Opel management called on staff to abandon any false illusions that parent General Motors

was the root cause of the ailing European carmaker's problems and accept its own shortcomings.

I am not of the opinion that we can make GM responsible for all of our problems. That is only a poor excuse to avoid assuming responsibility for the difficult situation - it's a victim mentality, chief executive Nick Reilly said in a letter to workers after appointing his new management team last Friday.

Lacking a product smaller than its Corsa subcompact already hurt in normal market conditions, but Opel's problems would be exacerbated due to a likely sharp decline in volumes in 2010.

In the letter, Reilly forecast the western European car market would lose 1.5 million units this year, implying a total level of around 12.1 million vehicles.

(Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner; Editing by Dan Lalor)