos.

And Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet says that just because the left has won the Polish elections does not mean it will also triumph next year in Hungary.

The price of safety

Following the explosion on Friday at a chemical factory in a suburb of Toulouse in southwest France, which killed at least 29 people and injured hundreds, Le Monde in Paris questions the country's town planning policy.

"How is it that such a bomb can be located next to France's fourth biggest city, in a conurbation of over one million people?" it asks.

"Why did the elected representatives and administrative officials allow whole districts to be built near the petrochemical complex?" it continues.

The paper says that the town planning which allowed this to happen had jobs and local business taxes in mind.

"Urban expansions which take in already built-on sites which, originally, were in the countryside, must be stopped," the paper says.

"The Toulouse accident demands that elected representatives abandon this laissez-faire town planning...and have the courage to tell their electorate that safety has a price", it says.

Le Figaro says that while it is still thought that the explosion was an accident there is still universal interest in the way ammonium nitrate was stored there.

"The investigation has reportedly already found corroborating evidence for the initial witness statements, according to which the explosion started in a storage silo, where between 200 and 300 tonnes of ammonium nitrate were stored," it says.

The paper says that the explosion has re-launched the debate on the location of 372 other potentially dangerous sites.

"Like Toulouse, Lyon and Rouen have factories on their doorsteps harbouring the same potential risks," the paper says.

Don't overlook Europe, Mr Bush

Germany's Frankfurter Rundschau says US President George W. Bush does not appreciate the extent of the role the European Union plays in world affairs today.

It says that during his speech to Congress, President Bush did not once mention the EU, instead referring to the United Kingdom as the USA's "comrade in arms".

"But the world is no longer that of World War I or II," the paper says. "Whoever wants to defeat international terrorism must forge international coalitions", it says.

The paper hopes that London will not allow itself to be seduced by "Bush's simplistic view of an Anglo-American alliance" because, it says, "then the common European front would crumble".

Call for moderation

Geneva's Le Temps says that "George W. Bush is moving towards action and an intervention has become unavoidable".

It adds that: "It is definitely a war which is being prepared at the borders with Afghanistan."

"If he gets the wrong target or badly calculates the extent of the reprisal...the region could fall into chaos," it warns.

In light of this, the paper says, the president must avoid a major and prolonged intervention leading to the deaths of civilians and the rise of a powerful anti-western movement in Muslim states.

It adds that he must also avoid "extending the strikes to other 'rogue states'".

The paper tells the president: "It is through moderation in the use of force that a civilized state can be recognized".

EU dwarf must grow up

Munich's Sueddeutsche Zeitung describes the European Union as being a "dwarf" in international political terms because its members are unable to agree on a common internal security policy.

The political developments resulting from the terrorist attacks in the USA have shown the EU how small its significance on the global scene really is, the paper says.

The paper is sceptical whether promises by EU members to co-ordinate the fight against terrorism and organized crime will be kept.

It says that in the face of terrorism, Europe's democracies must now combat their greatest weakness.

"They must not conduct politics for the short-term and superficially and should not succumb to their tendency to prefer to avoid the really big problems", it says.

Hungarian right to hold on

In an early reaction to the likely left-wing election victory in Poland on Sunday, the conservative Budapest daily Magyar Nemzet warns against predicting a similar victory by the left in Hungary next year.

Although the paper admits that "Hungarian and Polish history has run virtually parallel for about a thousand years", it rejects any such conclusions.

While the Polish right has "fallen apart", the Hungarian right has not, Magyar Nemzet explains.

The paper adds that "a shamefully low turnout" also contributed to the Polish result.

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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