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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 21/02/2011

 

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Arab World fights on for freedom

 

Protests against regimes are spreading in many countries of the Arab World. While the rulers in Libya and Bahrain have ordered troops to open fire on demonstrators - killing more than 200 in Libya - Morocco and Jordan have announced reforms. Europe's press calls for sanctions against the tyrants and hopes the reform movements will bring peaceful transformation.

De Telegraaf - Netherlands

Punish regimes in Libya and Bahrain

The regimes in Libya and Bahrain have given the order to open fire on demonstrators in their countries. The West must not remain silent, the conservative tabloid De Telegraaf writes: "The merciless approach in Bahrain and Libya is despicable. The bloody attempt of Gaddafi, the longest reigning Arab dictator, to quash the revolt is the most cruel repression since the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt overthrew the old guard. The free West should not look on impassively as the tyrant of Tripoli who has been branded the godfather of international terrorism exterminates the Libyans who demand democracy and freedom. A hard line must be taken with Bahrain, too. Harsh verbal criticism of the violence won't suffice and certainly won't put off Gaddafi, who has been in power for 41 years. Sanctions against the criminal rulers in Bahrain and Libya are now called for." (21/02/2011)

El País - Spain

Morocco as exemplary reformer

The wave of protests emanating from Tunisia and Egypt reached Morocco on the weekend. However both the demonstrations and the reactions on the part of the state took a much moderate course. If the Moroccan government does make its mind up to introduce genuine reforms it could serve as a role model for other regimes in the region, the left-liberal daily El País writes: "Unlike what happened in other countries in the region the demonstrators didn't call for the end of the monarchy but rather its evolution towards a constitutional system in which the powers of the king are limited and the government is elected at the ballot. ... If Mohammed VI were to initiate the democratisation of his government and lead a genuine battle against corruption his initiative would turn into an example for other countries of the region to follow. Since the Moroccans on the streets haven't told him to go but simply to correct the democratic deficits of his government Mohammed VI has an excellent opportunity to embark on a path that will avoid suffering." (21/02/2011)

Avvenire - Italy

Jordan's path gives hope

For the first time since the beginning of the protests in Jordan, King Abdullah II bin al-Hussein has called for "quick and effective" political reform. He wants to grant his subjects more say and fight corruption and cronyism. This openness could set an example for others in the region, the Catholic daily Avvenire hopes: "The Hashemite monarch Abdullah II is sitting at the top of a pyramid of 5.3 million subjects, 60 percent of whom are of Palestinian origin. He is aware of his weakness and the need for utmost vigilance, creativity and open-mindedness. ... This is why he has replaced his prime minister, allowed public gatherings without the express permission of the authorities, hinted at the possibility of a constitutional monarchy and received representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood for the first time in the royal palace and parliament. ... All this gives us to understand that Jordan is getting ready to become a highly valuable political laboratory, a kind of incubator which many will watch closely." (21/02/2011)

Le Monde - France

Iran's government trembles

The protests for better living conditions and against authoritarian regimes in large parts of the Arab World are also making the leaders in Iran jittery, writes the left-liberal daily Le Monde: "The collapse of the two old regimes in Egypt and Tunisia reverberates as a warning at least as loudly in Tehran as in many other Arab capitals, if not louder. ... The regime in Tehran wants to install a climate of terror. It is nervous, if not hysterical at the resistance it has been seeking to quash for the past two years. The Iranians of the so-called Green Movement are just as courageous as the Egyptians on Tahrir Square and the Tunisians on Avenue Habib Bourguiba. They belong to the same generation, they use the same electronic devices and have the same demands: an end to tyranny in a region that has seen too much of it already." (19/02/2011)

Público - Portugal

The differences in Arab dominoes

Roughly a quarter of a million people gathered at Cairo's Tahrir Square for a "victory march" after prayers on Friday - exactly a week after the protesting masses in Egypt forced Hosni Mubarak to resign. Even if the future of the country is still unclear Egypt is serving as a role model, the daily Público comments: "To use the words of an Egyptian citizen: 'Just as Tunisia was a guiding light for us, we will be a light for others.' ... The fact is that these 'others' are copying Egypt. But while the demonstrators in Cairo didn't call 'Death for Mubarak' those in Bahrain are calling 'Death for the Caliph!'. And blood has already been spilled on Lulu Square, while the Prince is saying it's time for dialogue and promising reform. In this game of dominoes not all the pieces are falling with the same ease, nor with the same effect. Egypt's example simply shows that it is possible." (19/02/2011)

