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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 26/04/2010

 

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Viktor Orbán has free rein to rule

 

The centre-right conservative Fidesz party achieved a two-thirds majority in the second round of Hungary's parliamentary elections on Sunday. While some commentators say that with his absolute majority future premier Viktor Orbán will do the country harm, others say he should first be given a chance.

Die Presse - Austria

Don't worry about Viktor Orbán

Many fear the future Hungarian prime minister because of his harsh slogans, but we should wait to see what he actually does with his two-thirds majority, writes the daily Die Presse: "The man is extremely ambitious, stubborn, tough and hyper-patriotic. ... Anyone who has ever met him also knows he can be very bright, tactically brilliant and extremely convincing - a politician through and through, the type you don't find too often nowadays. No, we needn't fear Viktor Orbán. We should wait and see what he does with his absolute parliamentary majority and whether he really wants to provoke his nervous neighbours. Then we can judge him. There are many indications that Orbán can handle the right-wing extremist spectre that has been haunting Hungary better than the socialist governments ever managed to do. Then I'm willing to bet that the 'Be afraid' slogans will be completely forgotten." (26/04/2010)

Népszabadság - Hungary

Absolute rulers wind up at a dead end

Viktor Orbán now possesses numerous instruments to cement his grip on power and has left no doubt that he intends to use them - even to the detriment of Hungary, writes the left-liberal daily Népszabadság: "Orbán no doubt also knows that cement can crack. But it would be an illusion to believe that Orbán and his party will wield their power with discipline and moderation. After all, the voters made no demands for a division of power in the elections. ... If Orbán doesn't manage to quickly satisfy the desires and demands of the majority of voters whose backing he now has, sooner or later his aura will start to show major cracks too. ... If Orbán focuses his energies mainly on ideologically-based policies Hungary won't find itself on the 'highway of history', as he promised during the election campaign, but in a dusty cul-de-sac." (26/04/2010)

Sme - Slovakia

Joining hands against the extreme right

After the second round of parliamentary elections Viktor Orbán's Fidesz party can now rule the country with the two-thirds majority necessary to amend the constitution. The Hungarian writer György Konrád writes in a commentary for the liberal daily Sme that regardless of its strong showing Fidesz will now feel pressure from the extreme-right Jobbik party: "The Socialists are no danger for Orbán, but the neo-Nazis are. These are the younger siblings of those represented by Fidesz twenty years ago. Political radicalism acts like a boomerang. It's not to be discounted that in the end we'll be lending our support to Fidesz in the fight against its extreme-right rivals, like the French Left once did against Jean-Marie Le Pen's Front National. Who knows who we'll have to join hands with. The situation is anything but funny." (26/04/2010)

POLITICS

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Le Temps - Switzerland

Turks commemorate genocide for the first time

Several hundred Turks followed a call by 70 intellectuals on Saturday, the anniversary of the Armenian genocide in 1915, and commemorated the victims. Political scientist Vicken Cheterian explains in the daily Le Temps the importance of the massacre for current politics: "Few people deny the Armenian genocide today. To prevent it being legally recognised some argue that although it was a genocide it would be politically inappropriate to displease Turkey. ... Now is not the right time, they say, 95 years after the fact. Others say the events of 1915 should be left to historians. They are wrong. The genocide of the Armenians is part and parcel of a debate over the political challenges facing us today. ... Turkey's recognition of the Armenian genocide would mean a huge step forward, and would do away with the fear and violence that characterise domestic political life in the country to this day." (26/04/2010)

Kurier - Austria

Austria's president must have vision

Austrian President Heinz Fischer has been reelected for a second term in office. Now it is time for him to move his country forward, writes the daily Kurier. "Heinz Fischer is mild-mannered, clever, ascetic, pragmatic, a president of the mind and not of the heart. His clear electoral victory is well-earned. His first term was marked neither by grand accomplishments nor by glaring mistakes. In a time when almost everything is turned into a spectacle, the unspectacular Fischer is the right corrective. At least one politician who keeps a clear head. His resounding victory is also good for the [social democratic] SPÖ, which has had to stomach many disappointments in recent times. ... What should Fischer do with this widespread show of trust? He cannot be elected a third time. That gives him an independence he should use to accomplish noble deeds. He can develop a vision for the Austria of 2016 with strength and courage. Not as a substitute monarch, but as a mastermind and a mentor - that would be the right role for a president who rises to the occasion." (25/04/2010)

