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Press review | 13/01/2016

 

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Attack on tourists in Istanbul

The attack carried out between the Hagia Sophia museum and the Blue Mosque hit a German tour group and other tourists. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

At least ten people, most of whom were tourists, were killed in a suicide attack in Istanbul on Tuesday. Erdoğan and the Turkish government bear the responsibility for the attack because they fuelled the conflict in Syria, some commentators point out. Others stress that now more than ever the international community must show solidarity with Ankara.

Milliyet - Turkey

Turkey must question its Syria policy

After the attack in Istanbul Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said that such terrorism was the result of the power vacuum and the civil war in Syria. But how much responsibility does his own government bear for the situation, the conservative daily Milliyet asks: "Which powers and states brought about the power vacuum? What stance did your government adopt when it arose? Does your government share responsibility with the West for how the civil war developed and escalated to the current level? If you could turn back the clock, would you once again support the Syrian opposition? Did you take sides in the Syrian civil war, which as you have said is the biggest source of terror? All of these unanswered questions should have been asked yesterday when the first wrong steps were being taken. Unfortunately no one can hear them any more, what with all the noise from the explosions." (13/01/2016)

Avvenire - Italy

Erdoğan is the main problem

Just a few hours after the attack in Istanbul Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that it was carried out by a "suicide bomber of Syrian origin". But Erdoğan himself bears most of the blame, the Catholic daily Avvenire argues: "It is no mere coincidence that the first measure Erdoğan adopted just a few minutes after the attack was a news blackout. This is a further example of the opacity of a regime that makes no secret of the fact that it couldn't care less about transparency or democracy and that is demanding a humiliating tax on refugees from the EU. … Erdoğan has done all he can to worsen the already confused situation in the region. Turkey could have put out the fire that is raging in the region, but instead it has become one of the most dangerous fire-raisers. In many seats of government people are muttering what has long been an open secret: that the main problem is sultan Recep Tayyip Erdoğan." (13/01/2016)

El País - Spain

Europe must show solidarity with Ankara

Regardless of what it thinks about Turkey's domestic affairs, when it comes to foreign affairs Europe must back Turkey unequivocally, the centre-left daily El País admonishes: "Islamist terror is affecting a country that plays a key role in the struggle against the Islamic State, a country which on top of that is also caught up in a deep conflict with its strongest minority, the Kurds, and in a controversy over the new policies of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. But neither of these two latter circumstances should undermine in the least support for Ankara in a struggle in which the Turks play a leading role. The unequivocal message to the IS must be that each new attack, no matter how painful its impact, will only serve to harden the resolve to fight it. And therefore that any assassinations the IS carries out on Turkish soil will only have the effect - clearly undesired by the jihadists - of reinforcing international cooperation with Ankara." (13/01/2016)

La Croix - France

This attack will also fail to unite the West

One terrorist attack follows the next but the West isn't able to find a common strategy, the Catholic daily La Croix laments: "When will this spiral of violence end? Not in the next couple of years, for sure. The complexity of the conflicts calls for complex partial solutions. In the case of Syria, the negotiations due to take place in Vienna on January 21 under the UN's aegis demonstrate that once again. There is no consensus on who is the principal adversary. The IS? Bashar al-Assad ? The Kurdish PYD? The jihadists of al-Nusra, a branch of al-Qaeda that has established itself among the 'legitimate' rebels? Despite the danger of attacks, the West still has not managed to reach an agreement. France, for example, wants both to destroy the IS and to topple Bashar al-Assad. An ambitious double objective that demands patience and staying power. Meanwhile, the conflagration is raging." (12/01/2016)

POLITICS

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Hospodářské noviny - Czech Republic

