European press review

European press review

The countdown to France's referendum on the EU constitution continues, and President Jacques Chirac's latest contribution to the debate has made a lasting impression, on one paper at least.

The climax of a trial in an American court forces the Russian papers to tackle the sensitive issue of cross-border adoption.

And in Spain, there is fresh hope that relations between Madrid and Washington are on the mend.

Chirac in 'pugnacious' form

France's Nouvel Observateur offers President Jacques Chirac plenty of praise for his performance on French television on Tuesday, when he used a prime-time interview to make his case for a 'yes' vote in the forthcoming referendum on the EU constitution.

After the "huge failure" of his previous TV appearance, the paper says, Mr Chirac had the chance to "make up lost ground".

And he succeeded. "Because he sounded convinced," it explains, the president "became convincing", even if "a touch too pugnacious".

But some questions remain unanswered. The paper argues that Mr Chirac's "mendacious side" surfaced towards the end of the interview.

"How," it asks, "can we believe his claim of having always been a convinced European, when he objected to the admission of Spain and Portugal into the EU?"

Adoption row

A US court on Wednesday sentenced an American woman, Irma Pavlis, to 12 years in prison for beating her adopted Russian son, Alexei, to death. The reaction to the case in the Russian press is one of anger.

"An orphan's life is worth not a cent!" exclaims the headline in Novyye Izvestia .

"Unfortunately," it reflects, "this is not an isolated case. According to information from the Russian prosecutor-general's office, 13 children adopted from Russia have been killed by foreigners over the last few years."

But the problems facing Russian children start at home, the paper adds.

"You cannot fail to notice their no less lamentable condition here in Russia," it says. "A programme announced by President Putin in 2002 to eradicate the phenomenon of homeless, abandoned children is yet to bear results."

"There are hundreds of cases of cruelty to adopted children who have left Russia with their new parents," observes Tribuna .

And yet, it says, "the number of children finding new homes overseas has exceeded the number of orphans taken in by Russian families".

"This," it concludes, "is not only a socioeconomic indicator, but one of morality."

Sovetskaya Rossiya went to press before the sentence was announced, but its view of the case is blunt and to-the-point.

"Damn you, America!" it seethes.

"Alexei, thrown into poverty in Russia, was used 'for spare parts' in the US," the paper complains.

Amigos again

In Spain, La Vanguardia is pleased with the reception accorded in Washington to Defence Minister Jose Bono by his opposite number, Donald Rumsfeld.

"Bearing in mind that a veteran like Rumsfeld never says anything for nothing," the paper notes, "we must take his statements literally."

And the statements in question, it argues, reveal that, "despite the obvious annoyance" caused by Spain withdrawing its troops from Iraq, by its "sale of strategic equipment" to Venezuela, and by the "greater understanding" shown by Madrid towards Cuban leader Fidel Castro's regime, "the United States continues to regard Spain as a vital strategic ally".

Nowhere does this ring more true, the paper adds, than with Spain's role in "Nato's Mediterranean flank, in North Africa and the Middle East".

It's a dog's life

Russia's Novyye Izvestia has news of the Moscow city government's latest initiative to clean up the city.

"After the homeless and the prostitutes," the paper reports, "the turn has now come for stray animals to be rounded up and removed from the centre of Moscow."

What has made animal-lovers in the Russian capital "sound the alarm", it adds, is that, in the run-up to Victory Day, dogs in particular "have been disappearing without trace".

"But," the paper says, "the city authorities promise that the hounds have only been removed temporarily, and will allegedly be returned after the celebrations."

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

Published: 2005/05/05 05:21:52 GMT


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