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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 October 2005, 04:26 GMT 05:26 UK
European press review

Papers comment on the controversial sale of a major German publishing house, large-scale student protests in Italy, and warnings to Bulgaria and Romania to step up reforms ahead of EU membership. And a Bosnian paper is excited about the possibility that Europe's first pyramid has been discovered near Sarajevo.

Italy demonstrations

In Italy, big protests by students and university staff against government reforms to higher education brought parts of central Rome to a standstill on Tuesday.

Police in riot gear charged demonstrators in the streets near Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's office, and elsewhere there were mass sit-ins and marches.

A commentary in left-leaning La Repubblica accuses the government of imposing the changes - which some say threaten the independence of universities - by "diktat", rather than allowing for a proper debate.

"An important political issue, crucial for the country's future, has been transformed into a public order emergency," the paper says.

Profits over quality?

Under the headline "Greed instead of quality", Germany's Die Tageszeitung says no good will come of the acquisition of the publisher Berliner Verlag by two British and US-based investment funds.

Berliner Verlag publishes two newspapers, the Berliner Zeitung and the Berliner Kurier .

The paper fears that the new owners, headed by former Mirror group chief executive David Montgomery, will "drive down quality" as well as costs.

It believes that Montgomery's reputation in this regard "could hardly be worse".

"Nobody can seriously believe that he wants to treat journalistic and financial ambitions on an equal footing at Berliner Verlag, as he has promised," the paper says.

It adds, however, that two German publishers who had also shown an interest in acquiring Berliner Verlag would probably not have been much better.

Germany's Frankfurter Rundschau agrees that David Montgomery stands for an investment model which prioritizes profit to such an extent that quality is bound to suffer.

"In this respect there is a frighteningly new dimension to the sale of Berliner Verlag to Montgomery and his partners," the paper says.

Waiting in the wings

The European Commission on Tuesday warned Bulgaria and Romania that their accession to the EU could be delayed until 2008 if they fail to take urgent action to fight corruption and speed up reforms.

Romanian daily Ziua acknowledges that "the real debate regarding Romania's European destiny does not end with the report".

"On the contrary," the paper says, "it is just starting, together with the most severe and merciless stage of the monitoring process."

Romania Libera focuses on the country's corruption record.

"EU officials expect that in 2006 the judicial authorities in Romania will swiftly investigate certain large-scale corruption cases focusing on the following key players: parliamentarians, government officials and magistrates," the paper says.

"Three types of large-scale corruption," the paper says, "have not been attacked at all or only slightly touched - corruption in the legislature, corruption in the executive and corruption in the judiciary."

Slovakia's Pravda urges both countries to take the warning seriously, recalling that a year before its EU entry, Slovakia was in a similar position.

It argues that "an unhappy mood" reigns in the EU and that some politicians would be "quietly happy" if the two countries' admission was postponed.

Kosovo status talks

The Serbian daily Politika carries a downbeat interview with President Boris Tadic on the outcome of Monday's UN Security Council session on Kosovo.

The Security Council decided that the talks on Kosovo's final status should go ahead, despite many reservations and Serbia's opposition.

Tadic says that he cannot exclude the possibility of an imposed solution for Kosovo, adding that "we must be prepared for that".

He calls on the people to be realistic, "as our position is very difficult, but not hopeless, which is why we shall fight to protect our interests, respecting the rules of negotiation prevalent among the international community and democratic states".

Europe's first pyramid?

Bosnia's leading Muslim daily Dnevni Avaz writes excitedly about "a sensational discovery" of "the first European pyramid" in the central town of Visoko, just north of Sarajevo.

Excavations at a hill site above the town have been going on for several months and initial analyses "have confirmed the original claim that this is Europe's first pyramid and a monumental building, similar in dimensions to the Egyptian pyramids."

"The pyramid is 100 metres high and there is evidence that it contains rooms and a monumental causeway ... The plateau is built of stone blocks, which indicates the presence at the time of a highly developed civilisation," the daily explains.

"Archaeological excavations near the surface have uncovered a part of a wall and fragments of steps," it reveals.

"Visocica hill could not have been shaped like this by nature," geologist Nada Nukic tells the daily. "This is already far too more than we have anticipated, but we expect a lot more from further analysis," she concludes.

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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