EU should not interfere in Poland

The new Polish government's massive influence on public radio and television must be condemned, but not by those outside the country, the liberal business paper Hospodářské noviny warns ahead of the EU Commission's meeting on the subject today: "This unpleasant situation must be resolved in Poland. On the one hand because the sanctions that have been alluded to here and there would never come into effect, as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for one has already announced he would use his veto. And on the other hand because numerous politicians have realised that sanctions are simply counterproductive. External pressure on the new PiS government would only reaffirm its conviction that the aim is to drive it into a corner, and that it must defend itself tooth and nail. What's more, the EU states saw how powerless sanctions are long ago, when Jörg Haider's far-right party became part of the Austrian government." (13/01/2016)

Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland

Brussels certainly no enemy of Warsaw

The European Commission will discuss the reforms of the Constitutional Tribunal and of the public broadcasters introduced by the new national conservative government in Poland this Wednesday. The liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza approves: "By joining the EU we undertook not only to observe certain economic rules but also to respect democratic principles and civil rights. … The EU is therefore entitled to protest if these values are not respected. Its fears may be exaggerated - just like the fears of those who claim to be defending democracy in Poland, but it is now the government's duty to prove that those fears are unfounded. … The EU is not an institution that is hostile to the Poles, but a community of which we form part and for which we all bear joint responsibility." (13/01/2016)

Handelsblatt - Germany

Now is the time for Steinmeier to visit Riyadh

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier of the Social Democratic Party on Tuesday defended the plans for his trip to Saudi Arabia in February against criticism from coalition partner the Christian Democratic Union and the opposition. The liberal business daily Handelsblatt concurs that despite the recent mass executions in the Arab state Steinmeier should travel to Riyadh as planned: "When it comes to diplomacy neither friendships nor sympathies nor common moral standards are in the foreground, but only mutual interests. Germany, like the West, depends on Saudi Arabia whether it likes it or not. And we're not necessarily talking about lucrative contracts from Riyadh, but above all about the developments in the unstable Middle East. Cooperation with Saudi Arabia is essential if the civil war in Syria is to be ended. Ostracising the kingdom now would indirectly strengthen Iran, the very regime that is massively backing Assad with money, weapons and troops, and thus prolonging the brutal war." (13/01/2016)

Diário Económico - Portugal

Portugal's new government in a generous mood

Portugal's socialist minority government has only been in office for 40 days yet it has already repealed a number of austerity measures passed by the previous government and watered down others. The liberal daily Diário Económico is sceptical about the result: "In its first days in office the government has been feverishly active without any regard for costs. The list of adopted measures affects the health and education sectors, banks and the transport industry. … Moreover, four public holidays that were scrapped in 2012 have been reintroduced. This is an authentic show of generosity which nonetheless seems more like a strategy for winning the support of the left-wing parties, the trade unions and the voters. So these measures are more like prevention for harder times than a sustainable economic policy for the future." (11/01/2016)

Naftemporiki - Greece

New Nea Dimokratia leader a chance for Greece

The liberal politician Kyriakos Mitsotakis, a member of Greece's Mitsotakis political dynasty, was elected as the new leader of the conservative opposition party Nea Dimokratia in a runoff on Sunday. The conservative business daily Naftemporiki sees this as a major opportunity for Greek politics: "The international community now seems to be taking a different view of the developments in Greece - at least if the press reports on the new opposition leader's reform profile are anything to go by. The election of Kyriakos Mitsotakis has not changed Nea Dimokratia. But it has at least make change possible. We will soon see whether a new liberal centre like those in other developed countries of Europe will emerge in Greece - whether Greece can attain political pluralism. In politics, as on the markets, competition serves above all the interests of the 'consumers'." (12/01/2016)

ECONOMY

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Le Soir - Belgium

EU states afraid to tackle tax sinners

The EU Commission needs allies if it is to be successful in its fight against unlawful tax advantages for companies, the liberal daily Le Soir stresses: "For two years the EU Commission has been making real progress in the fight against opacity and unfair tax competition. But for the current crusade for tax transparency in Europe to be credible it needs the help of the member states. However, the unavoidable rise in taxes that would result from true harmonisation could nip the economic recovery in the bud. And it is not at all certain that the member states are willing to take that risk." (12/01/2016)

