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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 10/02/2009



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Eluana Englaro is dead

Eluana Englaro is dead


After more than 16 years in a persistent vegetative state, 38-year-old Eluana Englaro has died in the "La Quiete" clinic in the northern Italian city of Udine after doctors removed her feeding tubes. The European press discusses the political intrigues surrounding her death. » more

With articles from the following publications:
El País - Spain, Dnevnik - Slovenia, The Times - United Kingdom, Die Tageszeitung taz - Germany, La Repubblica - Italy, Corriere della Sera - Italy

El País - Spain

Following the death of coma patient Eluana Englaro the daily El País criticises the conduct of Italian head of government Silvio Berlusconi: "Eluana's will as regards how she wanted to live and die was apparent. It was also [clear] how to comply with it legally. It was the duty of a democratic government to respect that will and the law that protects it. But Berlusconi acted without caring about the enormous damage he caused the institutions in doing so: He tried to force the head of state to sign an unconstitutional decree. He challenged and de-legitimised the supreme court. And he forced the parliament to pass a law within a few hours that served only his own interests: [namely] the satisfaction of his political ambition, which tallies with the wish of the Vatican, to dominate moral standards." (10/02/2009)

Dnevnik - Slovenia

In the daily Dnevnik Tanja Lesničar-Pučko criticises the attempts by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to keep coma patient Eluana Englaro alive: "The absolute ruler who asserts the right to decide everything; who turns the state into a caricature where the mafia kills like never before: who glorifies fascism, … suddenly becomes as sensitive as a mimosa. Of course it's clear where this sensitivity comes from, which state within the state is behind this, and why the whole affair has become a political farce: because of the disregard of the court ruling, the trial of strength with President [Giorgio] Napolitano and the threat to dismiss him. In political battle and the calls for changes to the constitution and dictatorial powers any perversity is allowed. … Eluana's family obviously could no longer bear the pain, and while Berlusconi talks of how she could still have children he doesn't know what a person who has spent 17 years in a coma looks like, nor does he know how her parents have suffered all those years." (10/02/2009)

The Times - United Kingdom

The Times sees three controversial points in the case of coma patient Eluana Englaro: "The first is the question of mercy killing. In Italy, as elsewhere in Europe, euthanasia is illegal, although patients have the right to refuse care. ... The second question was the constitutional balance of power. It is extremely rare for the head of state to refuse to sign a decree. ... The third issue was the appropriate influence of the Roman Catholic Church. The intervention of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, a senior Vatican cleric, and his criticism of President [Giorgio] Napolitano, had widespread support among Italian Catholics. But it has caused a furious backlash that threatens to undermine the basis of the 1929 Concordat, under which the Vatican is a separate country with no political power in Italy. ... [Berlusconi] may find, however, ... that political intervention in matters of life and death often ends sadly, with everyone unhappy at the outcome." (10/02/2009)

Die Tageszeitung taz - Germany

Italy's courts decided recently that Eluana Englaro may be allowed to die after spending almost 17 years in a vegetative state. However Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Pope Benedict XVI refused to accept the ruling, earning the criticism of the left-leaning daily die tageszeitung: "Even on matters far removed from ethics, Berlusconi has always demonstrated that in his view laws are there for one thing only: to be 'adapted'. ... Now he is furthering this goal more or less in the service of the Catholic Church. The Church can be happy to have such a willing advocate in Italy's government, one who does not hesitate to declare the Vatican's 'natural law' - the opposition to any form of assisted suicide - the sole standard. In this way the two men are letting the Englaro family feel the full weight of their authority. ... All of this has less to do with an ethical debate on euthanasia than with a church's pre-democratic claim to absolutism and its henchman, the state. This Roman alliance could not be more unholy." (10/02/2009)

La Repubblica - Italy

According to Ezio Mauro, chief editor of the left-liberal daily La Repubblica, the end of coma patient Eluana Englaro's life is the beginning of a long ordeal for Italy. He criticises Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for undermining the constitution with his intervention: "It is pathetic to abuse death for political ends. It is a disgrace to have dragged the president [Giorgio Napolitano] onto the terrain of life and death because he fulfilled his duty as guardian of the constitution. It is humiliating to have to witness the decline of our politics. It is disturbing to have to discover the true soul of the Right, cruel and savage in its craving for absolute power, ignoring all sense of state, disrespectful of the institutions, with the exception of parliamentary president Gianfranco Fini, who made a point of distancing himself from the whole affair. With the instrumentalisation of a national and family tragedy, with the dark echo of those who would turn death into politics, the most dangerous phase for the fate of the republic in Italy's recent history began yesterday." (10/02/2009)

Corriere della Sera - Italy

Claudio Magris writes in the liberal conservative daily Corriere della Sera on the death of coma patient Eluana Englaro: "The problem of the last will remains unsolved, the so-called biological testament, the advance directive. In Eluana Englaro's case her family decided on the basis of common sense. ... Although precarious, this remains the sole course open in such a case. Straying from it means slipping into ideological abstractions or an all-embracing concept of assisted suicide that purports to stipulate how we should live and whether or not we may die. What remains are the wounds left by the death of the loved one, and the wounds left on the entire country and our quality of life by the ignoble attacks on the fundamental principles of the state in Eluana's name. Not only individuals but also an entire country can be forced to write a testament." (10/02/2009)


