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Press review | 25/02/2013



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Cyprus votes for austerity

Anastasiades will negotiate with the EU and the IMF in the coming weeks over a rescue programme to stave off state bankruptcy. (© dapd)


The conservative Nikos Anastasiades will be Cyprus's next president. Anastasiades, who campaigned on an austerity platform, won against the leftist candidate Stavros Malas in a runoff vote on Sunday, securing 57.5 percent of the vote. Some commentators are delighted that the new president will tackle overdue reforms in the highly-indebted country. Others fear he will submit to foreign demands regarding both the austerity policy and the Cyprus dispute.

Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

Cyprus can finally tackle its problems

Cyprus stands a good chance of pushing through reforms under its new president Nikos Anastasiades, the left-liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: "The Greek Cypriots' new conservative president will be a considerably more obliging partner than his communist predecessor Dimitris Christofias, who did all he could to avoid having to sign an agreement with the EU and the International Monetary Fund. But Anastasiades' job won't be easy. Right before the election the EU Commission put out new negative figures on Cyprus's econmy. ... Without cuts in the public service, which is also too big in Cyprus, there can be no progress. ... The mistakes that Athens and the international players made should not be repeated in Nicosia. But if it can restructure its banks, Cyprus is in a better position than Greece. The administration is better organised, Nicosia can pin its hopes on large gas reserves, and it has now a prime minister with a clear majority" (25/02/2013)

La Repubblica - Italy

Austerity not easy to put into practice

More than half of the Cypriots showed their support for the austerity policy by voting for Anastasiades. But it won't be implemented without protests, the left-liberal daily La Repubblica predicts: "Anastasiades, the 66-year-old leader of the conservatives, now has just one mission as president: to secure the 17 billion euros in EU money needed to save the country from bankruptcy. ... In return the EU wants Anastasiades to implement the promised harsh fiscal reforms and actively combat tax evasion. … This difficult task is now in the hands of the 'pragmatic conservative', as he is known: ... A president who according to observers will push through the austerity measures and has the strength to defy the protests that will soon replace the celebrations on the streets of Nicosia." (25/02/2013)

Kathimerini - Greece

Anastasiades' dangerous pact with Merkel

The new Cypriot president is popular in Berlin not just because of his adherence to the austerity policy, the conservative daily Kathimerini notes, fearing that Anastasiades and Merkel will retable the Annan Plan that failed in 2004 and that foresees the reunification of the island as a confederation divided into two constituent states: "Anastasiades has never made any bones about his convictions regarding the Annan Plan [he supported it in 2004] and the austerity memorandum, which creates a truly explosive combination. The economic submission of Cyprus may not just be a temporary phase. It could be the beginning of a new tragedy that continues with the signing of a new Annan Plan inspired by the Germans. ... Through the austerity memorandum, political pressure could be exerted on Cyprus's 'new' leadership so that it is faced with a fait accompli and accepts it. Or in other words, it is forced to approve a solution to the Cyprus dispute on the basis of the shameful Annan Plan." (24/02/2013)


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El Huffington Post - Spain

Italy votes for false messiah

The Italians have until this afternoon to elect a new parliament. But whoever emerges as the winner of the parliamentary election won't be in government for long, Silvia Ragusa predicts in the Spanish edition of the left-liberal online paper Huffington Post: "Europe is looking in fear to Italy. And the majority of Italians are tired of the broken promises and old-school politics. Like little shepherds they are looking for a star to guide them. We will see the result in the next few days. The challenges are great. ... But whatever happens, whoever wins, Italy's political sky remains pretty unclear. The experts say the government won't last long. So the post of Italian head of government will be occupied for only a short period. And perhaps by a false messiah." (25/02/2013)

Wiener Zeitung - Austria

Gauck's passion for Europe is fitting

In his first speech on Europe policy, German President Joachim Gauck called for greater commitment to Europe on Friday. The state-run liberal Wiener Zeitung praises his passionate address: "If Europe still believes in itself then it will set aside the pointless bickering of vain prime ministers and focus on its real task of creating a happy society worth living in. ... The EU must recognise that deficits and public debt do not make a programme. And it must give the citizens a lot more leeway. Bureaucratic obstacles simply because nations have borders - get rid of them. Petty discussions over the budget - get rid of them. Politicians who are out only to fill their own pockets (as in Spain) - get rid of them. Leaving France alone in the fight against terrorists in Mali - unacceptable. The European Parliament and the EU Commission must take a stance on these topics - emphatically, and following up with deeds. Gauck has called on the citizens of Europe to rise up for Europe. It would be a fine thing if many of them were infected by his enthusiasm." (22/02/2013)

