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Last Updated: Friday, 15 July, 2005, 04:50 GMT 05:50 UK
European press review

Last week's bombings in London remain a major preoccupation for many leading European papers.

Other dailies find President Chirac in rather poor form, while German commentators engage in a debate over school standards.

Brutal awakening

"Home-grown suicide bombers" reads the headline in Le Monde, as the French daily reflects on the origins of the men suspected of carrying out last week's bomb attacks in London.

"They were young people," the paper says, "beyond all suspicion, good neighbours... born in Britain."

Those same people, it adds, "calmly left their families... with their rucksacks packed full of explosives, to go and blow themselves up".

The video cameras merely looked on
Die Tageszeitung

And the authorities will struggle to prevent bomb attacks in the future, it warns, if they are planned and carried out by men and women born in the United Kingdom.

"Britain," the paper says, "believed its model of immigrant integration... protected it from extremism.

"The awakening has been brutal."

What the London bombings prove, argues Germany's Die Tageszeitung, is that video surveillance is an ineffective tool in the fight against terrorism.

"The video cameras merely looked on," it says, but "they did not help to prevent the London attacks because the perpetrators did not act suspiciously".

The paper finds it strange that, while video surveillance is widely accepted in Britain, opposition to the introduction of identity cards remains strong.

"As a German, you can only be surprised by this," it remarks, "but the question of what is acceptable and what is not is obviously culturally determined."

Limited co-operation

For Austria's Der Standard, the London bombings highlight the reluctance of European Union member states to work together to combat terrorism.

"Co-operation in Europe is only going so far," it says, "and nowhere is this more obvious than in the fight against terrorism."

People describe the British as a brave nation... and with justification

The paper points out that most Europeans haven't even heard of the EU's anti-terrorism co-ordinator, Gijs de Vries.

"Representatives of EU states do know him," it observes, "but prefer to have little to do with him."

But for Hungary's Nepszabadsag, one positive to be drawn from the aftermath of the London attacks has been the reaction of the British people.

"People describe the British as a brave nation, not just here, not just now, but always - and with justification," the paper says.

It believes Britons accept they will have to "manage" the threat posed by home-grown extremists.

"And while this managing is being done," the paper predicts, "the motto will still be that 'we won't concede a single iota of our way of life'."

'Same old Chirac'

French President Jacques Chirac had the opportunity to rebound from recent setbacks on Thursday in his traditional Bastille Day TV interview. Most papers agree that he failed to deliver.

France's Le Figaro says the president came up with "no major announcements", despite his wish "to dispel the gloomy atmosphere which has taken hold of the French".

The man who always used to bounce back cannot take any more
Der Tagesspiegel

For Spain's El Pais, it was a case of "same old Chirac".

The French president appeared "tired", the paper says, "incapable of interesting the country with his lacklustre call for unity, and was stuck, as ever, promising more of the same."

"Jacques Chirac is worn out," it adds, "and the French public has an even greater need to see new faces, hear new proposals, and feel that it is being called to something great."

Mr Chirac made much the same impression on Germany's Der Tagesspiegel.

"As usual, he pointed his index finger in the air like a teacher," it observes, "but his smile was wry, the French president seemed tired, depressed and not at all convinced of what he was saying."

"The man who always used to bounce back cannot take any more, and you can clearly see it," the paper says.

Education, education, education

Other papers in Germany are more interested in the results of a new international study on pupils' performance in schools.

Die Welt points out German schools appear to have made "rather a lot of progress" since a previous assessment in 2000.

Particularly worth noting, it says, is the involvement of parents, pupils and teachers in decision-making at schools in the eastern state of Sachsen-Anhalt.

"This could also work elsewhere," the paper says, "under any government, in any school system and in any conceivable economic conditions... so long as there is the will."

But for the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, the debate generated by the study, based on an assessment tool known as Pisa, has become a "national fetish".

"Forget PISA!" the paper urges.

"What kind of absurd ambition, what kind of crazy, swot-like attitude is it to wish to move to the top ranks at any cost?" it asks in exasperation.

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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