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The Guardian - United Kingdom

Elections in Israel

On the occasion of today's elections in Israel, The Guardian comments on the situation in which the country now finds itself: "It is a cliche of Israeli politics that the left provides the best defence ministers and the right furnishes the leaders who make the greatest territorial concessions. But in these times, just to have a leader worthy of the name would be a start. This contest reflects the fear and insecurity of a nation which derives ever less confidence from the wars it fights. Being the strongest kid on the block is not in itself enough to guarantee security in this neighbourhood. ... If the alternatives are a government led by Ms Livni or one headed by Mr Netanyahu, American, Arab and European leaders should all be rooting privately and without much enthusiasm for the head of Kadima, despite the grievous loss of civilian life in Gaza." (10/02/2009)

La Vanguardia - Spain

ETA only has itself to blame for the ban

Spain's top court yesterday paved the way for two parties with close ties to the terrorist organisation ETA to be banned from standing in the Basque country's upcoming parliamentary elections. The Spanish daily La Vanguardia says ETA itself is to blame: "ETA's need to be present in the elections 'at any cost' – as formulated in its communiqués - has been denied. But it was the group itself that pushed its milieu into the corner of loneliness and non-representation. It is naturally unfortunate that in a democracy a section of society will not be represented, but it is much worse that certain MPs are controlled by those who have guns in their hands. … ETA relies on the bomb, as it once again proved with an attack in Madrid. … It therefore only has itself to blame." (10/02/2009)

Delo - Slovenia

Haider's legacy in Carinthia

Regional elections will take place in the southernmost Austrian state of Carinthia on 1 March. The daily Delo wonders if the legends surrounding the late governor Jörg Haider will still suffice to assure his party a new victory. "Haider's political heirs know that he was an idol among average Austrians and that he remains a sort of saintly figure even today, someone who was close to the people. For this reason they even forgave him his mistakes, for example drinking in a gay bar shortly before he died and driving while drunk. But will voters bear in mind in these elections that Carinthia is one of the poorest states in Austria, with high unemployment by national standards, and that the state's former pride, the bank Hypo Alpe Adria, is tottering? Regardless of the election results, Carinthians are now slowly starting to assess Haider's legacy with an objective eye." (10/02/2009)

Dnevnik - Bulgaria

The Bulgarian police and leaked information

In Bulgaria police officers or those who work with the legal authorities often inform people beforehand that a police raid is to take place. The daily Dnevnik comments: "This is precisely what happened when Slatomir Ivanov-Baretata [a mafia drug baron and murder suspect] was arrested: A few days before the public prosecutor's office announced that he was under investigation Baretata himself predicted in the daily Trud that he would be arrested and his house searched. Information flows freely because of the corruption in the interior ministry and the public prosecutor's office … . Everyone knows that the leaked information will mean that ultimately only a small amount of evidence will be gathered for use in court. This in turn will influence the outcome of the trial. Thus the expectations in society and Brussels that there will be convictions remain naively optimistic." (10/02/2009)


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De Volkskrant - Netherlands

Kader Abdolah on 30 years of revolution in Iran

Thirty years ago Iran was rocked by an Islamic revolution. Iranian-born writer Kader Abdolah experienced the revolution first-hand, and looks back on the events in the left-liberal daily De Volkskrant: "Regrets? Never. For all of us it was the most awe-inspiring event of our time. And for me it became the fundament on which I constructed my life. Today, 30 years later, I am certain of one thing: The rise of the Ayatollahs was unavoidable. ... The Shah of Persia intentionally sought to keep us ignorant. He was America's puppet king. During his 35 year rule we never knew what democracy was. He never explained the importance of freedom of opinion. What is over is over. What remains is the regime of the clergy, and they are not about to leave. In the last 30 years they have erected a labyrinth of power that even nuclear bombs cannot destroy. Thirty years have past, and I must now be more reasonable. I must thrust aside my personal abhorrence for this regime. We must not view Iran as a false and dangerous country. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad represents a very conservative wing. But there are also other imams who adopt a more liberal path in today's Islamic regime. Mohammad Khatami is one example. He will run against Ahmadinejad in the elections. Iran has become an important, stable power in the Middle East. This fact cannot be denied." (10/02/2009)

Der Spiegel - Germany

Gerhard Schröder on the future of German troops in Afghanistan

In the opinion of former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder withdrawing Germany's troops from Afghanistan now would be irresponsible. In an essay for the news magazine Der Spiegel he stresses the importance of Germany's mission: "It means that we cannot, as a single nation, immediately withdraw from Afghanistan – this would be tantamount to turning our back on our international responsibility … . Such a withdrawal would only strengthen the Taliban and in the worst case give it control over the entire country. This would be a blow for Afghan society and a great threat to international security. Nor should we forget the successes of the past few years in reconstructing Afghanistan: 85 percent of the population now has access to health services, six million children are attending school once more – two million of them girls. Roads, wells and sewers are being built. People have been able to freely elect their country's leadership. These are successes which form a basis for the further construction of a free and sovereign Afghanistan. But we also know: without peace there can be no progress. Civilian progress is the worst enemy of the Taliban, and this is why they fight it. Military support for the development measures therefore remains indispensable. … I take the view that the operations of the German armed forces can be ended within the next ten years." (09/02/2009)


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Právo - Czech Republic

Prague sets the wrong priorities

The Czech Republic, which currently holds the EU Council presidency, has announced a special summit meeting on the economic crisis and against protectionism. Prague also continues to adopt a critical stance regarding the position of President Nicolas Sarkozy to protect French car makers. The left-leaning daily Právo calls the government to order: "Good policy does not solve such issues with public statements, but behind the scenes. If the Czech Republic continues its disputes with France it will only harm itself, because they give the impression that it cannot cooperate with the other partners in the Union. ... Sarkozy has been admonished by the EU Commission. Prague should leave it at that and put its energy into finding solutions to the crisis. That is more important than verbal triumphs over Sarkozy." (10/02/2009)

TV3 - Lithuania

Lithuania without an airline?

The news portal Balsas criticises the government for having spent millions on PR for Lithuania while allowing the national airline flyLAL to go bankrupt at the beginning of Vilnius' year as European Capital of Culture: "The situation is certainly absurd because they're promoting a country that is unreachable: Lithuania, the country where no airplanes fly. … Yet Lithuania is not just supposed to attract tourists, but also investors. Perhaps it's a typical Lithuanian trait to destroy something and then mourn over the broken pieces. Thus the government recently struck a number of events from the 'Vilnius – European Capital of Culture' programme only to suddenly decide it was necessary to make Lithuania a more widely known name. But as far as flyLAL is concerned it has really demonstrated total incompetence." (10/02/2009)

Gândul - Romania

Romania's agricultural sector not competitive

The daily Gândul comments on calls by President Traian Băsescu for Romanians to buy more domestic products: "Romania has a huge agricultural potential and people say it could even feed most of Europe's population. This may be the case, but so far it hasn't even managed to feed the 22 million Romanians. With a patchwork of two or three hectares of land farmers can just about feed their own families. The canister of diesel and sack of fertiliser politicians use as an incentive for farmers won't suffice to bring about the shift from a subsistence to a trading economy. The funding that is currently invested in agricultural production structures only sustains the status quo, or in other words the terrible poverty in villages. … But the delay in structural reform measures has a clear goal: the poorer the farmers are, the easier it is to manipulate them." (10/02/2009)


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Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland

Stauffenberg and Hosenfeld

The writer Leopold Unger writes in the Gazeta Wyborcza on the posthumous fates of Claus von Stauffenberg, the ringleader of the plot to assassinate Hitler, and Wilm Hosenfeld, a German officer from a Catholic background. During World War II Hosenfeld saved the lives of several hundred Jews and Poles. "Both Germans have their place in history. But they are now returning almost simultaneously into the public eye, if admittedly in very different ways. Stauffenberg on the silver screen [in the film 'Valkyrie'] and Hosenfeld on the wall of the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashedm in Jerusalem. ... But one important aspect distinguishes the two. Stauffenberg believed in the superiority of the German race, ... while Hosenfeld helped save the life of a Polish Jew [the musician Władysław Szpilman]." (10/02/2009)

Kathimerini - Greece

The stage as a setting for the revolution

Protestors occupied the building of the Greek National Opera for nine days in the aftermath of the December riots. After the occupation ended last Saturday the daily I Kathimerini writes about its purpose: "We will never find out who exactly occupied the National Opera. … Some of them were artists and others came directly from the December riots. … The enforced turning of the stage into an alternative … venue for film screenings, open meetings, martial arts courses and a 'subversive ballet' performance in Academia Street [in central Athens] has an air of revolutionary romantic about it. … [But] what kind of a democracy is that of the so-called free poets that prevents their [actor] colleagues [through the occupation] from attending their rehearsals?" (10/02/2009)


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Magyar Nemzet - Hungary

Public security must be defended

The conservative daily Magyar Nemzet suspects that a notorious Roma gang is behind the brutal killing of a famous handball player and the severe wounding of two others, and argues for a more rigorous policy of law and order in the country: "Crisis has also hit Hungary's public security. There are communities and city districts in the country where life has become simply unbearable in view of the daily crimes committed by 'Gypsy gangs'. People's souls are eaten by fear. It wouldn't be at all surprising if the xenophobia directed at the Roma increased among those who feel abandoned by the state, from which they receive nothing but high-handed lessons in tolerance. ... Order and public security must be strengthened immediately. The number of law enforcement officers and police stations must be increased on the one hand, and criminal law must be tightened on the other." (10/02/2009)

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