Večernji list - Croatia

Croatia must spend money it gets from EU

Croatia called up a mere 59 percent of the EU funding earmarked for it in its financial framework for 2007 to 2013, meaning that the newest member brought up the rear in this respect. In view of the disastrous state of the Croatian economy this is unacceptable, the conservative daily Večernji list rails: "One of the reasons for this poor performance is that the previous governments didn't focus on EU funding but preferred to waste all their efforts on pointless ideological conflicts. … And in the coming years things will only get worse when, with a budget of 1.5 billion euros per year, even more money is at our disposal. There's plenty of money available, but there's no one who can spend it. It takes big projects to extract money from Brussels' coffers. But Croatia has too few projects and those that it has launched are only being implemented very slowly." (13/01/2016)

SOCIETY

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The Daily Telegraph - United Kingdom

German elite suppressing the truth

The fuss in Germany over the new edition of Adolph Hitler's book Mein Kampf and the reactions of politicians and the media to the assaults on women on New Year's Eve in Cologne make it clear that Germany's leaders still have qualms about confronting the German people with the truth, the conservative paper The Daily Telegraph contends: "It is as if Germany's rulers do not trust their own people with the ability to handle uncomfortable truths. Whether those truths are the poisonous doctrines that once entranced the nation and led to the Holocaust and the devastation of Europe in the Second World War, or the more immediately dismaying reality that parts of German cities are no longer safe for German women to walk in because of their own government's policies, the instinct to suppress the truth remains the same. It is a profoundly unhealthy trait." (12/01/2016)

Blog Mozgástér - Hungary

Women's safety sacrificed for economic goals

In the light of the events on New Year's Eve in Cologne it would only be natural to stop the influx of refugees, however Western Europe is refusing to do this for economic reasons, István Kovács writes on blog portal Mozgástér: "The problem is that the decision-makers in the core EU countries are willing to let nation states be further eroded for the sake of economic growth amounting to just a few tenths of one percentage point that is already wasting away. ... In recent decades the Western European integration model has brought forth a generation that is at the throats of the majority population in the name of Allah and harasses and attacks masses of women across Europe. The question is: is this all worthwhile for the sake of a few tenths of one percentage point in economic growth?" (12/01/2016)

De Volkskrant - Netherlands

Sweden hushed up attacks by migrants

Sexual attacks by migrants on women during a festival in August 2015 were hushed up for months by the Swedish police. According to police statements, the events were kept quite to avoid giving the right-wing Sweden Democrats further ammunition against refugees. This is appalling, writes columnist Max Pam in the centre-left daily De Volkskrant: "Clearly the authorities have little interest in accurate facts if the truth plays into the hands of certain groups. That borders on the incomprehensible. Sweden of all countries, where you risk criminal charges if you so much as look at a prostitute; the country that is ready to fight for years to put Julian Assange on trial: there of all places it now seems there has been a major operation to cover up sexual attacks and rapes. ... I find it hard to believe that this is the result of a deliberate policy. Rather it seems that a climate of avoidance and concealment has emerged over time." (13/01/2016)

Blog Adevărul - Romania

Corrupt Romanians commit fraud even behind bars

Romania's anti-corruption agency, the DNA, launched investigations against several ex-politicians and business people already behind bars on Tuesday. They are accused of having faked academic papers in an attempt to have their prison sentences reduced. Commenting on the conservative website Adevărul philosopher Sorin Bocancea is hardly surprised at this latest development: "All it takes is two ingredients - a silly law and prison guards who cover for you - and you have people coming to prison illiterate and leaving it as 'academics'. … The 'imprisoned academics' are rich people in Romania. On the recently published and embarrassing list I was unable to discover even a single prisoner with only an average income. All those mentioned are big fish - thieves and conmen - for whom a few years behind bars means losing out on a few business deals, but not the loss of their fortunes." (12/01/2016)

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