[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Friday, 9 December 2005, 03:44 GMT
European press review

European papers welcome the arrest of a most-wanted Balkan war crimes suspect.

The British EU budget proposal continues to arouse strong feelings.

And a UK ruling on torture is linked to America's efforts to reassure its European allies.

Gotovina

Spain's El Pais carries a front page photo of former Croatian General Ante Gotovina, arrested in Tenerife. Casually dressed in jacket and jeans, an expressionless Mr Gotovina sits waiting to enter a Madrid court.

In an editorial, the paper says the arrest is a "huge boost" for the war crimes tribunal in The Hague, "bogged down" in former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's trial.

Whoever wants to become a member must demonstrate credibly that they are part of the European community of values, with all that entails
Frankfurter Rundschau

Croatia initially dragged its heels in the search for Mr Gotovina, it adds, but "learned its lesson" after EU accession talks were suspended.

"Almost 15 years after the appalling ethnic wars that led to the break-up of Yugoslavia, the new aspirations of its republics are putting many butchers once hailed as heroes... in their rightful place," the paper observes.

It says Mr Gotovina's capture is "a very serious warning" for Serbia, accused of protecting war crimes suspects Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.

Germany's Frankfurter Rundschau says Ante Gotovina's arrest is a "success" for international jurisdiction but above all for the European Union.

According to the paper, the event shows that "the EU's Balkans strategy is working".

"Whoever wants to become a member must demonstrate credibly that they are part of the European community of values, with all that entails," it says.

Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung also welcomes the development.

"The fact that a government prioritized the rule of law over the populist temptation to show consideration for nationalist resentment among voters is new in Croatia," the paper says, "and it is a sign that the country is ready for Europe."

Swiss daily Le Temps describes the arrest as "one fewer headache for Zagreb".

What is good news for the region, The Hague, the EU and the civilized world is not necessary good news for Croatia
Delo

"Gotovina's long period on the run was putting the Croatian authorities in an increasingly embarrassing position," it says, noting that the country's EU candidacy was for a long time hampered by the question.

"Now", it says, "Zagreb has fulfilled all its obligations towards international justice".

Slovenia's Delo, however, says the arrest heralds "an unpleasant period" for the Croatian authorities.

"What is good news for the region, The Hague, the EU and the civilized world is not necessary good news for Croatia," the paper says.

It is especially unpleasant for Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, the paper explains, because many - including his voters - see Mr Gotovina as a hero.

"More will be revealed in The Hague about the Balkan atrocities in which Croatia, too, participated, although it finds it difficult to admit it," it adds.

And the country's leadership faces the challenge of bringing this reality home to the public, says the paper.

The Slovak daily Pravda says Croatia is relieved the general was not captured in his own country because this eases the pressure on the government.

"It does not need to defend itself against a part of society which sees Gen Gotovina as a national hero and would view his possible extradition as high treason," it says.

But it is also a relief for the Slovak government, the paper says.

"It dared to risk its prestige by backing the argument that the Croats could hardly find Gotovina in Croatia if he was not there," it explains.

EU budget

Austria's Der Standard says Britain's recent EU budget proposal is "immoral" because it provides for much less help for new member states than previously envisaged.

Once again it turns out that Blair's brilliant rhetoric is not matched by action, and that the European spirit conjured up by him is barely present in Britain
Der Standard

The paper concedes that a cut in the British rebate represents progress, but it adds that it is "not really a fair offer" because it does not go far enough.

"This budget proposal only leaves us to conclude that Britain first and foremost looks after itself and could not care less about the EU or its future development," it says.

The daily feels the British are "obviously" not interested in a political Europe based on mutual solidarity.

"Once again it turns out that Blair's brilliant rhetoric is not matched by action, and that the European spirit conjured up by him is barely present in Britain," it concludes.

But a guest commentary in Austria's Die Presse defends the budget plan as "disciplined", "a budget for enlargement" and based on the principle of "budgetary justice".

Its author - British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw - argues that the UK presidency is proposing a "fair and modern budget for a strong and prosperous Europe".

It is very possible that the budget of super-austerity proposed by the United Kingdom may not be passed
Ziua

"Britain is prepared to pay its fair share, but only its fair share," he writes.

According to Mr Straw, the proposed budget would provide a "solid foundation, which would bring all our citizens greater prosperity".

Romania's Ziua voices optimism, but for quite different reasons.

"It is very possible that the budget of super-austerity proposed by the United Kingdom... may not be passed," the paper notes.

It says Romania and Bulgaria are therefore likely to be accepted into the enlarged European Union so as to bring in more funds.

"And then we... make the sign of cross, happy that we have passed this obstacle, too," the paper says.

An article in Romania's Gandul sees no chance of any compromise being reached before next week's Brussels summit.

It is therefore up to Austria's EU presidency in the first half of next year to make a better proposal, the paper says.

"All the hopes for the 2007-2013 budget are now turning to the skill of Austrian diplomacy," argues the writer.

Law lords

Swiss daily Le Temps describes as a "setback" for the British government the Law Lords' decision that trial evidence obtained under torture is inadmissible.

The lords, it recalls, "found Tony Blair's government in the wrong in using information obtained by methods comparable to torture".

It says the ruling has "particular prominence" as visiting Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice seeks to reassure her European partners that the USA does not endorse the use of torture to fight terrorism.

Likewise, Spain's El Pais notes that the ruling came only 24 hours after the USA banned inhumane interrogations - partly, it says, because of the "extreme unhappiness" in European and US political circles over alleged secret CIA flights.

It sees a contradiction between military interventions conducted "in the name of spreading the values of civilization to countries where human rights are not respected" and torture.

The European press review is compiled by BBC Monitoring from internet editions of the main European newspapers and some early printed editions.





EUROPEAN PRESS PROFILES
 

RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific