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Major newspapers in Europe drew varying conclusions yesterday from
British Prime Minister Tony Blair's testimony at the judicial
inquiry into the apparent suicide of weapons expert David
Some viewed it as an admirable example of British democracy in
action, while others saw an on-going crisis of credibility for the
leader who took the country into the US-led war on Iraq.
"The Blair government is stepping over a corpse to sell its support
for the 'holy war' to oust Saddam Hussein to its voters," the
Austrian daily Der Standard said.
In Germany, the Berliner Zeitung sniffed at Blair's
"The image of the politician-manager who has all under control has
been punctured, but so long as he keeps up his line of defence, he
will stay in his post (even if there might yet be) new scapegoats,"
In Poland, the Rzeczpospolita said "the credibiity of Great Britain
is at stake", as it quoted a British analyst predicting that "no
one will emerge totally clean" from the inquiry – not Blair,
not the BBC, not even Kelly.
In France, Le Figaro reported that the prime minister had put in "a
robust performance" before Lord Brian Hutton, the judge who heads
the inquiry that Blair himself ordered.
But it asked: "Will it convince the British? That's another
In Spain, El Pais said Blair "took risks in saying that he would
resign if the dossier on Iraq's presumed weapons of mass
destruction was exaggerated, because information of that kind could
still come out".
But it praised the inquiry process, saying: "The British system
sets an example of transparency".
Similar sentiments were expressed in Italy, where La Repubblica
said: "A lie can be fatal for a politician - not here ... but in an
"The country is watching a showdown between Blair and BBC
executives whom he appointed himself," it said. "It's a
manifestation of democracy that shows up even more the
imperfections of our own democracy".
Several European newspapers, from Kommersant in Russia to
Kathinmerini in Greece to Nepszabadsag in Hungary, noted how Blair
took ultimate responsiblity for the outing of Kelly as the source
of a BBC report alleging that Downing Street might have "sexed up"
the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
In the Netherlands, De Volkskrant concluded: "Even if the Hutton
inquiry lets him off the hook, it does not spell a happy ending for
It added: "Because weapons of mass destruction still have not been
found in Iraq, Blair remains vulnerable to accusations that he lied
in his attempts to justify a war". – Sapa-AFP.