- The Washington Times - Monday, October 27, 2003

From combined dispatches

BRUSSELS — A majority of residents in the European Union think their countries should participate in rebuilding Iraq even though Europeans overwhelmingly believe the United States should bear the primary responsibility, an opinion poll released yesterday shows.

The survey, taken for the European Commission in all 15 EU member states ahead of last week’s Iraq donors’ conference in Madrid, also found that most Europeans wanted the United Nations and Iraq’s provisional government — not Washington — to manage the reconstruction effort.

Most opposed sending their countries’ troops to keep peace in Iraq, although opinion was almost evenly divided.

The poll showed overwhelming support for EU humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people but a much narrower majority in favor of financial participation in rebuilding the country.

Asked who should finance the rebuilding of Iraq, 65 percent of EU residents said the United States, 44 percent the United Nations, 29 percent the Iraqi provisional government and 24 percent the European Union. Multiple answers were allowed.

Asked whether they favored their own countries’ financial participation in rebuilding Iraq, 54 percent said they were totally or partially in favor, and 45 percent said they were totally or partially opposed.

Despite the findings, European governments were only minor donors at the Madrid conference, where some $13 billion in new funds were raised, $8.5 billion of that in loans from Japan, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The United States is seeking congressional approval for another $20 billion.

The poll found less enthusiasm for sending European peacekeepers to Iraq, where U.S. forces were facing an average of 35 attacks a day. Support was higher than expected, with 44 percent saying they were in favor compared with 54 percent who were opposed.

Support was highest in countries that supported or participated in the war to oust Saddam Hussein, and lowest in those that opposed the military offensive.

There were majorities for sending troops in Denmark, the Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, Sweden and Britain, while the strongest opposition to sending peacekeepers was in Germany, Greece, Austria and France.

Six months after the toppling of Saddam, a majority in every EU country except Denmark said the war was unjustified.

Overall, 68 percent of EU residents questioned said the war was totally or rather unjustified, while 29 percent said it was totally or rather justified.

The biggest antiwar majorities were in Greece (96 percent), Austria (86 percent), France (81 percent) and Spain (79 percent), even though the Spanish government supported the war.

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