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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 05/05/2011

 

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Portugal must earn its bailout

 

Highly indebted Portugal will receive 78 billion euros from the EU, the European Central Bank and the IMF. The bailout agreement must now be approved by the lender institutions, the EU finance ministers and the Portuguese opposition. The press expects to see deeds - and thanks - from Portugal.

De Telegraaf - Netherlands

Extravagant countries must do their bit

After Greece and Ireland, Portugal has now also had to apply for aid from the European bailout fund. The three countries have lived above their means, complains the tabloid De Telegraaf: "With the economic downturn the weaknesses of these countries are being laid bare. Unemployment is high, their (state) enterprises are inefficient, their public debts are too high, there are far too many civil servants and tax morale is low. The countries that have been bailed out must now tackle these problems. That will be painful for those concerned, but it's the only way they can get a grip on their financial problems. And they have to do that, because the funding they are now receiving comes from healthy countries like the Netherlands which have put themselves to considerable pains. And this aid must be paid back, otherwise Dutch taxpayers will be financing the profligacy of southern Europe." (05/05/2011)

Jornal de Negócios - Portugal

Politicians should be more grateful

The conditions for Portugal's bailout are less stringent than those for Greece and Ireland but this is no cause for celebration, the business daily Jornal de Negócios writes: "When [opposition leader] Pedro Passos Coelho asked Brussels a few months ago to grant Portugal another year to reduce its deficit he was labelled as immature, irresponsible and destabilising. Yesterday Portugal got precisely what Passos Coelho had asked for - thank goodness. So what do we do now so that another year doesn't turn into yet another year? ... The politicians are celebrating their political victory: the 'it's all your fault' game has turned into a 'this is all thanks to us' game. The players are the same as before: the socialists, the conservatives and the right-wing conservatives. And indeed there are three players who deserve praise for the tolerance shown to Portugal yesterday - namely the IMF, the ECB and the EU. A little gratitude is called for rather than all the proud blustering." (04/05/2011)

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

Rescue plan unrealistic

The example of Portugal shows why rescuing highly indebted countries is so controversial, writes the conservative daily Lidové noviny: "The first problem is unfair treatment. The conditions for Lisbon are softer than for Greece or Ireland. Was Portugal the more skilful negotiator? Or is it already clear that the first two countries won't be able to fulfil their obligations? The preferential treatment doesn't help improve relations in Europe. The second problem is the unrealistic approach. Portugal promised spending cuts that parliament had just rejected. ... Indebted countries need a currency depreciation, lower interest rates and if necessary bankruptcy, meaning a write-off of non-collectable debts. Without at least one of these alleviation measures no one will ever emerge from the debt crisis." (05/05/2011)

POLITICS

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Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

No photos of dead bin Laden

The US government has decided not to publish photos of Osama bin Laden's body. A wise decision, writes the liberal conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung: "It is a fact that in modern society that the desire for revenge and graphic displays grows with the scale of a person's crimes. Nevertheless these are anarchistic reflexes which run counter to our civic values. ... In addition it remains doubtful what information bloody photos of the dead bin Laden could impart, apart from their huge sensational value. The supposition that they could give us definitive proof of bin Laden's death is in any case false. Today we have simply too many technical possibilities for manipulating photos at our disposal, and too few ways of independently verifying the quality of such documents. One must simply believe the American government when it says it acted honestly. What is certain is that lovers of dark conspiracy theories will not be impressed, regardless of what comes out of the US." (05/05/2011)

Dagens Nyheter - Sweden

Malmström defends Schengen

The EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström on Wednesday presented her proposals for immigration in the EU, to be discussed by EU interior and justice ministers next Thursday. The liberal daily Dagens Nyheter has nothing but praise for her ideas: "The xenophobic forces in Europe are over-dramatising the wave of immigration [from North Africa] in a bid to have the borders closed. ... Cecilia Malmström calls for a calm approach and points to the EU's duty to take in people who need protection from persecution. ... She also points out that the EU needs workers, and should therefore keep its borders open for a certain amount of immigration from North Africa. At the same time she proposes tightening controls on the EU's external borders to curb human trafficking and illegal immigration. ... Those who favour a generous European asylum policy must at the same time defend a lawful and humane approach to border control." (05/05/2011)

The Guardian - United Kingdom

Egypt back on the map in Middle East

Representatives of the hitherto hostile Palestinian organisations Hamas and Fatah signed a peace agreement in Cairo on Wednesday. The left-liberal daily The Guardian finds it remarkable that Egypt is now once more emerging as a major player in the Middle East peace process so soon after its revolution: "The Cairo accord could well turn out to be as fragile as the one signed in Mecca four years ago. It can still be undermined in a myriad of ways. But the clock itself cannot be so easily put back. The new factor which will not be changed is Egypt's re-emergence as a major player in the Middle East. No one expected a foreign policy to emerge before a domestic one, least of all before the government itself had been formed. But if Egypt succeeds in projecting its will as Turkey has done, it has the numbers to change the balance of power. It is wholly in the interests of the US and the EU to have a government in Cairo that will keep a peace accord with Israel but not be servile to its interests." (05/05/2011)

Die Presse - Austria

Big brother state thanks to bin Laden

Digital surveillance methods did not contribute to pinpointing Osama bin Laden's whereabouts. Nonetheless security fanatics always use the search for terrorists to justify extensive public surveillance, notes the liberal-conservative daily Die Presse disapprovingly: "It's not the terrorists or the dangerous criminals of this world who get caught up in the digital net of the high-tech police. It's the average citizens, who don't have the resources to organise their daily communication in a conspiratorial way. ... No one interested in pursuing terrorists and dangerous criminals will try to talk the state out of using high-tech methods for investigation. But the current events demonstrate that the hysterical security legislation can also overshoot the mark. Anyone with sufficient criminal energy can evade the authorities' scrutiny with a certain amount of effort. But this is not possible for the average citizen, who lacks the technological know-how. This is part of Osama bin Laden's legacy." (05/05/2011)

România Liberâ - Romania

Romania fights corruption in vain

Romania's Supreme Court on Wednesday sentenced former agriculture minister Ioan Mureşan to seven years behind bars for corruption, however he can still appeal the judgement. Although this is the first time a high-ranking politician has been sent to jail, the daily România Liberă refuses to talk of a breakthrough in the fight against corruption: "If in a few years' time we have a final judgement on Mureşan, who will remember him or care? Instead each day we hear from the media of customs officers taking bribes, ministers are diverting public funds to their firms or parliamentarians bribing judges. ... Then there's a brief commotion, the suspects are led away, their party colleagues disavow them and everything calms down again. Even if every now and then a court demands an additional expert opinion or a trial is delayed the average citizen is still left with the unpleasant impression that things are being arranged rather than penalised here." (05/05/2011)

REFLECTIONS

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La Repubblica - Italy

Thomas Friedman on the end of al-Qaida ideology

The ideology of the al-Qaida network could dissolve following the death of Osama bin Laden, writes the US journalist Thomas L. Friedman in the daily La Repubblica, noting that the Arab Spring is patently a counter-movement to the ideology of terror. This Bin Ladenism "emerged from a devil's bargain between oil-consuming countries and Arab dictators. We all - Europe, America, India, China - treated the Arab world as a collection of big gas stations, and all of us sent the same basic message to the petro-dictators: Keep the oil flowing, the prices low and don't bother Israel too much and you can treat your people however you like, out back, where we won't look. Bin Laden and his followers were a product of all the pathologies that were allowed to grow in the dark out back - crippling deficits of freedom, women's empowerment and education across the Arab world. These deficits nurtured a profound sense of humiliation among Arabs at how far behind they had fallen, a profound hunger to control their own futures and a pervasive sense of injustice in their daily lives. That is what is most striking about the Arab uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia in particular. They were almost apolitical. They were not about any ideology. They were propelled by the most basic human longings for dignity, justice and to control one's own life." (05/05/2011)

