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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 15/02/2011

 

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Europe leaves Italy in the lurch

 

The EU has refuted Italy's claim that it is not doing enough to help the country deal with the 5,000 Tunisian refugees who have made their way to the island of Lampedusa. Commentators complain that the EU generally provides too little support for the host countries of the south, and demand a common migration policy for Europe.

Der Standard - Austria

More solidarity with the South

The EU must show solidarity with the Southern European countries where the refugees are landing, writes the left-liberal daily Der Standard with an eye to the arrival of thousands of Tunisian refugees on the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa: "The flood of refugees from Tunisia across the Mediterranean shows that people's desire for freedom is not limited to their home country, but also points them in the direction of Europe. Like Spain and Greece, Rome has rightly complained for years that the other EU states are leaving them in the lurch regarding the refugees. It's now more pressing than ever that we should all share this burden together. Because up to now the states on Europe's southern border have been hit far harder than the rest, all because of their geographical position about which they can do nothing. That is a case for European solidarity. The question of what to offer these states is also more urgent than ever. The EU's former Neighbourhood Policy or the Mediterranean Union were thought up as placebos, replacements for membership - in full knowledge that these states don't fulfil the key accession criteria." (15/02/2011)

La Stampa - Italy

EU lacks common migration policy

German chancellor Angela Merkel has refused to take in the Tunisian refugees who landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa. This highlights the EU's lack of a common immigration policy, the liberal daily La Stampa complains: "Europe's immigration policy exists on paper. Just as the Frontex agency exists, which has the task of coordinating the nation states in joint missions for controlling the EU's outer borders. But the European decision mechanisms are slow. What is supposed to pass as its common policy in reality is no more that a framework of general principles meant to guide the individual states. ... This precedence of individual states over common institutions is not just typical in foreign policy and internal security. In recent years the European Council of Ministers, where the individual member states are represented, as well as the parliament in Strasbourg have gained influence while the European Commission is losing it rapidly." (15/02/2011)

Bild - Germany

Help for North Africa needed

Commenting on the flood of Tunisian refugees on the Italian island Lampedusa, the tabloid Bild calls on the West to provide financial support for the countries of North Africa: "Today's tumbling despots will certainly be followed by others, and that puts the onus of responsibility on the West. We must help the refugees. This is not only our humanitarian duty, it is essential to maintain stability in these regions. Certainly, providing help on location will cost money. But every euro that we scrimp today will multiply when the problems come our way one day. The world has grown too small for us to avert our eyes and cower away at home, far removed from the goings on outside." (15/02/2011)

POLITICS

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Le Quotidien - Luxembourg

Irresponsible silence on Algeria

Around 30,000 police officers were deployed on the weekend in the Algerian capital of Algiers to quell a demonstration of just 2,000 people protesting against the regime of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Yet the world looked on in silence, the daily Le Quotidien remonstrates: "Not a word. Where were the grand leaders of the international community on Saturday, when the Algerian authorities were busy quashing a cautious protest march in the streets of Algiers? It's enough to make you think no one's learned their lesson. Everyone misjudged the strength of the democratic currents that swept aside the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt. And now it's happening all over again. ... The last month has rewritten the rules of diplomatic clientelism. Regardless of whether we're dealing with an oil-producing country, an Islamist threat or economic interests, the international community must now bring its influence to bear. And since it has the power to do so, its silence only weighs all the more heavily." (14/02/2011)

Večer - Slovenia

Arab revolution threatens oil states

If the Arab revolutions reach the oil-producing states in the Middle East the repercussions will be felt all over the world, writes the daily Večer: "No one dares to predict how far the revolutionary flames will spread, but they are already menacing several oil-rich countries. If the oil starts to burn, the entire world will be roused in the effort to put it out. ... The flight of Tunisia's President Ben Ali would have remained just another bit of African folklore, but the involuntary departure of the 'last Egyptian pharao' Hosni Mubarak has reshuffled the geo-political cards. The uprising in Egypt, which has nothing to offer the world aside from the Suez Canal, the pyramids and the world's largest Arab population, has already shaken the oil markets to their foundations. It is a clear warning that the revolution of the young demonstrators from relatively poor North Africa could spread to the oil-rich Middle East." (15/02/2011)

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

Women sick of Berlusconi

More than 100,000 women took to the streets in Italian cities across the country to demonstrate against Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. His star is on the wane, the liberal-conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung concludes: "The demonstrators, including many men who joined the protests, demanded the immediate resignation of Prime Minister Berlusconi. ... Representatives of the government, like Education Minister Gelmini, tried to write off the demonstration as a 'radical chic' event. The leader of the Partito Democratico, Anna Finocchiaro, retorted that the demonstrations of the people and citizens on Sunday were real. Indeed, according to the most recent opinion polls Berlusconi's popularity appears to have taken a beating while the demonstrations of the government against the judges failed to draw much interest." (14/02/2011)

Hospodárske noviny - Slovakia

Visegrád group still makes sense

The Visegrád alliance is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its founding today in Bratislava. The alliance was initially created with the objective of jointly preparing Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia's EU accession. But it still has its raison d'être in the eyes of business paper Hospodářské noviny: "The Visegrád group is a 'soft power' in central Europe, attracting outsiders and bringing advantages for its four members. Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia may not always pursue the same interests but the regional cooperation within the EU pays off. It has helped them to join the Schengen agreement, put together the climate package and promote the Eastern Partnership. Not without good reason did Poland's ex-president Aleksander Kwaśniewski once say the Visegrád Four remain a kind of political guarantee in case the EU ever splits up into more or less integrated member states." (15/02/2011)

REFLECTIONS

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Svobodata - Bulgaria

Vesselin Kadimirov sees Bulgaria in mafia's grip

Since the fall of communism in 1989 Bulgarian society has refrained from calling the communist elite and its collaborators to account for the sake of preserving peace. This has allowed the rise of an extremely powerful mafia which poses a threat to society as a whole, blogger Vesselin Kadimirov writes on opinion portal Svobodata: "Recently all observers have reached the same conclusion: Bulgaria is changing from a state with its own mafia into a mafia with its own state. ... The executive and legislative have turned into a lucrative monopolist business. The judiciary is independent only to the extent that no one can force it to condemn someone who pays well. The borderline between police and organised crime has become blurred - gangsters work for the secret services and ministers pass on business deals among gangsters. … The mafia wants to regain control of its state. Therefore I believe the time has come for society to renege on its part of the deal. ... Twenty years of impunity is a high enough price for peaceful transformation." (14/02/2011)

ECONOMY

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La Repubblica - Italy

German-style bailout fund

The finance ministers of the Eurozone countries on Monday agreed to endow the planned European Stability Mechanism (ESM) with 500 billion euros as of 2013. As far as the left-liberal daily La Repubblica is concerned this represents a minimal raise for the fund hardly worth mentioning, which is exactly what Germany wanted: "The decision seems to be a new victory for the harsh course pushed by Germany. In recent weeks and months, several European government representatives had called for the fund to be raised considerably, with Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reyners going as far as to propose a trillion euros. But Berlin has stubbornly resisted all steps to raise guarantees for less disciplined countries, arguing that distributing the burden of European debt equally could lower the incentive to consolidate their budgets." (15/02/2011)

Világgazdaság - Hungary

Hungary's haphazard economic policy

Hungary's right-wing conservative head of government Viktor Orbán has announced major economic reforms for his country, but the execution of those reforms has taken place in a very improvised fashion, the business paper Világgazdaság comments: "The Orbán government has deviated several times from the traditional solutions. There's its refusal to cut expenditure, its dismantling of the private pension funds and the partial nationalisation of the money in those funds. Not to mention the introduction of special taxes. All this can naturally be presented as a deliberate strategy and the Hungarian way of doing things - after all, the havoc caused by the economic crisis has spawned all kinds of experiments in other parts of the world. But it seems much more likely that the Orbán government's steps in economic policy are the result of more or less improvised decisions. ... The prime minister's grand economic policy principles should be taken with a pinch of salt, also because there are still no concrete plans behind them. Pretty words can't substitute for proper economic policy." (15/02/2011)