Právo - Czech Republic

Nato to continue protecting Europe with nuclear weapons

At their meeting in the Estonian capital of Tallinn the Nato foreign ministers have rejected a reduction of US tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. The leftist daily Právo condones the move: "Contrary to expectations President Barack Obama's plans for nuclear disarmament have halted before the gates of Nato, at least for now. America's chief diplomat Hillary Clinton put an end to speculation in Tallinn that the US could soon unilaterally withdraw its 200 tactical nuclear weapons from Europe. Washington would have received the backing of Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium - where the nuclear arms are stationed - for the move. ... But there's more at stake than political symbolism. It is crucial that no one-sided gestures be made without a reciprocal answer on the part of Russia, which possesses many more such dangerous weapons on its European territory." (26/04/2010)

Delo - Slovenia

Russia strengthens its influence in ex-Soviet states

Russia will give Ukraine a 30 percent price reduction on natural gas supplies in future. In exchange it is to be allowed to keeps its Black Sea Fleet stationed on the Crimean Peninsula for an additional 25 years. The daily Delo sees this as a Russian strategy aimed at securing its influence in post-Soviet states: "This agreement proves that Russia is using its plentiful energy resources to boost its influence on politics in the former Soviet republics ... . There can be no doubt that Russia is prepared to pay any price for its gas imperialism. The EU and Nato are much less generous in this respect, and this is the main reason why they have been firmly rebuffed in the post-Soviet area: In Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, and also to some extent in Georgia, the revolutions supported by the West have produced disappointing results. This is why Russia is now returning with big steps to the vast expanses of the former Soviet Union." (26/04/2010)

Trouw - Netherlands

Belgian crisis harmful for Europe

Following the collapse of the governing coalition in Belgium, King Albert II has demanded speedy talks to resolve the political crisis. The daily Trouw calls on Belgians to resume their role as a model of peaceful coexistence between different language groups in the interest of both Belgium and Europe: "The idea seems to have taken hold among the Flemish and the Walloons that national unity is no longer worthwhile. A country that houses Europe's capital and will hold the EU Council presidency in the second half of this year cannot take such liberties. The dispute over language rights in Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde has gotten out of control and is damaging not only Belgium's (economic) interests but also those of Europe as a whole. ... The Belgian people would do well to make it clear to their politicians that there are more important issues than this language dispute. ... Come on, you Belgians. Show us once more what you used to be so good at - for the sake of your country and Europe." (26/04/2010)

REFLECTIONS

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Die Zeit - Germany

Roberto Saviano defends himself against Silvio Berlusconi

The Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has accused the writer and journalist Roberto Saviano of "advertising for the Mafia" with his book Gomorrah. Saviano rejects the claim in a letter to the prime minister published in the weekly paper Die Zeit: "I believe that only the truth can give a country dignity. ... One thing is certain: Like many others I will continue to write. I will use the word as a tool to dissect, to improve the world, and to understand. I was born in a wonderful albeit depraved country, whose beauty nevertheless never stops giving me the strength to dream of another Italy. An Italy that can only change when the South changes. I swear to you, Mr Prime Minister, also in the name of all Italians who mourn the loss of those who have fallen in the fight against organised crime like their own dead: we will never fall silent. That I promise you. Loud and clear." (23/04/2010)

El País - Spain

José Ignacio Torreblanca on haiku and the sinking ship of Europe

The ship of Europe has plunged into a crisis which only strong leadership and decisive action can resolve. But instead it remains passive and threatens to sink, political scientist José Ignacio Torreblanca writes in the left-liberal daily El País: "Despite the repeated warnings the Economic and Monetary Union has collided with an iceberg in the middle of the night. Because its design doesn't incorporate mechanisms to deal with crises like the present one, unless decisive measures are taken the water will flood one compartment after another. However, like the President of the European Council Van Rompuy, who ... presented his book of haiku, those adorable little Japanese poems about the ephemeral nature of life and beauty, we Europeans prefer contemplation to action. And Rompuy's haiku poems play the same role as the Titanic's orchestra, which kept on playing right until the last minute: Whether it's Belgium or the monetary union that is sinking into the sea, at least they should do so with beauty." (26/04/2010)

