Friday, May 27, 2005

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

The Times of London

The Caspian pipeline

LONDON — The formal opening [Wednesday] of the $4 billion pipeline to carry oil more than 1,000 miles from the Caspian to the Mediterranean is a triumph of Western engineering, a strategic coup in the competition with Russia for influence in its former republics and a tribute to the acumen of BP [British Petroleum], which holds the principal stake in the international consortium. This “project of the century,” which will eventually be linked to the huge Kazakh oil fields in Central Asia, has been built, on time and within budget, in the face of strong opposition from Moscow. It is crucial in lessening Western dependence on oil from the Middle East. And it is an impressive demonstration of technology, given that the pipeline traverses some of the roughest topography, political as well as physical, in the world.

It would be unwise, however, to conclude that the pipeline has secured the West’s energy future. Despite the vast proven resources of the Caspian and Central Asia, the world’s thirst for oil is growing at an exponential rate. The West, therefore, should use the time it has bought and its superior technology to invest seriously, and on a massive scale, into alternative energy sources. This does not simply mean building more unsightly wind farms and waxing lyrical about wave power. Far more important is the search for an alternative to the internal combustion engine, the biggest consumer of [gasoline] and one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions. …

Yomiuri Shimbun

Japan-China relations

TOKYO — Initially, Beijing said Vice Premier Wu Yi had to “attend to emergency public duties” when it explained why she had to return home immediately. On Tuesday, however, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman issued a statement citing strong dissatisfaction felt by Beijing about remarks made by Japanese leaders, including Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, about repeated visits to Yasukuni Shrine by the prime minister as a reason for its decision to cancel Mrs. Wu’s planned meeting with the prime minister.

A memorial service for fallen soldiers in any country is to be held in accordance with that nation’s culture and tradition. Admittedly, there are arguments among Japanese for and against prime ministerial visits to the shrine, which enshrines Class-A war criminals. However, the controversy should never be settled through interference by another country.

It should be recognized … that China — not Japan — has been responsible for hampering efforts to improve the relationship between the two nations in recent years. Beijing’s actions deserve to be seen as moves no one wants to look at and as a possible attempt to destroy a building in a moment.

Bergens Tidende

Karzai and Bush

BERGEN, Norway — Prisoner abuse and opium weigh heavy on the relationship between the U.S. and Afghan presidents. Mistreatment was an American abuse. The U.S. also shares the blame for opium production.

Most heroin sold in the world is believed to originate in Afghanistan. … If the evil is to be fought, the Afghan drug barons must be caught. And farmers must see an alternative.

The warlords were allies against the Taliban. Now a central government is being built. But the warlords took their small empires with them into the new situation and into the government. …

[Afghan President Hamid] Karzai expressed shock over reports of two prisoners dying of abuse, and demanded control over the country’s prisoners. That is no guarantee of better conditions, but shows the president’s need for a better political situation.

Afghanistan needs a central power that can create a positive development. That is not compatible with an opium economy and violations of prisoners’ human rights. Both Karzai and President George W. Bush have a lot of work to do.

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