CULTURE

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El Correo - Spain

Spain's film world parties despite crisis

The Goya film prizes were awarded in Madrid on Sunday. The glamour of the event, which is the Spanish equivalent of the Oscars, stood in stark contrast to the dreary reality of the sector, notes the Basque daily El Correo: "The 25th edition of the Goya Prizes will go down in history for its contrasts, the first of which is the glaring difference between the festive and entertaining mood at the gala, with its high viewer ratings (25.4 percent, or 4.3 million viewers) and the disastrous performance of Spanish cinema as a whole in 2010. The more than 30 percent decline in revenues, the loss of around seven million movie-goers and the fact that not a single national production was among the ten most watched films at Spanish cinemas ... failed to provoke any self-critical reflection whatsoever either before or during the gala, or any attempts from the world of cinema to present political or economic solutions." (15/02/2011)

SOCIETY

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Rzeczpospolita - Poland

Multiculturalism a failure

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday followed the example of other political leaders on Friday by expressing the view on French television that multicultural society has failed. Now all those in Europe who have defended the idea must admit it doesn't work, writes the conservative daily Rzeczpospolita: "Sarkozy has sided with Angela Merkel and Prime Minister David Cameron, who were even quicker to predict an end to Western society's naive belief in the myth of multiculturalism. Now when they demand respect for their own cultures, migrants must also show respect for the cultures of the countries they live in. The heads of state and government of France, Germany and the UK have expressed what many people feel who are definitely anything but xenophobes." (15/02/2011)

Lietuvos rytas - Lithuania

Lithuania needs more sex education

Conservatives in Lithuania have criticised Unesco's brochure International technical guidance on sexuality education.The daily Lietuvos Rytas defends the publication against accusations that it encourages sex among the young, and calls for improved sex education: "If we don't speak openly about relations between the sexes, how will boys and girls learn to understand each other later on? Today most Lithuanian families are unable to address such issues. But where dogmas and stereotypes are the rule, taboos are not far behind. And these prevent the emergence of stable families. ... Clearly the correct thing to do is step up sexual education. Far from having unwanted side effects, this will prevent our youths from being riddled with complexes that prevent them from establishing equality-based relationships or well-balanced families as adults." (15/02/2011)

MEDIA

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De Morgen - Belgium

Belgium divided by emotions

A critical report by the Walloon television station RTBF on the funeral of the Flemish nationalist politician Marie-Rose Morel has sparked a wave of indignation in Flanders. In its report the station recalled Morel's racist views. Johanne Montay, head of RTBF's political desk, rebuffs criticism in the daily De Morgen: "The young woman's courage and suffering has divided our country along emotional lines. The North expresses pity and empathy while the South displays a certain lack of understanding for how her suffering has raised her to the level of a star. ... The affair says much about the situation of our media. Our weakness isn't a lack of respect, but a lack of understanding. If the media fail to critically assess the impact they have in their own community, we may be faced with a journalism focused solely on forming identity. ... The problem isn't that our media are divided into camps, but that we all lack a critical view of our own community. A county where criticism of feelings of identity is no longer tolerated is really in danger." (15/02/2011)

SPORT

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Les Echos - France

Suffocating stadium costs in France

France will host the 2016 UEFA European Football Championship, for which several new stadia are planned. The business paper Les Echos worries that smaller cities could be suffocated by the construction costs: "How to ensure the profitability of these huge sites? ... People say their cost-efficiency is guaranteed because they're not just stadiums, but urban projects combining apartments, shopping centres and entertainment facilities with sporting and cultural events. This recipe already works in England, Germany and the US, the promoters say. The idea is certainly seductive, but it's not as easy to put into practice as all that. Just because you can attract large audiences in big cities doesn't mean you can do the same in mid-sized towns. For them the financial burden of such projects could soon become unbearable." (15/02/2011)

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