- The Washington Times - Friday, March 16, 2007

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Diena

EU favors green power

RIGA, Latvia — The German presidency is beginning to justify the hopes laid upon it. Last fall, when the European Union was suffering doubts about its decision-making ability, international influence and even its future, the Germans emphatically strove to minimize talk that, under their tutelage, the EU would get a new burst in the first six months of 2007 — a chance to set the EU daily regimen and mark solutions to Europe’s painful institutional and psychological problems.

Yet at a session of the European Council late last week, another Europe suddenly emerged — forward-looking, capable of making decisions, internationally significant. EU government leaders agreed on targets to reduce greenhouse emissions to at least 20 percent of 1990 levels by the year 2020. …

In one stroke, the EU has proven it has the ability to overcome serious internal disagreements (in this case over renewable energy), put forward ambitious goals for the future and continue challenging the rest of the world.

La Stampa

Russia’s President Putin

TURIN, Italy — It is clear that the main European governments, from Paris to Rome and Berlin, regard Vladimir Putin as one of the most ambiguous, important characters on the world scene.

During the past seven years … there were negative assessments and positive prejudices about the unknown ex-KGB officer who suddenly emerged from the underground of Bolshevik history to sit on the Kremlin throne.

By “turning American,” Moscow became, ostensibly at least, the most opulent and surprising city of the former communist bloc. On the other hand, especially during Mr. Putin’s second term, we began to feel its degeneration into a condensed mix of personal authoritarianism and formal democracy….

Could the fact that 40 percent of European energy needs depend on Russian natural gas and oil make the Italian government dodge any talk about lack of democracy in Moscow’s parliament or the violent repression of thousands of rioters in St. Petersburg?

Yomiuri Shimbun

The Japan-Australia pact

TOKYO — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and visiting Australian Prime Minister John Howard signed a Japan-Australia joint declaration Tuesday on security cooperation.

Japan has maintained security-cooperation relations with the United States, which is Japan’s only military ally, and this is the first time it has formed such a relationship with another country. …

In the trilateral security relationship of Japan, Australia and the United States, the cooperation between Tokyo and Canberra has been relatively weak. Enhancement of such relations will contribute to peace and stability, not only in East Asia but also the whole international community. …

The joint declaration stipulates stronger cooperation in various fields, including international peacekeeping activities, efforts to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, antiterrorism activities, and securing marine and air transportation safety.

Observer

Treating injured troops

LONDON — The experience of most civilians feels very distant from life in uniform. That is inevitable. Society asks a select few to put their lives in danger so that the many can go about their business untroubled.

But that detachment must never lead to neglect. Shamefully, that is what has happened in the case of injured soldiers treated in degrading conditions at Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham. Shocking letters revealed by the Observer expose the desperate poverty of care they receive. …

Transition to civilian life can be stressful and disorienting. To foist it on a bedridden combat casualty is not just unreasonable, it is cruel. Some hospitalized soldiers have been subjected to abuse from civilians who, disapproving of the Iraq war, direct their anger at the uniformed scapegoats on their ward.

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