I decided to give my rusty German a workout by rummaging through the German papers. Here are some rough translations.
First, from Die Welt:
Already in the foreground there was the attempt on the diplomatic plane to set aside the disputes over the war in Iraq and to improve trans-Atlantic relations again. Guy Verhofstadt, the Prime Minister of Belgium, the host country, said to Bush that "the most recent tensions should be brought to an end." On Monday, the visit of the U.S. President was accompanied only by small demonstrations.
Also from Die Welt, a sampling of elite opinon:
"I also hope and expect that he takes up his fathers tradition and reaches out to the Germans again. We shouldnt be so foolish as to refuse it. In America we have more friends than in Europe, and more than most Germans realize" (Hans-Werner Sinn)
"Bushs announcements at the beginning of his second term were strong signals. The composition of his foreign policy team signals that he wants actively to involve Europe again. If this succeeds, it depends not only on Bushs willingness to cooperate. Just as crucial are Europes contributions to the substantial formation of geostrategic tasks." (Norbert Walter)
Theres more in this vein, everyone recognizing that theres an opportunity to start anew, hoping that Bush will behave better, and recognizing that the U.S. is the major player here. I didnt find any talk of Europe as a counterbalance.
Heres a piece in the Frankfurter Allgemeine:
Above all, the Presidents forceful inaugural and State of the Union addresses have not failed in their effect. The message of the transformative power of freedom--that gift of God to all mankind--seems less utopian, even in the Middle East, than a few months ago, after on the whole successful elections in Afghanistan, among the Palestinians, and especially in Iraq. However bitter it may sound for many European ears: the possible contributions of erstwhile opponents fo the war to further stabilization of Iraq seems only to be a footnote in the current American debate over Iraq.
In another article, based on a meeting between GWB and European reporters, theres this:
A new Bush? Not so fast. This George W. Bush is, just as before, and perhaps after the elections in Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq even more, convinced of the power of freedom and the example of democracy....So, as it is his way, Bush will remind his European friends from the real-political/postmodern school that it is "our duty to work together so that people can be free." Where? In the Middle East, for example, in Syria or in Iran.
For English-language, America-friendly blogging, see Davids Medienkritik, where theyre organizing a pro-American demonstration in Mainz.
Ill try to keep an eye on the papers to see if the tune and tone change substantially over the course of GWBs Europareise, but at the moment it seems as if his steadfastness is winning grudging respect and prompting the recognition that this gents not for turning.