POLITICS

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Corriere della Sera - Italy

Dark future for Merkel after election defeat

The German Social Democrats have won an absolute majority in Hamburg's state elections, while the conservative CDU lost more than half of its share of the vote and government. This is a devastating start to a year with seven state parliament elections for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, writes the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera: "The magnitude of this defeat demonstrates what an impact negative public opinion on the national Christian Democrat (CDU) and Liberal (FDP) government has had. After the debacle in Hamburg the future doesn't look too rosy for Frau Merkel. Next months there will be state elections in Baden Württemberg, an important state which has always been a Christian Democrat stronghold. But here too, the CDU is likely to lose. The discontent and tensions within the Chancellor's party are growing. Moreover the plagiarism scandal involving Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg and the rebellion of numerous EU countries against her Eurozone reform plan aren't exactly helping matters." (21/02/2011)

Sega - Bulgaria

Monitoring won't help EU newcomers

The EU Commission's interim report on justice and the fight against crime was published on Friday, and states that there has hardly been any progress in these areas in Bulgaria and Romania. The daily Sega doubts the purpose of the monitoring and fears for the future of the two EU newcomers: "The poor results of Bulgaria and Romania in EU monitoring already serve as a pretext for an increasingly harsh policy. Nationalistic forces in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and other states are increasingly attempting to push these countries to the sidelines of the Community. ... Consequently the soap opera over the two sinners does not look like it will have a happy ending. On the contrary: the plot is dragging on and straining the nerves of the producers. ... Bulgaria and Romania shouldn't get upset if the EU show goes on without them in another format. Because today they must forgo accession to the Eurozone and the Schengen Area, and tomorrow perhaps in other areas of close cooperation. Until finally one day they will wake up to see that they must apply all over again to a very different-looking EU." (20/02/2011)

Népszabadság - Hungary

Hungary ignores people's will on constitution

Hungary's right-wing conservative government under Viktor Orbán plans to use its two-thirds parliamentary majority to pass a new constitution in April. To this end it has sent a questionnaire to all Hungarian households. But that's a far cry from actually consulting the people, writes the liberal daily Népszabadság: "A quick glance at the twelve questions is enough to see that the government is not consulting the people for advice, but merely wants to have them bless its own concept for a constitution. The important questions are not being asked: Is working out a new constitution really the government's most pressing task? Is the opinion of the voters legally binding, or are they just being given an opportunity to blab away about it? Is the ruling Fidesz party really the only political force capable of working out a new constitution? [The majority of the opposition parties will not participate in drafting it.] Instead we're presented with twelve silly questions to which 90 percent of the answers are entirely predictable." (21/02/2011)

The Irish Times - Ireland

Coalition with Labour in Ireland a nightmare

Parliamentary elections will take place this Sunday in Ireland. The ruling party Fianna Fail stands to lose the most seats, while opposition party Fine Gael leads in the polls. The liberal daily The Irish Times writes that a coalition with the Labour Party is not a good idea: "The key issue is whether the budget deficit should be reduced to manageable proportions in four years, as the EU-IMF deal specifies, or whether it should be long fingered. Fine Gael is strongly of the view that the four-year target should be met while Labour wants a longer timeframe. ... The nightmare scenario is that Fine Gael and Labour would agree a coalition but would then settle down to trench warfare over every budget cut, as happened in the 1980s. This time around economic conditions are far worse and there simply isn't the time for such endless bickering." (20/02/2011)

REFLECTIONS

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Pravda - Slovakia

Eduard Chmelár on Europe's failure in North Africa

Europe's approach to the current crisis in several North African and Arab countries is a diplomatic fiasco, according to historian and political scientist Eduard Chmelár writing in the leftist daily Pravda: "The escalation of the situation in North Africa offered Europe its only chance to boost its influence in the region. But after hundreds of people had already died on Cairo's streets the head of EU diplomacy Catherine Ashton spoke merely of 'alleged' loss of human lives. The permanent head of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, openly admitted that prior to the uprising few people had bothered about human rights in Egypt. The Arab forces for democracy now need a clear signal from the EU that their protests may have taken us by surprise but they are welcome. However the stances of the individual state leaders are as disparate as can be. ... Europe's foreign policy can't work because it has no clear strategic goals. As long as we in North Africa taken only a sporadic interest in oil, migrants and the comfort of tourists we won't be able to establish ourselves in a long-term position there. ... Who in North Africa would place their hopes in Europe today?" (21/02/2011)

