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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 March, 2004, 06:36 GMT
European press review

The implications of the Greek national and Austrian regional election results attract continued attention in Tuesday's newspapers. In Spain, the death of a television journalist in Haiti worries its press.

In France, the government is coming under fire for mishandling research funding and mosque attacks and the Czech Republic needs a wake-up call on EU funding.

Road ahead

Germany's Die Welt believes Greek foreign policy will not change following the election victory of the conservative New Democracy party.

The paper points out that Prime Minister-elect Costas Karamanlis supports the Cyprus peace talks, advocates dialogue with Turkey and wants to speed up the country's integration into the EU.

But it warns that he faces the difficult task of tackling "the huge backlog of reforms" left by the previous government.

"If he wants to be successful, there are many hard decisions which he must not dodge."

Germany's Der Tagesspiegel pinpoints some of these.

The same conservative trend brought Silvio Berlusconi to power
Aftenpost

"Pensions reform, which is long overdue, and deregulation of the labour market have repeatedly been delayed because the Socialists shied away from a confrontation with trade unions," the paper says.

It adds that beyond the change in government there is hope for the renewal of the country's political culture since the biggest parties now have leaders who were born after World War II and "the traumatising effects of the civil war".

Oslo's Aftenposten finds the election results "interesting" as they indicate "a non-socialist trend in the Mediterranean countries".

"Spain elects a new national parliament next weekend and, according to all indications, will re-elect the non-socialist government which has run the country for eight years."

And it reminds us, "the same conservative trend brought Silvio Berlusconi to power in Italy!"

Austrian populism

Austria's Der Standard says the outcome of regional elections shows the electoral appeal of "a kind of populism minus racism".

Controversial politician Joerg Haider, who is set to retain the governorship of Carinthia after his Freedom Party obtained the biggest share of the vote, has recently subscribed to this "magic formula, " the paper suggests.

Protecting journalists protects the right to information
El Pais

Copenhagen's Kristeligt Dagblad believes "it is too early to say whether the local election victory heralds a new period of greatness for the Freedom Party in the longer term".

"The Austrians also appear to think that Haider is too controversial," the paper says, recalling that his comments put the country on a collision course with the rest of Europe after the party's election success in 1999.

Death in Haiti

The Spanish daily El Pais says that the death of journalist Ricardo Ortega, a well-known face on Spanish television "raises anew the question of the working and professional conditions of special correspondents in areas of conflict. "

"Protecting them protects the right to information, which is for everybody."

Barcelona's La Vanguardia, says that Ortega's death, caused by "misfortune and a clear and imponderable risk", must force the media to "increase protection for reporting that is as risky as it is necessary".

However Barcelona's Avui points out that the Spanish correspondent is "just one among dozens of journalists who every year lose their lives in the many conflicts that afflict the world".

'Colossal mess'

With French laboratory directors who face steep budget cuts threatening to resign en masse today, the Paris daily Liberation criticizes the government's handling of the crisis as "a colossal mess".

If there is a meaning to France's secularity, then it certainly lies in the protection of places of worship
Le Monde

"It has taken part in devaluing a sector for which it maintains it has ambition; it has forfeited its credibility in the eyes of a profession which no longer trusts in its declarations."

What is at issue here is the future of a whole society suffering from a scarcity of public funding," the paper declares.

"This warrants more from the government than derisory evasions."

Mosque attacks

"A serious matter" is how the Parisian daily Le Monde describes two recent attacks on Muslim places of worship in the Haute-Savoie region of eastern France.

However, it laments the fact that it took a five-column article in The New York Times - "a view from outside" - to bring home the true gravity of these attacks.

Although the attacks were clearly premeditated, there was no immediate expression of indignation or solidarity from the authorities.

"It was necessary for the president of the regional Council of the Muslim Faith, Kamel Kabtane, to complain before top state leaders, from the president of the Republic to the interior minister, expressed themselves and took action."

Opportunities, European funds are coming. Our ability to take them all is lagging
Hospodarske Noviny

"If there is a meaning to the state's secularity, then it certainly lies in the physical and political protection of the places of worship of all the country's religious communities."

"There is not a single republican who could find anything to dispute in this notion of secularity," the daily concludes.

Ill prepared

The Czech Republic's Hospodarske Noviny warns that the country is ill prepared to benefit from funding opportunities when it joins the European Union on 1 May.

"Opportunities, European funds, are coming. Our ability to take them all, which is the second part of the truth, is lagging," the paper says.

Just two months before accession no occupational training courses have been organized, despite unemployment approaching 11%.

"Fighting unemployment is a long-term task and the idea should be to help the greatest amount of people who find themselves in this situation," the paper says.

It adds that reports of a poorly performing education system with insufficient teaching of languages, computer literacy and mathematics are "just as alarming".

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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