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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 11/04/2011

 

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Europe at odds over refugees

 

A dispute over refugee policy has broken out among the major EU states. The EU interior ministers will meet today to discuss plans for joint action. Rather than seal itself off, Europe must allocate the refugees equitably to several different countries, writes the press.

Público - Portugal

Inhumane treatment

Italy plans to issue temporary visas to thousands of Tunisians, enabling them to travel to all the countries of the Schengen area. But this approach won't solve the refugee problem, writes the daily Público: "This is the hour of the populists: Berlusconi ... is enjoying the praise of the people for 'freeing the island'. ... But he will neither be able to stem the influx of refugees nor 'free' the island. ... The problem can only be solved on the other side of the Mediterranean if the countries of origin can offer decent living standards. But that won't happen in a couple of days. Europe has no solution for this problem and reacts inhumanely and blindly. We cannot ignore people who risk their lives every day to reach the doors of the 'European paradise'." (10/04/2011)

El País - Spain

Guarantee speedy return

In view of the wave of immigrants from North Africa the interior ministers of the 27 EU states are meeting today to discuss a joint approach. The refugees must be justly distributed among the member states, writes the left-liberal daily El País: "The politicians of the major European powers - including Spain - have been making great declarations of support with the democratic revolutions in the Arab world. One form of lending this support would be to take in these refuges and distribute them equally among the different member states while at the same time cooperating with the countries affected with the aim of stabilising the situation so that they can return to their countries of origin as soon as possible. In this manner tragedies like the sinking of a boat off the coast of Lampedusa last Wednesday in which more than 200 people lost their lives can perhaps be prevented. The EU cannot close its eyes to this problem." (11/04/2011)

Salzburger Nachrichten - Austria

Lacking solidarity

The German state of Bavaria wants to prevent refugees from Tunisia from entering the country via the German-Austrian border, if necessary by ramping up control measures. The Christian-liberal daily Salzburger Nachrichten criticises the lacking solidarity among the EU member states when it comes to refugees: "As soon as refuges start spilling across Europe's borders in large numbers the EU countries stop being nice to each other. ... The dreadful situation shows that Europe has gone astray when it comes to refugee and immigration policy. The responsibility for asylum-seekers and refugees lies solely with those who patrol Europe's borders. And if the Italians, Greeks or Spanish are unable to cope with the situation, instead of stepping in to help the other countries start cutting themselves off as Bavaria and other central Europeans are doing now. The pressure from the refugees won't lessen. Here too, Europe will have to find a united approach to the problem instead of trying to pass it on to others." (11/04/2011)

POLITICS

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Sme - Slovakia

Czech Republic lacks political stability

The Czech Republic's centre-right government threatens to collapse after just nine months in power. Prime Minister Petr Nečas plans to rotate three ministers belonging to his junior party Public Affairs (VV) who are involved in a spying and corruption affair. The party VV is said to have close ties with the controversial private security agency ABL. According to the liberal Slovakian daily Sme, Nečas is right to sense a threat to democracy: "Ministers who are allied with ABL have no place in the government. There can be no talk of democracy if the state is being managed by a private firm. To be sure the prime minister will lose his majority without VV. ... Early elections then? But how many voters will go to the polls? Last year they were told the country had finally attained political stability. But that didn't even last a year." (11/04/2011)

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

Finance policy change in Washington

US Democrats and Republicans have come to a last-minute agreement on a budget for the current year. According to President Obama the compromise marks the deepest budget cuts in the country's history. The liberal conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung approves of the deal: "The time of costly stimulus packages is over, as is the Democratic dream of a permanent rise in state expenditures. Not so long ago Obama was ready to freeze certain expenditure categories at the current - high - level, starting next year that is. Under pressure from the Republicans he is now forced to switch priorities. The message of the budget compromise is clear - budget reorganisation must start now, and it must be done along Republican lines, with cuts and not further tax hikes. In view of the end of the recession in the country this is an important - and entirely justified - step. And finally, it is exactly the message the people mandated the politicians in Washington to send out when they went to the polls in November." (11/04/2011)

Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland

Unworthy commemoration of Smolensk disaster

Poland on Sunday commemorated president Lech Kaczyński and 95 other representatives of the Polish state who died a year ago in a plane crash near the Russian city of Smolensk. But in view of the accusations voiced against leading Polish and Russian politicians the atmosphere was unworthy of the occasion, according to the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza: "What do the slogans that were chanted before the Russian embassy and the presidential palace in Warsaw have to do with commemorating the victims. ... And what was the motivation of these people who cried 'Putin - murderer! and burned a puppet in his likeness? This is shameful! Young Russians, by contrast, laid flowers in front of the Russian embassy in Warsaw and the Polish embassy in Moscow and lit commemorative candles." (11/04/2011)

The Times - United Kingdom

Burka ban stands for cynical intolerance

A burka ban comes into effect today in France: women who wear full-body veils in public can be ordered to remove them or pay a fine of 150 euros. This ban is an attempt to use intolerance to teach Muslims tolerance, the conservative daily The Times writes: "Nobody in France whose salary is paid by the State ... refers to their religious beliefs. An American president may ask God to bless his country; a French one would not be allowed to. The French believe that the State must toe the fine line between freedom of religion and freedom from religion. But has it mis-stepped? The burka is an uncomfortable symbol to Western eyes. A world in which they faded into history through enlightened debate would be welcome to most. But it is surely an irony to seek to defend liberal European values of tolerance and sexual freedom by restricting the freedom of women to dress as they wish." (11/04/2011)