Sega - Bulgaria

Naive Bulgarians expecting miracles

Even after the resignation of the conservative government under Boiko Borisov, tens of thousands of Bulgarians protested on Sunday. Their demands include the nationalisation of the energy companies, a greater say in the political process and a new constitution. Pie-in-the-sky demands that are typical of the Bulgarian mentality, the economist Emil Harsev writes in the daily Sega: "Taken together, the protesters' chaotic demands revive an old chimera of the 1990s - the desire for a Hollywood-type miracle that will give us a better, happier and more prosperous life overnight. In the past it was with just such silly dreams that the people created idols, heaved them into power like divinities and expected miracles from them, only to hate, curse and bring them down them later. ... The myth of the saviour of the nation was created in the 1990s, which were marked by poverty and despair. And it's been with us ever since. My fear is that the Bulgarians need their hallucinations to be able to come to terms with reality. So let's sit back and wait for the next miracle." (24/02/2013)

Delo - Slovenia

Borisov's resignation exemplary

The resignation of the Bulgarian government following massive protests against high electricity prices and Prime Minister Boiko Borisov has improved Bulgaria's image abroad, writes columnist Miha Jenko in the left-liberal daily Delo: "With the manner of his resignation and above all his explanation for it Borisov has proven that he is a great politician and European democrat. His words about giving the people back the power they had conferred on him and about the worthlessness of a political leadership and a parliament that surrounds itself with an iron fence to protect itself from its own people made the headlines in all the media last week. Not just in my eyes but undoubtedly in the eyes of the European community too, he has gained in stature and boosted Bulgaria's political standing. ... Borisov is certainly a role model for a good few people - and for us too." (25/02/2013)

Blog Aktuálně.cz - Czech Republic

Protest against Communists vital

Amidst protests against the growing influence of the Communists, the Czech Republic commemorates the 65th anniversary of the Communists seizing power today. Šimon Heller, spokesman of the demonstrators in southern Bohemia, explains why the protests are vital in his blog with Aktuálně.cz: "Unfortunately we live in a schizophrenic situation in which the law condemns the former regime as unlawful, but the party that upheld that regime is regarded as democratic and is allowed to participate in elections. This must change. A totalitarian and criminal organisation cannot be tolerated in a democracy. ... People point fingers at us for not respecting the result of election in which the Communists are successful, calling this unconstitutional behaviour. This is a completely false interpretation of democracy. ... There is also a right to freedom of expression. ... We protest against the creation of immoral coalitions, against the Social Democrats forming a coalition with a totalitarian party simply for the sake of staying in power." (25/02/2013)

The Daily Telegraph - United Kingdom

By-election nuisance for British voters

By-elections will take place in the British constituency of Eastleigh on Thursday to determine who will fill the vacancy created when the Liberal Democratic MP Chris Huhne stepped down at the beginning of February over charges of perverting the course of justice. But the voters have simply had enough of politics, the conservative paper The Daily Telegraph writes: "Some in the press are calling this the most important by-election for 30 years. But important to whom? To the candidates and activists and parties, certainly. But to locals it seems more like a nuisance. It isn't that they don't want to vote. It's that their faith in politicians has shrivelled to the extent that, no matter how earnest the candidates, they're assumed to be liars, frauds, 'all the same'. ... A week from now, when we know the by-election's result, Westminster will frenziedly assess how each party did. If the Tories have lost, many in that party will consider it a disaster. But at the moment, it seems to me that Eastleigh isn't just going badly for the Tories. It's going badly for politicians full stop." (24/02/2013)


