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Last Updated: Monday, 5 April, 2004, 07:13 GMT 08:13 UK
European press review

European papers focus on dramatic new manifestations of terrorism in and around Madrid.

And as the Queen visits France, the love-hate relationship resurfaces.

Terror in Europe

After five suspects killed themselves and a policeman in the Spanish capital on Saturday night, the Madrid papers are in little doubt about the event's significance.

El Mundo says Prime Minister-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero "faces a huge challenge", the paper adds.

El Pais believes "the new EU must overcome national differences, cultural reservations and political mistrust in order to confront the greatest threat to its democratic foundations".

We know what is in store for us... death and destruction of unimaginable and incalculable proportions
Die Welt
La Razon
praises the work of the security forces and calls on citizens to help put an end to those who seek to destroy Spain and the West.

The Basque daily Gara says Islamist groups are taking up causes felt ever more deeply by most of the world's Muslims.

"The maintenance of the rich world's support for the genocidal policy of the Israeli government, the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and the presence of US troops in the holy sites of Islam are the main ones," it says.

German papers, meanwhile, consider the implications for ordinary Europeans' lives of the Madrid incidents and the latest purported Al-Qaeda warning of more attacks.

"We know what is in store for us... death and destruction of unimaginable and incalculable proportions," says Die Welt.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung points out that "fear is the key weapon in the terrorists' calculations". They intend, it says, to "target modern society where it is at its most vulnerable" - in travel, trade and communication.

The Frankfurter Rundschau advises that in order to counter such dangers, democratic societies must "safeguard tolerance and liberties and ensure maximum security".

Out of Iraq

After at least 20 people died in Sunday's clashes between Shia protesters and Spanish-led troops in the Iraqi city of Najaf, La Razon suggests a solution to the continuing violence.

"The new Spanish government must make an effort to agree with our allies, especially the US, a formula that allows the United Nations to coordinate the transition," it says.

"Amid a global terrorist offensive like the one we are experiencing, we have to be very cautious with the messages we send the rest of the world," the paper adds.

El Mundo believes "the only real reason why the 1,300 Spanish soldiers are still in Iraq is because of the outgoing government's backing for Bush's policy," it adds.

And with the US vowing not to hand over control of the troops to the UN, Prime Minister-elect Rodriguez Zapatero will have no option but to bring the soldiers back, it concludes.

Back to the future?

Berlin's Der Tagesspiegel expresses dismay that Slovakia's former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar has won the first round of the presidential elections.

"Suddenly the ghosts of the past have come back to life," the paper says, noting that Slovaks ignored the fact that Mr Meciar "has already once led their country to ruination".

The Berliner Zeitung agrees that Slovaks "opted for the past out of fear of the future after EU entry".

Czech papers echo these views.

"Surprising outcome", is Hospodarske Noviny's description of Saturday's election.

"Presidential Trouble" is how Lidove Noviny describes the outcome.

"Vladimir Meciar in a top post represents a great danger for Slovakia," says the paper, describing him as "an erratic, stubborn and moody populist".

Vladimir Meciar in a top post represents a great danger for Slovakia
Lidove Noviny
"However, Ivan Gasparovic is no better alternative to Meciar," it argues, pointing out that Mr Gasparovic was parliament speaker and failed to act against the violation of the law during Mr Meciar's rule.

Pravo notes that a day after the Slovak flag was raised at Nato headquarters in Brussels, voters sent to the presidential run-off two men blamed for Slovakia being omitted from the first round of Nato's enlargement.

Rush to Russia

French President Jacques Chirac wanted to be the first to congratulate his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on his election victory last week but German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder beat him to it, says the Paris daily Le Monde.

Their haste to see Putin again is understandable, the paper says, given what it calls Moscow's "ambiguous policy" towards Europe, alternating between cooperation and outright confrontation.

"It is, however, more worrying that, out of naivety or ignorance, these same leaders should award certificates of respectability to the Russian president," it goes on.

It notes that the Americans and British are starting to be concerned about an authoritarian drift in Mr Putin's policies.

"It would be regrettable if the French were the last to be alarmed about it," the paper concludes.

Another special relationship

With Britain's Queen Elizabeth II visiting France on Monday, the front page of the Paris daily Liberation features a large photograph of a frog with the words "I love you, moi non plus".

The paper charts the two countries' peculiar love-hate relationship, wondering if Britain is "our favourite enemy".

But in a special link-up with London's The Guardian, it also celebrates the 100th anniversary of the so-called Entente Cordiale.

"Great Britain and France are nations with the same problems, the same interests and the same values," says an editorial translated from the latter paper.

"Our peoples share the same cultural and intellectual heritage. We ourselves are mistaken if we believe we have more to learn from America than from France," adds the British daily.

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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