Slovakia leader hits media on Bush slant (registration required)
The prime minister of Slovakia yesterday blamed the media for unfairly turning the European public against President Bush by negatively slanting coverage on Iraq.Slovakia like many other former Soviet Bloc countries has a better understanding towards what is at stake in this war.
After meeting with Mr. Bush twice in less than a week, Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda told reporters that the president also blamed the press for portraying him as eager to invade Iran to eradicate its nuclear program.
"President Bush told me in Brussels: 'I am so unhappy that media creates the picture that Bush wants war in Iran. This is crazy,' " Mr. Dzurinda told a small group of reporters over lunch.
The prime minister was reminded that while the governments of Central and Eastern Europe supported Operation Iraqi Freedom, the populace was much more skeptical, according to polls.
Mr. Dzurinda responded by telling the journalists, including one from CNN, that he was "shocked" to see media outlets like CNN and the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) showing "only American soldiers killing people. But nobody was able to show Saddam Hussein, who killed many, many thousands of Iraqi people."
"It was impossible to see a real picture of this regime," he lamented. "And the result is the public is one day strongly against Bush. 'Bush loves war,' he's 'new terrorist,' and so on and so on."
The prime minister predicted that it is "only a question of time when people in Slovakia, in Germany, in European countries, will understand more that this activity were necessary. And the world, without Saddam Hussein, is much more democratic than before."
Mr. Dzurinda, who grew up under communist oppression in the Soviet bloc, said nations such as his were more supportive of Operation Iraqi Freedom because they remembered communism. Slovakia has sent troops to Afghanistan and Iraq.
"I spent many years under tyranny," he said. "So I completely understand what it means to fight for democracy -- don't take this for granted.
"Maybe this is why I understand better than Chirac or Schroeder," he added, referring to French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, both of whom opposed the Iraq war.
Mr. Dzurinda also faulted Mr. Chirac and Mr. Schroeder for not understanding Mr. Bush's decision to abandon diplomacy and invade Iraq.
"I understand, [with] the president of the United States, that this is impossible to wait forever," he said. "I hope that the German chancellor and French president understand more today than yesterday."
It would be a miracle if they did.