ECONOMY

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Ethnos - Greece

Spain's shareholders score despite crisis

Unemployment in Spain is at its highest level in 14 years, with almost five million people in the debt-plagued country without a job. Yet there's a gold-rush mood on the Spanish stock market, the left-liberal daily To Ethnos comments in surprise: "Spanish society is in a dramatic state owing to the high level of unemployment. Yet the Madrid stock exchange is thriving and making a big profit. ... Since the beginning of the year the index of the 35 most important Spanish stocks has climbed by 10 percent, even surpassing the German Dax which rose by nine percent since January. ... And all this despite a sinking gross domestic product in 2010, a 3.8 percent inflation rate, among the highest in the Eurozone, and 21.3 percent unemployment. And now they're trying to tell us that the stock exchange reflects the real economy." (04/05/2011)

24 Chasa - Bulgaria

Bulgaria's smokers save state budget

Plans by the EU Commission foresee a gradual rise in the minimum tax on tobacco until 2014, when it will comprise 63 percent of the sales price. If this were to drive many Bulgarians to quit smoking it would be good for their health but disastrous for Bulgaria's budget, writes the paper 24 Chasa: "In the past ten years tobacco tax together with the accompanying sales tax have swelled to make up a considerable portion of the state budget. The trends show a strong growth from 5.7 to 12 percent of the budget. For many years politicians have seen these growing revenues as a handy source for filling gaps in the budget - one which was also easy to justify: That's what the EU wants. But what will happen if these revenues suddenly plummeted? If Bulgarian smokers decided to cut down or - God forbid - quit smoking altogether?" (04/05/2011)

SOCIETY

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Frankfurter Rundschau - Germany

Therapy not jail for violent criminals

Preventive custody - or keeping dangerous criminals in prison even after they have served their prison terms  - was declared unconstitutional and therefore subject to new regulations by Germany's Federal Constitutional Court on Wednesday. The left-liberal daily Frankfurter Rundschau welcomes the decision because it forces the state to invest in new forms of therapy: "Security has its price. This is - despite all the talk by law-and-order politicians - not to be achieved with ever-stricter laws, but at best by investing in therapy for dangerous people and training for therapists and care personnel. The Federal Constitutional Court is not simply freeing dangerous criminals after they've served their sentences. But it is making sure that in future they will only remain in custody after the most careful scrutiny. It does not say 'lock them away' but 'give them therapy'. Yesterday it banned populist tendencies among lawmakers and helped the constitutional state along the path of justice - also concerning preventive custody." (05/05/2011)

Nordschleswiger - Denmark

Day of liberation for Danes and Germans

Denmark was freed of the National Socialists on May 4, 1945. For the members of the German minority it was a bad day, but nowadays they see it as a liberation, writes Der Nordschleswiger, Denmark's German-language newspaper. "April 18 [1864], April 9 [1940] and May 4 are special days of remembrance in Denmark that have one thing in common: the (once) problematic neighbour to the south, first Prussia, then Germany. ... For the German minority May 4 and 5 was not a day of liberation, at least not from the point of view of the generation living back then. Denmark's liberation meant the incarceration of almost all the men belonging to the German minority. ... Most of them didn't see this as just punishment but as an act of arbitrary injustice on the Danish side. ... Today, however, even the older members of the minority have long since recognised that it was the liberation that opened the door to democracy and a new minority policy, even if it was constitutionally problematic in the beginning. And today's generation knows nothing but democracy, prosperity and good neighbourly relations - luckily!" (05/05/2011)

LOCAL COLOURS

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Keskisuomalainen - Finland

Finland's 7 needs its crossbar

For some years now pupils at Finnish schools have been taught to write the number seven without a crossbar. However in the recent parliamentary elections this caused confusion between the numbers 1 and 7, leading the liberal daily Keskisuomalainen to call for a return to the old way of writing the number: "In elections it is important that the numbers written by voters do not have to be subject to interpretation. Because if they do, mistakes can arise. When the young people who now learn the modern way of writing numbers reach voting age en masse, the problem of interpreting the numbers they write will only grow during elections. And the same is true for many transactions such as contracts, where numbers must be unequivocal. ... For that reason we should ask if it wouldn't be wise to return to the old way of writing numbers, in which seven has a short crossbar in its stem. Otherwise in future the number problem will have to be solved by writing the numbers out on ballot papers, or skipping the number seven when allotting numbers to candidates." (05/05/2011)

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