ECONOMY

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Delo - Slovenia

G20 reforms misdirected

The finance ministers and heads of central banks of the G20 countries agreed on a handful of indicators to aid in the identification of undesirable economic trends at a meeting on Saturday in Paris. According to the daily Delo this doesn't go far enough: "The financial crisis which has driven a large part of the global economy into recession with severe social consequences was not caused just by imbalances, although the latter had been growing for several years. The main cause was the insatiable greed for profit, aided by increasingly complicated financial products over which government bodies lost all control. The leading 20 nations may have announced resolute measures at their first summit in November 2008 in Washington and may have carried them through later but now it looks very much like the profit genie has once again escaped from the bottle." (21/02/2011)

Berlingske - Denmark

Danish retailers hamper competition

Denmark's planning laws and shop closing laws are hindering the construction of major shopping centres and specialist shops, the conservative daily Berlingske complains: "In many areas of the country you have to cover large distances to get to a shopping centre because for years the country's planning laws have made it impossible to build new ones. This has a lot to do with the retailers' organisation. With their lobbying they have managed for years to induce politicians to stick to outdated planning and shop closing laws at the expense of free competition and consumer options, with the result that here in Denmark we have a retail infrastructure that is among the most ineffective in all Europe. At the same time both articles of daily use and specialist products are far more expensive than in countries like England, Holland or Sweden. ... A first step towards liberalisation would be to relax planning laws in outlying districts, as the government has already proposed." (21/02/2011)

CULTURE

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Die Tageszeitung taz - Germany

Berlinale boosts Iranian freedom movement

The Iranian drama Nader And Simin, A Separation by director Asghar Farhadi has won the Golden Bear at this year's Berlin International Film Festival. The attention paid to Iran at the Berlinale has a political dimension, writes the leftist daily die tageszeitung: "Asghar Farhadi's Golden Bear-winning Nader And Simin, A Separation shows the diversity of a society that thirsts for freedom and self-determination. Despite ongoing suppression and paternalism, the resistance movement is still lively and creative. This is yet another confirmation that the attempt which has now lasted for more than thirty years to Islamify the country and force a narrow view of life and morals on the people has failed. ... Gradually Iranians are also seeing what an important role literature, art and culture play in society. ... The Iranian people need backing from abroad. And the attention showered on the film makers at the Berlinale will certainly encourage artists and others in Iran to go on creating." (21/02/2011)

SOCIETY

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Kaleva - Finland

Prevent ghettos in Finland

At only 2.9 percent, Finland has a relatively low percentage of foreigners in comparison with the rest of Europe. But increasingly foreigners are concentrated in certain parts of cities and towns and the differences between the different parts of its cities are also increasing. This promotes marginalisation and criminality, the liberal daily Kaleva writes: "Those countries with a considerably higher percentage of foreigners than Finland have already realised that it's not good when they are all grouped in the same places. ... In Finland the situation is less alarming than in Sweden, where the difficulties in some areas have already grown out of control. Problems and marginalisation often result when people have no work and no income. Marginalisation in turn leads to indifference towards society's rules, which ultimately fosters criminality. If nothing is done to counter this immigrants will continue to conglomerate in the same areas of cities. As long as the problems don't get out of control it's still possible to change the course." (21/02/2011)

Gândul - Romania

Don't humiliate young talent

The young Romanian Narcis Iustin Ianău was discovered on the weekend when he appeared as a gifted countertenor on the television show Romanians have got Talent. But despite his talent the high school student has not had an easy time in life so far, writes the daily Gândul: "Narcis said during the show that his fellow students made fun of him and said he had a voice like a girl. As no one else encouraged him, he had to spur himself on. ... In Romania a very good actor is usually called a geek by his colleagues, a gifted musician is at best considered a strange fellow in his own neighbourhood, and a muscular sportswoman is teased for being a 'man-woman'. If only the Romanians were somewhat more politically correct those who know young talented people would understand that while no one is forcing them to admire their talents, the talented mustn't be humiliated either. Exceptional people often lead difficult lives. Just as Narcis did before he left the entire nation spellbound." (21/02/2011)

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