Avvenire - Italy

Egypt's problems with democracy

The most violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces since the fall of the long-standing ruler Hosni Mubarak took place at Tahir Square in Cairo on the weekend. The revolutionary wave in the Arab world is not automatically establishing democratic structures, the Catholic daily Avvenire writes: "As to be expected, in Egypt too there has been a return to violence at the symbolic place of the revolts. The power elites were willing to sacrifice the ruler who symbolised the regime but are putting up a lot more fierce resistance to handing over the true power because they will then fall victim to their old political opponent. After the pharaoh's fall all the elements of conflict remain intact - the military that controls the transition, the administrational elite, the liberal opposition and the Muslim radicals and a youth without prospects. A solution that would be satisfactory for all is practically impossible." (11/04/2011)

ECONOMY

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Frankfurter Rundschau - Germany

Icelanders defy banks and EU

The Icelanders have for a second time rejected plans to recompense people from other countries who had deposited their savings with the bankrupt Icesave bank, thus blocking Iceland's path into the EU. The left-liberal daily Frankfurter Rundschau nonetheless congratulates the nation on its decision: "A brave people, these Icelanders! For the second time they have ignored all the warnings and rejected a debt-settlement agreement they consider unfair - despite all the prophecies that this will cost them a long period of uncertainty, potentially a lot of money and ultimately EU membership. This is refreshingly democratic. That it shouldn't be the taxpayers who pay for the failures of the banks and the greed of customers lured by the promise of high interest is a view many people in other countries no doubt share. But they aren't being asked. ... As writer Einar Mar Gudmonson put it: a 'Yes' would have meant admitting to a crime that one hadn't committed for the sake of getting off more lightly." (11/04/2011)

lr - Latvia

Latvia not to blame for higher inflation

Latvia's consumer price index rose by 4.2 percent in March. That's no reason to fly off in all directions, writes the daily Ir: "The major cause is the rise in oil, cereal and metal prices which have surpassed the expectations of all international experts since last summer. No one could have predicted the political unrest in the Arab states, which even now stands a good chance of counting among the most important events of the decade. Inflation will be spurred by higher electricity prices in April and the rise in value added tax in July. But apart from these factors what we should see is a gradual price stabilisation, even if average annual inflation lies at over 4 percent. After all, no one can be held responsible for global factors. So while the price rise will have many consequences for Latvia its reasons are to be sought abroad. Here at home we are not menaced by a price-wage spiral either this year or next. For that reason a major action plan would make little sense." (11/04/2011)

CULTURE

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Kristeligt Dagbladet - Denmark

The book has a future

Two book fairs in Denmark have attracted a remarkably high number of visitors this past weekend. The Christian daily Kristeligt Dagblad is delighted at what it sees as a growing trend: "These throngs augur well for the future of the book, which is developing into a social medium. Reading is no longer an isolated activity carried out at home alone in one's armchair. A growing number of readers share their interests with other like-minded people - in book clubs, at readings, in Internet forums. Readers want to meet other readers and the authors behind the books. Book fairs offer a setting uniquely suited to this purpose. The writers step down from their high horses and meet readers on an equal footing across the country." (11/04/2011)

SOCIETY

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NRC Handelsblad - Netherlands

No weapons for unstable people

Two days after a shooting spree in the Dutch city of Alphen aan den Rijn the motive of the perpetrator remains unclear. On Saturday a young man shot seven people dead and injured 19 more at a shopping centre before taking his own life. Such deeds can happen anywhere, the daily NRC Handelsbad writes: "Unfortunately it is naïve to believe that terrible events like these won't happen elsewhere. It can happen any day, anywhere - and frequently no one can prevent it. ... The most urgent question now is how this obviously unstable 24-year-old man who had previously been treated for mental problems could obtain a licence for his five weapons? How could he be a member of a marksman association and own the automatic weapon with which he caused a bloodbath last Saturday? This drama should provoke a thorough examination of who should be allowed to own weapons and a gun licence. ... Because unfortunately people like him can turn up very suddenly." (11/04/2011)

Helsingin Sanomat - Finland

Investigate sexual abuse in the Church

There have been many cases of sexual abuse of children among the Lutheran revivalist Laestadian movement in the last decade, most of which were hushed up and are today past the limitations period. The movement's association (SRK) has recently opened an internal investigation. But more must be done, writes the liberal daily Helsingin Sanomat: "The sexual abuse of children is a serious crime. For that reason investigations into it cannot be nothing more than an internal matter in a religious movement. Both the police and social workers must do their best to look into the matter and bring the facts to light. ... At the same time it is to be hoped that shedding light on the abuse will spark a self-critical discussion within the SRK. ... What role did the movement's doctrines, culture and structure play? What can be learned? ... No doubt the SRK would have reacted quicker and done more if its top positions had not all been filled by men, and its sexual morals had not been defined by a group of older men." (10/04/2011)

România Liberâ - Romania

Bucharest must cull stray dogs

The Romanian Senate last week approved measures for culling stray dogs. Now all that is needed for the bill to become law is the approval of the lower house of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies. The daily România Liberă supports the amendment and criticises the NGOs that oppose it: "In Romania there are hundreds of thousands of stray dogs. Thousands of people are bit by them each year, because the strategies adopted by the NGOs have accomplished nothing. Neither the sterilisation nor the adoption campaign have brought the slightest improvement. On the contrary, the number of stray dogs rises with every year that passes. Many 'animal lovers' adopted dogs to save them from the overfilled cages at the pound - only to put them back on the streets not long afterwards. ... A dog you abandon on the street has not been given back its freedom. Rather it resembles a bird that you free from its cage. It is a neglected, forgotten animal." (11/04/2011)

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