International Papers

Bearish in Berlin, Bullish in Russia

As President Bush left the protest-filled streets of Berlin for a friendly welcome in Moscow, Britain’s Daily Telegraph noted the “paradoxical expectation of a hot reception in Germany and an easy ride in Russia. … On the face of it, the President will be cementing a new friendship with America’s erstwhile foe while seeking to shore up ties with its long-term allies.” The Khaleej Times of Dubai also pointed out that when Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Germany recently, he was “feted all around” while Bush was “greeted with demonstrations.” Part of the problem is chemistry, according to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “The kind of closeness that exists between [German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Putin], who have visited each other’s private homes several times and whose families have met, is missing between Mr. Schröder and Mr. Bush.”

FAZ reported that during Bush’s visit to the German capital, a protest group was “prevented from tying a huge pretzel to a construction crane” and other pretzel imagery was painted over. “Reminding the president that he almost choked on a pretzel in January is considered so spiteful that the police were guaranteed to respond promptly with a merciless application of its ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy.”

According to BBC Monitoring, several regional and national German papers challenged the anti-Bush protesters. On the day Bush arrived in Germany, Die Weltpublished a letter in English headed “Welcome, Mr. President.” It said the majority of Germans were not on the side of the demonstrators. “On the contrary. We are with you in the sober realization that it is our duty to combat tyranny and terrorism with courage and clarity of purpose.” The Berliner Morgenpost expressed a similar sentiment, declaring, “Your country has given generously of itself, and we Berliners thank you from the bottom of our hearts. A radical minority will not prevail: We bid you welcome to Berlin.”

In Russia, the Moscow Times predicted that Russia’s cooperation with Iran will be a stumbling block to good relations with the United States. The editorial continued, “We would also like to see Bush do more to challenge Putin’s claims that he is doing his bit in the fight against international terrorism by waging war in Chechnya and tell him that Russia is only exacerbating the problem by allowing human rights abuses there to continue unabated. We’re not holding our breath.”