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Press review | 18/01/2016

 

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The end of sanctions against Iran

President Ruhani described the lifting of sanctions as a "golden page" in Iran's history (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

After the International Atomic Energy Agency found Iran to be in compliance with the restrictions laid down in the nuclear deal the US and the EU lifted their sanctions against the country on Saturday. There is still no basis for truly friendly relations with the Islamic regime, some commentators warn. Others see the step as a major opportunity in the fight against jihadism.

Die Tageszeitung taz - Germany

Tehran hasn't suddenly changed for the better

Just a day after the sanctions were lifted the US imposed further punitive measures on Tehran on Sunday - in this case for its ballistic missile programme. Big question marks still hang over the future of Iran in the international community, comments the left-wing daily taz: "From the Shiite militia creating havoc in Iraq to the political and military backing for Bashar al-Assad's regime (in cooperation with Lebanese Hezbollah), signs of the Islamic Republic having adopted a 'new' course are still lacking. At the same time the human rights situation in Iran has not improved. Iran is the country with the most executions after China and critics and creative artists quickly find themselves behind bars. There's still a long way to go before truly friendly relations between the US and the EU with Iran are established." (18/01/2016)

Hospodářské noviny - Czech Republic

Arms deals must remain taboo

Iran will now become an Eldorado for profiteers, the liberal business paper Hospodářské noviny predicts: "Many people are happy that the deal negotiated with Iran last year will improve the situation there. Iran will have no nuclear weapons and will once again engage in international cooperation. Those who hold this view won't complain that Czech businessmen will also be travelling to Tehran to vie with competitors from all over the world who have suddenly rediscovered Iran as a huge market. ... However at least one thing should remain taboo: the sale of weapons. Russia has already sold Iran S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems. Now it's negotiating the delivery of T-90 tanks and Su-30 fighter jets. If we don't want to end up completely cynical we shouldn't behave like Vladimir Putin." (18/01/2016)

El País - Spain

A chance in the fight against terror

The comprehensive lifting of sanctions against Iran is excellent news, writes the centre-left daily El País: "Considering the violent panorama in the region one could easily accuse US President Barack Obama of naivety when he declares that today the US, the Middle East and the world are safer places than they were. But the leader of the country which official Iranian rhetoric calls the 'great Satan' is right. … Iran is not just a historical regional power but could also be a major agent in the strategic fight against jihadism. Its isolation complicated that strategy and also created ever-growing rifts with other major Arab powers. It is crucial that all parties take part in certain security and cooperation forums; the reincorporation of Iran will without doubt lead to greater understanding." (18/01/2016)

Il Giornale - Italy

Lift sanctions against Russia now

Europe should now make the case for lifting the sanctions against Russia demands the national conservative daily Il Giornale: "The Europeans have followed all the whims of the Americans. Even when they continued the Cold War against Russia with threats from Nato and condemnations in the form of sanctions because of Russia's Crimea policy. … Meanwhile the Americans failed to see the Islamist threat and instead continued their battle against those who are in fact their most natural allies. What can we Europeans, including individual citizens, do against this? We can try to dispel the climate of distrust vis-à-vis Russia. The Cold War must be ended and the sanctions must be lifted. We must help Russian and Ukraine to agree on a constitution that guarantees autonomy for both sides. We must campaign for peace between America, Russia and Europe." (17/01/2016)

POLITICS

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Dagens Nyheter - Sweden

Poland reawakening demons of the past

In their reaction to EU criticism Poland's politicians have set their sights on Germany. Among other things Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro has insinuated that with his choice of words EU Media Commissioner Günther Oettinger brought to mind the Nazi era. Relations between Poland and Germany are a source of concern, the liberal daily Dagens Nyheter comments: "The Polish government knows its history perfectly well, but it's acting as if it were historically ignorant. Those who fan anti-German sentiment risk awakening the demons of history and destroying decades of trust building. ... It's completely normal that as Poland's most important neighbour, Germany is reacting to a development that could also have consequences for European security cooperation. What's astonishing is that many other EU countries have taken so long to react." (17/01/2016)

Novi list - Croatia

EU punishing Croatia for humane refugee policy

At the start of this week Austria and Slovenia announced plans to step up measures to turn back refugees who stand little chance of remaining in Europe at the Slovenian-Croatian border. This may mean Croatia unfairly becomes the country where refugees collect, the centre-left daily Novi List believes: "While all of Europe, above all the former communist countries, has been erecting fences and razor wire to defend themselves against the tide of refugees, collectively labelling war victims as terrorists and rapists, and on top of that now stripping them of their valuables to finance the costs they incur, there have been no such abominations in Croatia. The main reason for that lies with many Croatians' own experience as refugees. Croatia has shown a sense of humanity on behalf of the entire European Union, something the refugees themselves have continuously stressed. But these efforts have not been recognised by the EU, let alone by our European neighbours." (18/01/2016)

La Repubblica - Italy

Renzi's tactical battle with Brussels

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker vehemently rejected criticism from Rome of the budgetary targets for EU member states on Friday, prompting Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to call for more respect for his country. Renzi is trying to score points with Italian voters, the centre-left daily La Repubblica observes: "Our prime minister is beating the election campaign drum. … This wave of nationalism is aimed at public opinion. Italy, like almost all other EU countries, is seeing its citizens grow increasingly indifferent vis-à-vis the politicians. The proportion of non-voters and voters who are against Europe and the euro now stands at 67 percent. … With this new surge of nationalism the likes of which we haven't seen since Mussolini's times, Renzi is trying to rouse the indifferent citizens into action and take the wind out of the sails of the anti-EU forces. And he might just pull it off, too." (17/01/2016)

