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Tuesday, 11 February, 2003, 05:53 GMT
European press review

The crisis within Nato over boosting military aid for Turkey pending hostilities against Iraq exercises many European newspapers today.

Nato ructions

The uproar in Nato after France and Belgium blocked Alliance plans to begin shipping military equipment to Turkey generates comment in both western and eastern Europe, not least in the Russian press.

"The Americans are in shock, the Europeans are shrugging their shoulders. It is not clear how the situation will develop next," comments the leading daily Izvestiya.

National and populist interests weigh more heavily than internal solidarity which is Nato's foundation

Berlingske Tidende

"The thing the Bush administration was most afraid of happened yesterday - the European coalition of opponents of war in Iraq, headed by France and Germany, has moved from words to concrete deeds. And it did so using a lever to which it had access - membership of Nato."

"Nato vetoes itself - France performs a Turkish demarche," says the mass-circulation daily Moskovskiy Komsomolets.

A headline in Komsomolskaya Pravda proclaims "The threat of war splits Nato".

Denmark's Information writes of "Monday's drama at Nato headquarters" noting that "the parties have entered the decisive trial of strength".

Will it be at all possible to keep the military alliance together?

Dagens Nyheter

Washington is using Nato unity as a means to twist the arms of France and Germany, it argues, suggesting a way around the impasse is to "defer the question of military support for Turkey until after the Security Council has met and taken a decision."

Describing the Nato crisis as "deeply serious", another Danish daily, Berlingske Tidende, says it encourages Saddam Hussein "to continue his tricks with the weapons inspectors and the global community".

It also fears that by allowing "national and populist interests to weigh more heavily than the internal solidarity which is Nato's foundation and justification", there will be serious long-term repercussions for Nato.

Across the water in non-Nato Sweden, Stockholm's Dagens Nyheter considers that France and Germany have created "the worst crisis in the alliance's history".

It is "probably only a matter of time" before France, Germany and Belgium are forced to back down by other Nato countries, but if they remain defiant, the USA and other alliance partners will help Turkey by circumventing Nato, believes the daily.

"The question will then be if it will be at all possible to keep the almost 54-year-old military alliance together."

Transatlantic rift

Russia's Defence Ministry newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda views favourably Moscow's stand faced with what is described as the "open enmity" between Washington and some European nations.

"Moscow has to resolve a complex political brain-twister, in which the coincidence of interests with the leaders of European integration on a number of issues, notably Iraq, has to be combined with the goal of preserving good relations with Washington.

Iraq is only an indicator of a general cooling in relations between the Old and New Worlds

Itogi

"It is precisely this interaction with different centres of power which can be seen as a sensible policy in the conditions of a multi-polar world."

The Russian business weekly Itogi is not quite so sanguine.

"Even if Colin Powell had presented the UN with an atomic bomb confiscated from Saddam, the Europeans would have been unlikely to agree to start a war. Iraq is only an indicator of a general cooling in relations between the Old and New Worlds," it says in a piece headlined "Freezing point".

"Russia's task is the hardest of all - to uphold its own interests, whilst skilfully manoeuvring between the two 'poles of cold'."

France's Le Monde succinctly expresses the state of US-French relations in a front-page headline: "Iraq: Paris exasperates Washington".

Never before has such a right and important stance been so badly justified as the German 'No' to a war against Iraq

Sueddeutsche Zeitung

Le Figaro also leads on the effects of the Iraqi crisis on relations between Europe and the US: "Iraq deepens transatlantic rift."

The paper notes that US Secretary of State Colin Powell has failed to convince the French of the need for military action against Iraq, adding that only 14% feel it necessary to intervene in Iraq, according to an opinion poll.

Unholy trinity

The Munich based Sueddeutsche Zeitung calls the German Government a "pathetically bad advocate of a good cause" over its stance on war against Iraq.

"Never before in German history has such a right and important stance been so badly justified as the German 'No' to a war against Iraq.

"In a situation where the chancellor, his defence minister and his foreign minister should act as a trinity, ie three individuals rooting for the same cause, we are faced with a panicking Schroeder, a muttering Struck and a desperate Fischer."

Schroeder's position against an attack on Iraq is in stark contrast to Aznar's eagerness

Sueddeutsche Zeitung

The paper concludes that differences between foreign minister and chancellor are not unheard of, but none of them have been so damaging to Germany in the eyes of the world.

Sueddeutsche Zeitung also comments on Tuesday's German-Spanish summit in Lanzarote.

"Whoever finds the Berlin winter too cold will certainly enjoy an official visit to the Canaries."

However, not all is likely to be sweetness and light. "Schroeder's position against an attack on Iraq is in stark contrast to Aznar's eagerness, he never misses an opportunity to present himself as loyal ally to US President George Bush."

And Germany is no longer an example to Spain, with the former's economy waning, while the latter's is buoyant, adds the daily.

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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