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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 September 2006, 06:26 GMT 07:26 UK
European press review
European press

Papers assess the result of Montenegro's first general election since independence. There is concern over the deployment of European troops to the international peacekeeping forces in Lebanon and Afghanistan. And a debate over the role of God in a future European constitution rumbles on.

Montenegrin elections

After the victory by Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic's governing coalition in Sunday's election, the Vienna newspaper Der Standard writes that Brussels will now look favourably on the country's EU aspirations.

Djukanovic can no longer hide behind the argument that Serbia's influence is hindering his country's development
Die Tageszeitung

"With Djukanovic as leader, Montenegro poses no threat to the region's security," the paper says.

The premier "broke away from Slobodan Milosevic's nationalist war policy at the right time and he has apologised for war crimes in Croatia".

Under his government, a multi-ethnic society is being put into practice, and he "skilfully defused tensions in the country, which is split into secessionists and unionists", the paper says.

Under these circumstances, it adds, "Brussels and Washington are turning a blind eye to domestic policy flaws", particularly the grip Djukanovic's party has on the police, judicial, customs and finance sector and the virtual state control over the media.

Germany's Die Tageszeitung argues that there are doubts about Mr Djukanovic's ability or willingness to tackle widespread nepotism and corruption in the country.

"Djukanovic will not be able to break up the old structures stemming from communism and strengthened by nepotism that quickly," the paper says. "After all, he cannot turn against his most important allies in the state apparatus."

The majority in Montenegro has sent a clear message

But if Montenegro is to join the EU and Nato, "that same apparatus has to be trimmed and modernised".

"Djukanovic can no longer hide behind the argument that Serbia's influence is hindering his country's development," the paper concludes.

"He knows how to do it," Serbia's Danas says about Mr Djukanovic, adding that: "His party has won absolute power mainly because of his leadership."

Following Mr Djukanovic's victory, there can no longer be any doubt about the stance of Montenegrin voters regarding their country's independence, Serbia's Blic says.

"The majority in Montenegro has sent a clear message," the daily says, calling upon Belgrade to take this into account.

"Serbia must co-operate with this government," it adds. Serbia should establish diplomatic ties with Montenegro, "showing that it accepts political reality and that it would like to have good relations with Montenegro", Blic says.


As the Bundestag prepares to discuss the deployment of German soldiers in Lebanon, a commentary in Germany's Die Welt argues that if troops are sent to the Middle East, Germany will be neither a peace broker nor neutral.

Germany would be helping to protect Israel's borders from attacks and curb Hezbollah, it says.

In Afghanistan, the Congo and elsewhere, the paper goes on, Germany's role is not that of a peace broker which "can please all sides". "We have long been a party to the fight of the Western democracies against the declared mortal enemies of our principles of freedom," the paper says.

"It is because Israel is a democracy and an ally - and not because of any muddled bad conscience over our past - that we are also partisan in the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah," it argues.

The entire five-year Afghan project is nothing else but a reconstruction war
"By deciding to send a contingent of engineers, Russia has ended speculations about its participation in the peacekeeping operation in Lebanon," Russia's Gazeta says.

"The operation will be conducted on a bilateral basis," it explains. Russian sappers will be deployed there not under the UN peacekeeping mission flag, but as an individual assistance to a friendly country, the paper adds.

It sees the rebuilding of roads and bridges as "a priority" for Lebanon's ruined infrastructure.

Hungary's Nepszabadsag makes it clear that the Hungarian soldiers who are soon to leave for Afghanistan will be going to "war".

Nato and Afghan forces are currently facing a major upsurge in violence by Taleban militants.

"There is war again. It would be a mistake to replace this ugly word with a euphemism," the paper says.

"Over 100 Hungarian soldiers will go to war, even if it is called a reconstruction mission," the paper believes.

"The entire five-year Afghan project is nothing else but a reconstruction war," it adds.

God and the EU Constitution

Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung criticizes Chancellor Angela Merkel for promising the Pope that she would try to include a reference to Christianity and God in the European Constitution when Germany takes over the EU presidency next year.

Raising the question of God and Christian values only causes barriers against the constitution to go up again, particularly in France
Sueddeutsche Zeitung

In doing so, Frau Merkel, the daughter of a Protestant pastor, "not only contravenes the principle of strict separation of the state and church" in the draft constitution, the paper says.

"She also reveals an astounding ignorance of the European history of ideas and baffling negligence in tackling her future EU presidency."

The chancellor must put her whole political weight behind "things that really matter", the paper warns. "Raising the question of God and Christian values only causes barriers against the constitution to go up again, particularly in France."


France's Liberation takes a front-page look at the European response to the desperate situation surrounding illegal African immigration to Spain, where at least 5,000 drown before they even reach the shore.

"This Russian roulette en masse is genuinely terrifying and it gives one an idea of the distress that those willing to bet their lives in such a way must be fleeing from."

The paper is critical of Spain's recent crackdown, and of some suggestions that all 800,000 illegal immigrants be deported: "This is impossible, and it is irresponsible to lead people to believe the contrary."

It welcomes the other European countries' efforts to share responsibility in this "human disaster" in the Canary Islands, and welcomes EU and West African state co-operation as "very desirable".

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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