Merkel: Madrid bombs could split Europe

16th March 2004, Comments 0 comments

16 March 2004, BERLIN - Europe could face a 'fatal' split in anti-terrorist efforts following the Madrid bombings if countries opposing the Iraq war feel they are immune to attacks, Germany's opposition leader warned Tuesday.

16 March 2004


BERLIN - Europe could face a 'fatal' split in anti-terrorist efforts following the Madrid bombings if countries opposing the Iraq war feel they are immune to attacks, Germany's opposition leader warned Tuesday.

'If one thinks that states which stood by the US in the Iraq war are more likely to be hit by attacks than those against the US - then terrorism would have achieved its first victory,' said Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader Angela Merkel in a Die Welt newspaper interview.

Merkel said this would mark 'a fatal division of Europe and the entire Western world.'

'Terrorism could proceed according to the motto of 'divide and rule'," she said.

German media commentary warned about messages stemming from the attacks and the surprise victory in Sunday's Spanish elections of Socialist prime minister-elect Jose Luiz Rodriguez Zapatero.

'Terrorists changed the political landscape of a democratic nation in Europe,' said the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine paper, adding: 'This is the only explanation of Spain's election landslide.'

The paper noted that even though this was clear to Zapatero, his first comments after winning were to repeat vows to change Spanish military and security policy and withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq by June 30 unless they were put under United Nations mandate.

Zapatero said: 'The war has been a disaster, the occupation continues to be a great disaster.' He also said U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair would have to engage in 'self-criticism' to avoid any repeat of Iraq.

Germany's centre-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung took a similar stance to the Frankfurter Allgemeine - something which seldom happens to the rival newspapers.

'The logic goes further: Only those who distance themselves from the US will not be targets of al-Qaeda,' said the paper, noting that this was a veiled call to destroy the transatlantic alliance.

'This would mean that al-Qaeda achieves - with a one-year delay - what seemed possible at the outbreak of the Iraq war,' said the Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Such an argument is 'convincingly simple and dangerous as fire,' the paper noted.

'It leads the West into deep crisis because it takes on the logic of the terrorists and hands a triumph to Islamic totalitarianism,' the Sueddeutsche said.

The newspaper termed the Spanish election result understandable given that outgoing Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar backed the Iraq war against the will of a majority of Spanish voters.

'But for democracy it is deeply alarming that the decision was made, in the end, under the bombing diktat of al-Qaeda.'

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung concluded that pro-Iraq war governments in Britain, Poland and Italy must be deeply alarmed not just because their re-election chances are threatened but because they must now expect similar terrorist attacks aimed at toppling them.

DPA


Subject: German News

 


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