ECONOMY

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Financial Times - United Kingdom

Greece must reform

Greece is requesting up to 45 billion euros in financial help from the EU and the International Monetary Fund to get its budget deficit under control. The Financial Times calls for a series of political reforms: "Greeks must now show their willingness to ... end the rule-breaking, corruption and parallel economy that undermine the functions of a modern state. ... Europe as a whole must also show greater maturity. The fiction that ill-conceived and unenforced fiscal rules could do the job of reconciling political and cultural differences has been sundered, leaving behind a resurgence of old and ugly stereotypes recently indulged in by Greek and German tabloids. Some of Mr Papandreou's countrymen will see a national humiliation in the constraints of an IMF programme. But if he can convince his people of the changes needed, it may yet prove the quickest way to return to Greece the independence its profligacy has squandered." (26/04/2010)

Phileleftheros - Cyprus

Turkey's economy booms thanks to government policy

Turkey is expecting an economic boom this year. The liberal daily Phileleftheros analyses in its Sunday edition the huge progress of the Turkish economy in times of crisis: "Turkey's growth rate of six percent justifies calling it 'the China of Europe', and allows increased flexibility for the Turkish economy. ... The changes to the investment sytem introduced by Tayyip Erdoğan's government have brought in more foreign investments, and the pragmatism of the [ruling] Justice and Development Party (AKP) has contributed to overcoming bureaucratic obstacles. In this way Turkey has raised its productivity with foreign capital. At the same time its labour is cheaper than in the economies of Europe." (25/04/2010)

SOCIETY

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Latvijas Avize - Latvia

A Russian-Latvian by any other name ...

A recent report by the BBC has described the situation of the Russian minority in Latvia as positive in general. The daily Latvijas Avīze is delighted with this praise but criticises the terms used in the report: "It's absurd to speak of Latvia's 'Latvian community'. I mean you wouldn't talk about the Lithuanian community in Lithuania or the French community in France. In France the notion prevails that belonging to the nation is determined by the basic republican values and not one's ethnic origin. And these values include the national language. ... But does the term 'Russophone Latvians' even make sense in the Latvian context? And if so, is that the same thing as 'Russian-speaking' or even 'unable to speak Latvian'? ... Another drawback is the incapability or unwillingness of the so-called Latvian parties to include loyal citizens of various origins." (26/04/2010)

Jyllands-Posten - Denmark

Sharia must not become Danish law

A debate has broken out in Denmark over a proposal by three professors that parts of Islamic Sharia law should be recognised in Denmark. The liberal daily Jyllands-Posten rejects the idea: "Professor Lisbet Christoffersen believes that Danish society 'contributes to creating parallel legal systems by excluding Muslims from Danish law and reinforcing them in their own system'. With all due respect, Professor Christoffersen: on the contrary. It is precisely by recognising this primitive, pre-historic legal system as the norm in Danish law that some women would remain subject to an oppressive legal system with no political or legal legitimacy. Parallel legal systems can only be combated by holding firmly to the law that has developed in this country on the basis of statutes passed by democratically elected politicians and administered by a democratically legitimate government and independent courts beholden to respect nothing but the law and legal practice." (26/04/2010)

Corriere della Sera - Italy

Catholic Church remains dominated by the West

The case of Roger Vangheluwe, Bishop of Brugge in Belgium, has become the first case in which Pope Benedict XVI has accepted a bishop's resignation on the official grounds of child abuse. A historical turn of events that points to Church's deep roots in the Western world, writes the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera: "The Church has adopted the stance that has laboriously come to prevail in Western society without reservations. Certainly it didn't need to wait for secular society's condemnation to recognise child abuse as a terrible sin. Nevertheless the Church is now taking drastic measures because society's judegement has changed. … In this way the Roman brand of Christianity is preserving its deep connection with the civilisation in which it is firmly entrenched. The future of the West may not be a Christian one, but Christianity will continue to be shaped by the West." (26/04/2010)

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