International Papers

Stitching Things Up


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In an interview with the Financial Times of London, Madeleine Albright said Thursday she had run out of metaphors to describe the state of the Middle East peace process. But this did not prevent her from saying of the 1993 Oslo accords, “Instead of glue, it’s been sandpaper.” She seemed to be siding with Yasser Arafat against Benjamin Netanyahu when she said 1) the Palestinian Authority chief had done his best to improve security for Israelis against Palestinian terrorism (“We have stated over and over again that 100 percent effort [by Arafat’s police] may not always bring 100 percent effect”) and 2) Netanyahu, despite admitted political difficulties at home, was “in a pretty strong position in his cabinet.” But when asked if the United States was finally putting pressure on Israel, Albright replied, “It’s not our policy.”

The merger between Chrysler and Germany’s Daimler-Benz led the front page of the FT and all German newspapers. In an editorial page analysis, the FT said that “without a successful merger of minds, the transaction could rapidly turn sour.” “Or as Janis Joplin put it in ‘One Night Stand’: ‘Just because we loved tonight, please don’t think it’s gonna stay that way,’ ” the FT concluded. La Stampa of Turin, Italy, home of Fiat, lauded the marriage as a “union without conquest” and attributed this to the launch of the euro. “The single currency is bringing the two shores of the Atlantic closer together,” it said. Le Monde of Paris said the negotiations reflected the increased power of the German automobile industry.

Italian newspapers all led on the fatal mudslides in southern Italy, with the predictable comment that political incompetence was partly responsible. But they also gave big play to the meeting in Washington between President Clinton and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, who described their encounter as “a magic moment” in U.S.-Italian relations. But Ennio Caretto, Washington correspondent of Corriere della Sera of Milan, noted the president had inserted “a premeditated and cunning note” into his condolences about the mudslides. Prodi said U.S. aid for the victims would come from Aviano, the U.S. air base out of which an American plane recently sliced a ski-lift cable, killing 20 people and starting a wave of anti-Americanism in Italy.

Le Monde led Thursday with the headline “Cancer: a Hope From America.” The subject: Judah Folkman’s encouraging experiments in Boston on mice. This was a huge story around the world this week. France-Soir, the Paris evening newspaper, led by contrast with a story of a revolt by about 100 French dentists against mercury fillings, which they claim to be dangerous. They are asking all their fellow dentists to sign an appeal against such fillings (even though, unfortunately, they are already in the teeth of around 30 million French people).

In London Thursday, the Evening Standard led with the news that the dean of Westminster Abbey in London was under attack for giving money from TV companies to the Princess of Wales Memorial Fund when it should have been given to “the choristers of Westminster Abbey Choir as a result of their participating in the Princess’s funeral service.” The choirboys and their parents didn’t receive any money in expenses, even though “a number of parents spent hundreds of pounds cutting short holidays to return their sons to sing at the service, which was broadcast live to hundreds of millions of viewers across the world,” the newspaper said.

Amid growing hopes of success for the Ulster peace agreement, the Irish Independent of Dublin said in an editorial titled “Peace in their grasp” that “Tony Blair made an excellent move when he invited his predecessor, John Major, to campaign with him in Northern Ireland for a Yes vote in the May 22 referendum.” “A united front of the present and former British prime ministers must have a powerful impact,” it said. Spanish newspapers led with a new Basque terrorist murder, El País reporting this side by side with a report from Dublin about the IRA agreeing that its political wing, Sinn Fein, might participate in an Ulster parliamentary assembly.