- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 11, 2002

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

La Stampa

Exiling Palestinians to Italy

TURIN, Italy In the last few hours, convergent pressures from the Vatican and the United States have been concentrating on Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to obtain a "yes" that would unblock negotiations, which have been going on the past few weeks in Bethlehem and that seemed, until [Tuesday] morning, a step away from success.

So, Berlusconi says no to his "friend" Bush. The government has felt ignored and excluded by a negotiation that has traveled along channels that are parallel and never communicating with the government's official ones.

Cardinals, ex-Christian Democrats and sui generis negotiators have been involved in a story with passages that are still obscure and where we have seen all sorts of structures in use, apart from the structures and diplomats of the Italian government.

Whether or not the "no" is repeated … to the U.S. administration is absolute or definitive or whether it is not still possible to find an agreement is perhaps early to say. But [Tuesdays] kamikaze attack serves as a reminder of how urgent it is to find a way out.

The Guardian

The French election

LONDON France's 2002 presidential election was by turns shocking, shaming and shambolic. It will not quickly be forgotten, nor will the wounds quickly heal.

In the end, Jean-Marie Le Pen obtained nothing like the 30 percent or more of the poll that his supporters claimed was possible. Yet his second-round vote remained rock solid, undented by two weeks of fierce attack from across the political spectrum.

With between 5 million and 6 million votes all told, he was up about 1 million votes on his 1995 presidential showing. If all of [Sundays] National Front voters maintain their allegiance in next month's general election, Mr. Le Pen will massively extend his parliamentary influence.

The French did indeed turn out, en masse, to block Mr. Le Pen, as urged. But the bottom-line figures for the Front nevertheless suggest deep-rooted and slowly gaining strength, as if it were a tumor growing on the flank of French society.

The threat has been contained, for now; nobody will die just yet. But it has not been vanquished. The new fascism did not triumph yesterday; but nor did it fail.

Yomiuri Shimbun

Aung San Suu Kyi's release

TOKYO Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was released Monday from house arrest imposed by the nation's military government 19 months ago.

The move deserves praise as an important step toward democratization of this Asian country. But it is only a first step. We hope further steps will be taken in this direction.

Suu Kyi said the phase of building confidence with the military government was over and that she wanted to start discussions with the military government on substantive political issues, such as transferring power to a civil government.

However, the path toward political dialogue remains thorny. There inevitably will be difficulties ahead.

Both sides are at least superficially positive toward a continued dialogue, and this is a hopeful sign for the country. …

In the past, Suu Kyi has clung to her ideals and refused to accept compromises. If she has adopted a more pragmatic stance, progress can be expected in her dialogue with the military government.

Dagens Nyheter

The slaying of Pim Fortuyn

STOCKHOLM Telephone harassment and threats of violence are part of everyday life of many leading politicians. Not least for politicians who have taken sides against xenophobia and racism. But the threats very seldom turn into deeds. The slaying of [Dutch politician] Pim Fortuyn is however a reminder of the vulnerability of the open society. More politicians will shun crowds and contacts with common voters after Monday's evil deed. They give up going to restaurants and the movies. They pick and chose in the pile of invitations to public discussions. They remain behind the shaded, armored windows in their limousines. Europe has become colder.

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