Financial Times - United Kingdom

Germany's biggest problems are homemade

The three main topics in the last three months in Germany - the VW scandal, the global economic downturn and the refugee crisis - have only become real problems because of misguided domestic policy decisions, the conservative daily Financial Times comments: "This is going to be a difficult year for Germany, one in which the policies of the past may turn out to be unsustainable. ... While most of the threats appear to be external, they are caused by domestic policy choices. Germany does not have to rely on a single industry to such an extreme degree. And no country finds itself with an 8 per cent current account surplus by accident. Nor did Ms Merkel need to open up further a border that was already open by making so public a pronouncement. She made a choice." (17/01/2016)

REFLECTIONS

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Le Monde - France

Emmanuel Droit hopes Merkel will remain the "Anti-Le-Pen"

In response to the refugee policy defended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the president of the far-right Front National Marine Le Pen styled herself at the start of October as an "Anti-Merkel". Historian Emmanuel Droit hopes in the centre-left daily Le Monde that the chancellor will remain an "Anti-Le-Pen": "At the start of 2016 Angela Merkel and Marine Le Pen continue to symbolise two political projects for Europe. With their political actions, their rhetoric and different attitudes they illustrate an unprecedented dividing line between a post-national, open Germany on the one hand and a nationalist France that is increasingly tempted to seal itself off from the rest of the world on the other. Rather than capitulating in the face of fear and far-right populism, Angela Merkel must stand her ground. The attacks in Cologne must not allow emotions to win out over sound policy. Germany must not abandon its culture of welcoming or join France on the path of fear. ... But Germany can't do everything on its own. It needs a certain type of France at its side, a generous and tolerant Marianne with whom it can work together to bring about a European integration policy. (15/01/2016)

Kathimerini - Greece

Alexis Papachelas on the Greeks' worst character traits

Columnist Alexis Papachelas reflects on similarities and differences between Greece and other Balkan countries in the English version of the conservative daily Kathimerini: "Every time I visit a Balkan country I think how fortunate we are. A journey across any provincial Greek road is not that different from driving along a Balkan one. We could very well be living in a typically Balkan country. … Despite it all, I sometimes feel that a strong force is pulling us towards what I would call our 'bad, Balkan self'. Our disrespect for institutions, our need to feel we're always the victim, our love for conspiracy, aesthetic disorder and sometimes sheer ugliness, are all surely part of our character. … Fortunately, we are light years away from Kosovo, Skopje, Albania and Bulgaria. But there is a difference. They know what they want to achieve and are giving it their all in order to achieve their targets, demonstrating strength and courage along the way. They want to become Europeans and reach our level. What is our goal as a nation?" (17/01/2016)

ECONOMY

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Newsweek Polska - Poland

S&P downgrade bad news for Poland

US rating agency Standard & Poor's lowered Poland's credit rating on Friday saying that the government's recent reforms had weakened the independence of state institutions. The liberal Newsweek magazine warns Warsaw not to downplay the significance of the downgrade: "[Standard & Poor's] was the first agency to downgrade the US [in 2011]. And to this day it has kept that rating. And the Fed as well as others simply laughed back then. Like our Finance Ministry now, they claimed it was a mistake. But after a certain amount of time the other agencies are likely to follow suit. The lower credit rating of the US is still having a major impact on its economy. Denying reality doesn't help. Poland has lost the trust of the capital markets for the first time since democracy was reintroduced." (18/01/2016)

Äripäev - Estonia

Shale oil industry needs to be made resilient

The Estonian oil shale processing company VKG announced the dismissal of 500 employees on Friday, saying that the measure was the result of the low oil prices. The business daily Äripäev proposes coupling the raw materials tax the oil shale sector pays to oil prices in a bid to help the flailing industry: "With this step the state would make it possible for the companies to save money in difficult times without the state having to dispense with tax revenues when oil prices go up once more. If you look at Estonia's gross national product VKG makes a significant contribution, not to mention the important role the company plays in the Ida-Virumaa region. So there has to be a solution both at the state and local level. At a time when the rest of the world is switching to renewable energy sources Estonia must start thinking about how the shale oil industry can be developed in a way that makes it profitable but also environmentally friendly." (18/01/2016)

SOCIETY

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The Irish Independent - Ireland

Ridiculous contortions after Cologne attacks

Politicians simply don't want to accept the reality of what happened on New Year's Eve in Germany, columnist Ian O'Doherty writes in the conservative daily The Irish Independent: "Sooner or later, liberals were going to have to make a choice between which group was more protected - women, gays or Islam. We now know they chose Islam. What other group would have politicians doing such ridiculous cart wheels to avoid confronting the ugly truth? Mass male sexual violence against women is so prevalent in North African cultures that it even has its own name, 'taharrush'. So why were people surprised it happened? More pertinently, why did the very people who so love to condemn male violence remain so silent for so long about this latest outrage?" (17/01/2016)

Neatkarīgā - Latvia

Dangerous trivialisation of sexual violence

The attacks in Cologne are being played down as a cultural trait for reasons of political correctness, the national conservative daily Neatkarīgā rails: "Even serious experts are now talking about rape as part of a cultural identity. A white rapist is a brutal attacker, but for a poor war refugee it's part of his culture, an exotic game known as Taharrush. Are we just going to sit back and watch these boys play while punishing others whose culture doesn't include such games with prison or chemical castration? A conspiracy of silence with which many people in Germany - the media included - have tried to hide the refugees' barbaric behaviour has now fallen apart like a rotten log. ... What do the politicians who are responsible for this chaos think? Their attempts to hush up the information in the media due to political correctness pose a threat not only to society but also to themselves." (16/01/2016)

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