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Welt am Sonntag - Germany

Wolfgang Scheida on the Romanian inferiority complex

The horsemeat scandal, the Roma debate and the Golden Bear win at the Berlin International Film Festival have shown that no other nation in Europe suffers as much from an inferiority complex as Romania does, the Romanian-German author Wolfgang Scheida writes in the conservative Welt am Sonntag: "'We are so small and insignificant', is the biggest lament of the Romanians. Meanwhile a popular nationalist refrain turns the tables and glorifies the country as an anti-Ottoman bulwark. ... As a result, Romania's relations with the outside world can only be ambivalent, and alternate between admiration and rejection. ... When the film by a German-Romanian director won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival recently, there was even too much celebration. The Romanian media enthused about a victory against 'the rest of the world'. ... Romania remains a country with corrupt and populist politicians, plagued by poverty and dubious new rich. It is the scene of daily annoyances, with no end of things that don't work and people ready to rip you off. But for a country that has been looking for a social and moral compass for over 20 years, the film sends something like a normative signal. The only thing that can help against the obsession of being worthless and insignificant is a strong work ethic." (24/02/2013)


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Göteborgs-Posten - Sweden

Currency manipulation is dangerous doping

At their meeting in Moscow in mid-February the G20 states undertook to no longer keep currency exchange rates at an artificially low level to gain an advantage in the export trade. The liberal daily Göteborgs-Posten explains why a currency war would be so dangerous: "A stable currency policy requires an exemplary economy with competitive companies. By contrast, keeping one's own currency low artificially is like doping. For a while the economy performs better but then the competition problems return - often worse than ever. Unfortunately it is politically more convenient to cheat with one's currency rather than to reform a poorly performing economy. French President Hollande is arguing for lowering the euro although he should instead be pushing ahead with economic reforms. Manipulating the euro exchange rate would be extremely dangerous for the cohesion of the euro countries. Such manipulation could also trigger a global currency crisis." (25/02/2013)

Corriere del Ticino - Switzerland

Moody's downgrades British austerity drive

Rating agency Moody's stripped the UK of its top credit rating on Friday, pointing to slow growth and deep indebtedness. Moody's has failed to recognise how crucial the British austerity drive is, the liberal daily Corriere del Ticino regrets: "According to Moody's the austerity policy is also to blame for the gloomy economic outlook. ... But it's difficult to follow this argument. Because if you want to reduce the huge debts that are one of the reasons for the downgrading, belt-tightening measures are imperative. You can call for a combination of growth incentives and austerity measures, but beyond doubt countries with high levels of public debt need to gradually reduce their mountain of debt in order to ensure solid growth. One may not see eye to eye with the conservative-liberal government in London, but its will to reduce the debt mainly through cutbacks in government spending should not be dismissed as unimportant." (25/02/2013)

Dziennik Gazeta Prawna - Poland

France subsidising its economy to death

Several large French companies are currently deeply in the red. Carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroën suffered losses of five billion euros in 2012, while food producer Danone has announced it will cut 900 jobs. The subsidy policy of the French government is to blame, the conservative daily Dziennik Gazeta Prawna writes: "After such a series of fatal results, one can no longer speak of individual management mistakes. These are systemic problems. ... Now the mistakes France made during the EU eastern enlargement are coming back to haunt it. Back then the German companies understood that they wouldn't be competitive to the east of the Oder River. ... The salary difference is simply too great. For that reason they shifted their production to the east in a big way. In France the opposite was the case. The conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy promised state loans to big companies if they refrained from slashing their production at home. Now it will be difficult to redress the situation, because France has already missed that boat." (25/02/2013)


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Ziare - Romania

Romania must finally talk about homophobia

At least 50 right-wing extremists stormed into a cinema in Bucharest last week and disrupted the projection of a film about homosexuals. They shouted slogans like "death to gays", while the police looked on without lifting a finger. On the news website Ziare, the journalist Emilian Isaila calls for a public debate: "It's been a long time since I've seen such a stupid, fanatic and disgusting protest as the one in that cinema. ... We talk about tolerance and freedom, then suddenly a gang of retrograde is standing there, who've never even heard of the term 'minority rights'. Then when they bring in God it puts the icing on the cake. They scream out prayers, take photos and wave the Romanian flag so that people will think they're saintly, patriotic protesters. ... Unfortunately until now there has never been an open discussion on just how racist and homophobic our society is. No one wants to admit it. Instead the political discourse uses the hatred to make itself heard. But a rhetoric of violence will only produce more violence." (25/02/2013)

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