Viewing cable 09BERLIN1148, MEDIA REACTION: AFGHANISTAN, EU, ECONOMIC, U.S.-WILSON
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|09BERLIN1148||2009-09-17 11:11||2011-01-13 05:05||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy Berlin|
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 BERLIN 001148 STATE FOR INR/R/MR, EUR/PAPD, EUR/PPA, EUR/CE, INR/EUC, INR/P, SECDEF FOR USDP/ISA/DSAA, DIA FOR DC-4A VIENNA FOR CSBM, CSCE, PAA "PERISHABLE INFORMATION -- DO NOT SERVICE" SIPDIS E.0. 12958: N/A TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO GM US RS IR PK IN IC SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: AFGHANISTAN, EU, ECONOMIC, U.S.-WILSON ¶1. Lead Stories Summary ¶2. (Afghanistan) Presidential Elections ¶3. (EU) Barroso Election ¶4. (Economic) U.S. Recession, Lehman Bros. ¶5. (U.S.) Issue of Race in America ¶1. Lead Stories Summary ZDF-TV's and ARD-TV's primetime newscasts opened with stories on the European Parliament's reelection of Jose Manuel Barroso to a second term as EC President. Newspapers led with various stories. Frankfurter Allgemeine, Berliner Zeitung and FT Deutschland led with reports on election fraud allegations against President Karzai. Stern magazine's cover story said: "Get out of Afghanistan-but when and how?" Editorials focused on the Barroso's reelection and the German election campaign. ¶2. (Afghanistan) Presidential Elections The EU observers' statement that a quarter of all Afghan votes are questionable is a major story in the German media this morning. Front-page headlines included: "EU accuses Karzai of large-scale election fraud" (Frankfurter Allgemeine), "EU mistrusts Karzai's victory" (Berliner Zeitung), "Afghan elections turn into farce" (FT Deutschland) Under the headline "Stolen election," Frankfurter Allgemeine commented: "It is disastrous that, according to the EU election observers, a quarter of the ballots cast in the Afghan elections were manipulated or are suspicious. This raises the question whether the international community can still cooperate with President Karzai, apparently the main benefactor of the fraud. This undermines the legitimacy of the Kabul government and its already weak authority throughout the country.... Is there an alternative to Karzai? The Afghans themselves must make this decision without too much interference from outside. However, this poses the risk of violent conflicts.... Instead of plunging the country into the turbulence and conflicts of an election campaign, we should have strengthened the rule of law and fight corruption." S|ddeutsche Zeitung carried a front-page photo showing women wearing burqas and holding a sign saying "reconciliation." In an editorial under the headline "The Afghan disaster," the paper said: "America and Europe must make the decision whether to recognize Karzai as president at all." The paper added: "Given the hopeless situation, it would be better to leave the decision to a Loya Jirga, which traditionally enjoys legitimacy in Afghanistan. The representatives like to meet for a long time and that would put us in the middle of the Afghan winter. This would have advantages: even the toughest Taliban turn into pacifists in the icy winter. This would give decision-makers in Europe and the U.S. time to profoundly reconsider the war and democracy in Afghanistan." Tagesspiegel opined: "Nobody can believe four weeks after the election in Afghanistan that President Karzai has reached an absolute majority. Is the winner clear? Not at all. A new battlefield is opening up in the country, which is divided more than any other country.... It must be seen as an affront against the West that the preliminary results were announced only hours after the massive fraud allegations. Given the elections disaster, we might consider whether it would not have been better to put the elections at the end of the democratization process." Berliner Zeitung's editorial headlined "Annulling the elections _or civil war" and remarked: "This election must be annulled. Such a decision would not move Afghanistan forward, but it would prevent it from experiencing a decade-long setback." BERLIN 00001148 002 OF 004 Regional newspaper Der Neue Tag commented: "Despite all the praise he got in advance, President Karzai is increasingly a part of the problem and not part of the solution. He does not have his country under control. The administration, army, police forces and the courts are more corrupt than ever before. It takes a lot of help to manipulate 1.5 to 5.5 million votes." ¶3. (EU) Barroso Election All papers carried reports and editorials on Barroso's re-election, with much of the commentary expressing doubt whether Barroso was the right choice. ARD-TV's late evening newscast Tagesthemen commented: "The outcome of the election is clear, but we have not heard in Brussels and elsewhere that this was also a good choice. During his first term, Jos Manuel Barroso did not acquire great respect. Why then his re-election? This is indeed the question. The reason we hear almost everywhere including from Berlin is that there was no alternative. Apart from the fact that this is a poor argument, it is also nonsense. It is probably right that something else but Barroso was not desired. Not only because it is much more comfortable for the big EU countries to have someone at the top in the EU who gives in readily to their requests. And it is probably more important that the EU member states are governed by a generation of politicians whose European ambitions tend to be zero." Westdeutscher Rundfunk radio of Cologne broadcast the following commentary: "the past weeks demonstrated that Europe is witnessing a change in its political institutions. The [European] Parliament has become stronger. Basically, there should have been an election campaign with several candidates and not a just a concert of complaints about Barroso. But this is something the parties only realized after his reelection. Very few people acknowledged regarding Barroso that his job requires more skill in reaching compromises than any position in the world except for the Secretary General of the United Nations, who has to find a common denominator for the policies of China, Russia, Europe, and the U.S. Everyone who criticizes Barroso these days should answer the question of what Barroso could have done better [in his first term]." DeutschlandradioKultur opined: "The question now is whether Barroso will take advantage of his second term and whether he will really change his political style in a way he promised. The chances are not bad. Many previous presidents of the European Commission had a weak first term. There is a simple reason for this: Commission presidents are allowed to run only two terms in a row. Barroso can now enter into the many conflicts much freer than during his first term." In the view of Frankfurter Allgemeine, "No other previous European Commission president has presented such a comprehensive working program and was asked to make such far-reaching concessions. But with this great variety of concessions, the old and the new president confirmed his reputation, namely that he does not pursue his own independent policy but rather changes his colors like a chameleon, saying whatever the EU leaders want to hear." According to Financial Times Deutschland, "the social democratic members of the European Parliament [EP] must also be blamed for the lack of competition about the best ideas and the most important position in Brussels. They shied away from suggesting an alternative to Barroso. In view of the conservative majority in the EP, it seemed hopeless to assert one's own candidate. But the current legal situation must also be blamed for the situation because the European Parliament only plays a side role when determining the Commission President. But this will change as soon as the Lisbon reform treaty will enter into force. The EP will then gain in significance and a true competition will become possible." BERLIN 00001148 003 OF 004 Handelsblatt editorialized: "The tasks that lie ahead of the next European Commission are enormous. At issue is not only how to lead the EU in an orderly way out of the crisis. This is a task for which Barroso, after his yearlong laissez-faire policy, seems to be ill-prepared. At issue is also how to lead the EU on a new sustainable path of growth. Both tasks will become extremely difficult because, during this crisis, the 27 EU member states have drifted apart. There is hardly anything in common anymore between jeopardized countries such as Ireland and Latvia and recovering countries such as France and Germany. Egotism and nationalism are on the advance. At the same time, EU policies such as the Stability Pact and the Lisbon agenda for jobs and economic growth have turned out to be fragile. Even the EU's internal market, the supportive pillar of a common economic policy, is suffering. It is high time for a general overhaul of the EU." Regional daily Mannheimer Morgen observed: "As far as politics is concerned, Barroso is only a lightweight. In the coming five years, the European Commission will have get an even less significance under his leadership. He owes his re-election to the 27 EU leaders. He knows this and will act correspondingly. That is why we should not expect an independent self-confident course from Barroso. Those who think that he has a great selection of possible EU commissioners are wrong. That is why the European Commission will fail as an engine of reform." ¶4. (Economic) U.S. Recession, Lehman Bros. Under the headline: "The Right Timing," Frankfurter Allgemeine judged: "The U.S. economy has finally left behind the worst of the recession and is again moderately growing. Fed chief Ben Bernanke stated this. He is right with his assessment that all obstacles for an economic recovery have not yet been removed. There are still some burdens for the consumers and that is why Bernanke and some of his colleagues are not in a rush to end their relaxed monetary policy Nevertheless, it is necessary to carefully prepare for a change of course to a stricter availability of money and not to miss the right timing. The liquidity that was necessary to stabilize the financial system and the economy must be siphoned off in time. Otherwise consumer prices will inflate and new dangerous bubbles in the markets for assets such as stocks and real estate will be looming." Financial Times Deutschland headlined: Caught in a Bubble," and judged: "It may be possible that the largest economic areas have left behind the recession and are on their best way to recover. But no one knows how strong the upswing will be and in order to justify the euphoria in the financial markets, this upswing must be gigantic. If the stock markets continue to rise and, at the same time, the interest rates for securities go down, then this is a clear indication that too much money is in the markets. In the financial markets, the next bubble is developing and the central banks should do everything to let the air slowly out of them. But the Fed and the European Central Bank are in a dilemma. If they now end the extremely expansive monetary policy of the past months...they would probably suffocate the fragile economic upswing. The central banks must resolve a basic problem: consumer prices are taking a completely different course than asset prices. That is why the central banks should make up their mind as quickly as possible on how to deal with this situation. And investors should assume that this new bubble will not grow forever." Regional daily Die Tagespost of W|rzburg opined: "The balance sheet one year after the bankruptcy of Lehman Bros. is not very promising. The decisive question has not yet been answered: will the G-20 succeed in chaining the international finance world at the upcoming summit in Pittsburgh? Everyone agreed that another fiasco can be prevented only if at all three levels - the international, the European, and the national level - rules are adopted that BERLIN 00001148 004 OF 004 mercilessly tackle non-transparent financial products, greed, and excessive bonus payments for managers. The market itself does not have sufficient self-healing forces. This is for sure." ¶5. (U.S.) Issue of Race in America Commenting on former President Carter's statement that Rep. Wilson's outburst during a speech by President Barack Obama was "based on racism," Frankfurter Allgemeine wrote: "We are currently burying another hope many contemporaries associated with Obama: the end of the divide running through American politics and society. The reform of the health care system is being fought with a vengeance.... However, [with his comment about Rep. Wilson] the former President is not exactly a model for a debating culture.... In America accusations of racism can kill even legitimate criticism." MURPHY