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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 01/11/2011



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Palestinians make it into Unesco


At the main assembly of Unesco in Paris, the majority of member states on Monday voted to include Palestine as an independent state and full member. In protest the US cut its funding to the UN organisation. The US government should react more astutely to this moral victory for the Palestinians, who for their part should try to move closer to the US if they want a true victory, commentators write.

Diário de Notícias - Portugal

Moral victory not enough

Unesco membership is a further victory for the Palestinians, writes the daily paper Diário de Notícias, but only a moral one: "For at the same time the US has announced that it will stop its contributions to Unesco, demonstrating yesterday that winning a moral victory is easy. For if Palestine's membership in the United Nations depended on the General Assembly alone it would be as good as a done thing. However it is the Security Council that makes the decision, and the US has right of veto here. But the Palestinians won't get anywhere with merely a moral victory because it doesn't solve their problems. They must understand that political victories can only be achieved through open channels of dialogue with Washington and Israel. Only in this way will they ever be recognised as a credible partner." (01/11/2011)

La Stampa - Italy

Palestinian strategy trumps US

Unesco is rewarding moderate Palestinians for their efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the Middle East conflict, and neither the US nor Israel should oppose this, the liberal daily La Stampa comments: "If the Palestinians reach for their weapons there's a hue and cry about how violence prevents peace. If they try to use diplomatic channels it is immediately branded a unilateral initiative that prevents peace. So we'd like to know - in particular from the US, Israel and Italy too, which abstained for the Unesco vote - what the Palestinians are supposed to do. Saying that Unesco's recognition of Palestine is tantamount to a threat is a dubious claim. The new and extremely clever strategy of the Palestinians operates at the heart of the international institutions and the new equilibrium in the world. The US and Israel would do well to recognise the cleverness of the strategy and react with equal cleverness." (01/11/2011)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - Germany

US overreacting

The US has stopped paying its contributions to Unesco in reaction to Palestine's inclusion in the organisation. Washington runs the risk of isolating itself with the move, writes the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: "The membership of 'Palestine' in Unesco is a symbolic success for the Palestinians which could bring them one small step closer to membership in the United Nations. Both Israel and the United States should stop and think if this membership for 'Palestine' is really such a big issue that they have to stop cooperating with the organisation entirely. Washington has already done that once, and isolated itself in the process." (01/11/2011)


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To Vima Online - Greece

Referendum endangers Greek bailout

The Greeks are to vote on the new bailout for their country and the proffered "haircut", Prime Minister Giorgos Papandreou announced on Monday evening. But the decision puts Greece's rescue at risk, the left-liberal online newspaper To Vima fears: "After the numerous social and political reactions the prime minister has announced a referendum in a bid to defuse the tension. ... However this is a risky decision. ... There is no guarantee that there will by any financial aid in the next quarter for the Greek people to say yes or no to. No one can be sure that banks and investors will accept the Brussels deal if it becomes the subject of a referendum. ... The referendum puts the agreement reached at the EU summit at risk. ... Worrying is also the fact that through this referendum we are indirectly being asked whether we want to stay in the Eurozone or not." (01/11/2011)

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

New ECB head soon Italian premier

The Italian Mario Draghi takes over today, Tuesday, as president of the European Central Bank (ECB). The conservative daily Lidové noviny however already sees him as successor to Italy's struggling Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and for that reason only as transitional head of the ECB: "Thanks to his growing popularity he could succeed Italy's prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. It's not only the opposition and the unions who are calling for Berlusconi's resignation, but now also the businesspeople as well, from whose ranks Berlusconi rose. In Italy Mario Draghi is seen as someone with almost supernatural powers. Above all the Italians appreciate that he was able to prevent his country's bankruptcy in the 1990s as director of the Italian Treasury. Draghi ordered large-scale privatisation, devalued the currency and cut state expenditure. Only thanks to these measures was Italy able to become a founding member of the Eurozone in 1999. ... Even today Berlusconi is completely dependent on Draghi." (01/11/2011)

Le Soir - Belgium

Belgian nuclear phaseout rotten compromise

Belgium wants a nuclear phaseout by 2015. This was the agreement reached by Belgium's future governing coalition under Walloon Social Democrat Elio di Rupo on Sunday, upholding a law dating back to 2003. It's about time, the daily Le Soir writes, but remains sceptical about whether the phaseout will really happen: "Great. Over 3,000 days after it was passed, the people learn that the law will be 'retained'. And what does it stipulate? Let's recap: the gradual shutting down (between 2015 and 2025) of the seven Belgian reactors, the first three in 2015. In four years Doel 1 and 2 and Tihange 1 will be taken off grid. Or not, as the case may be. ... The schedule could be altered depending on the results of a study - the umpteenth - which has yet to be carried out. ... The 'agreement' reached on Sunday evening reeks of political rhetoric and shaky compromises. After eight years, Belgium still doesn't know what it's energy policy will look like." (01/11/2011)

Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

Syria in line after Libya

Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Monday declared the end of Nato military operations in Tripoli and stressed that there should not be a similar intervention in Syria. But Nato is actually leaving Libya at the behest of the US, which wants to concentrate on Syria and Iran, the business paper Il Sole 24 Ore suspects: "Libya has long since become just a minor intervention in a far bigger exchange deal. The big game is no longer in Tripoli but on the Gulf. The goal is to manoeuvre the Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad into a corner and isolate Syria's strongest ally, Iran. ... The US is leaving the fate of Libya in the hands of the Europeans and the Arabs. It has other interests to defend. It wants to install a new 'security architecture' in a region that forms the front line with Iran and contains 60 percent of the world's oil reserves. This is why it is boosting its presence in Kuwait and intensifying its military relations with the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council." (01/11/2011)

lr - Latvia

Kyrgyzstan turns toward Moscow

Almazbek Atambayev, Prime Minister of the Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan, won the country's presidential elections on Sunday with roughly 63 percent of the vote. The online newspaper Ir is sceptical about the winner because of his pro-Russian stance: "Voter participation was around 60 percent, not bad at all for Kyrgyzstan. Moreover there weren't any deaths on election day or the day after, and that too comes as good news. Kyrgyzstan is the only state in Central Asia which has made it through the past year without a vertical power structure or authoritarian leader, but it remains a moot question whether the new president will abide by that. ... What is known, by contrast, is that Atambayev is closer to Moscow than [transitional president] Otunbayeva. Kyrgyzstan has already expressed the wish to join the customs union comprising Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, and there is no doubt that it will be accepted. Not for economic considerations: rather this wish dovetails with the plan of future Russian president Vladimir Putin to build a Eurasian Union on the territory of the former Soviet Union." (01/11/2011)

Financial Times - United Kingdom

Europe will fail in any case

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has argued repeatedly in the past weeks that "if the euro fails, Europe will fail as well". The liberal-conservative business paper the Financial Times agrees: "Solving the eurozone crisis requires policies diametrically opposed to those of the EU, most notably those to do with the single market. The needs of market integration are different for a monetary union in trouble than for a wider club of countries primarily interested in free trade. From a eurozone perspective, the single market's main failure has been an inability to cut persistent economic imbalances: rather than a single market, the eurozone needs the equivalent of an economics minister. … For Britain, Sweden, Denmark and other non-eurozone countries the question is no longer simply whether they should join the euro, or not. It is whether they want to remain in an organisation with which they will have increasingly less in common." (01/11/2011)


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Heti Válasz - Hungary

Péter Ákos Bod on the difficult position of rating agencies

Many politicians who cannot understand why their country's credit rating has been downgraded are currently directing their anger against the rating agencies Moody's, Fitch and Standard & Poor's. Economist Péter Ákos Bod defends the agencies in the conservative weekly paper, Heti Válasz: "Simply the news that one of the three rating agencies is taking a closer look at a country redirects capital flows. ... When investing their money the players on the capital markets rely to a great extent on how the agencies assess the creditworthiness of Greece or Turkey. ... The rating agencies, who grade the creditworthiness of a state, don't have an easy time of things: micro-economic data can provide a pretty accurate picture of the state a country is in. But the assessments of the rating agencies refer to the medium and long-term prospects of a country. And here government measures, the resolution of politicians and social reactions play an important role. ... This is why it is enormously difficult to grade the creditworthiness of a country over a number of years." (01/11/2011)


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Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland

Swiss make migrants wary of social benefits

In Switzerland, receiving social benefits can be grounds for the withdrawal of a residency permit. This regulation has already been in effect for some time, but now the immigration authorities for the first time have enough data to apply it effectively. The liberal daily Tages-Anzeiger paper advises a critical stance on the law: "It is a double-edged sword, this newly revived principle. On the one hand it is true that even the legally correct drawing of social security benefits can be morally questionable. If a foreigner becomes dependent on benefits because of inappropriate behaviour, cashes in on them for years legally and perhaps accumulates debts by overspending then expulsion from the country may be justified. On the other hand we should listen to those critical voices who say that a regime of the kind practised by certain cantons can plunge those concerned into poverty. ... No one who gets into material difficulties through no fault of their own should have to fear receiving social security benefits." (01/11/2011)

Adevârul - Romania

Romanians to blame for fatal traffic accidents

Fourteen people were killed in a serious accident on Sunday night when a Romanian lorry and a minibus carrying Romania passengers collided on a section of Hungary's M5 motorway near the Romanian border. The daily Adevărul blames deficiencies in driver training standards: "The madness on Romania's roads is no secret. Hundreds, if not thousands of drivers have simply bought their driving licences. ... That Romanians caused this shocking accident is no coincidence. It is the result of these serious problems in Romania. The incompetence of the traffic police and the pathetic quality of driving schools is compounded by the attitude of haulage companies. Guided only by their greed for profit the company owners put the lives of their drivers and others at risk. In theory there are limits on the speed at which people who drive for a living are allowed to drive. But in practice anyone who doesn't drive has no idea how many of these drivers actually speed." (01/11/2011)

De Telegraaf - Netherlands

Universities must keep tabs on star profs too

Dutch universities at Tilburg and Groningen filed criminal charges on Monday against psychology professor Diederik Stapel, who is said to have fabricated the results of at least 30 research projects. The case has done lasting harm to the reputation of all those concerned, the conservative tabloid De Telegraf writes, and criticises the universities' inadequate supervision: "With Stapel's misdoings, trust in the entire university system has been betrayed. The reputation of the young academics working at his side is now severely damaged, as is that of the universities at Tilburg, Groningen and Amsterdam. ... But the universities must admit their errors too. Stapel benefited from a star status that for years made him invulnerable. The results of his research were too good to be true, and should have been suspect for that very reason. The investigating committee has ascertained that the necessary controls were lacking at all levels. By neglecting their duty the universities have put the basic principles of academia on the line." (01/11/2011)

Helsingin Sanomat - Finland

Finns have a problem with Swedish

Finland has two official languages but bilingual schools are banned. The liberal daily Helsingin Sanomat believes bilingual schools would offer better opportunities for learning than monolingual schools for the respective language groups because in practice Swedish is nowadays a dead language for the majority of Finns: "At the same time the sense of alienation regarding Swedish and the Finnish-Swedish culture is growing, and this is intensifying the gap between the two language groups. ... Both in Finnish and Swedish-speaking circles there has been a lively discussion about this in recent years. In Finnish-speaking circles a small minority is fanning resentment against Swedish. In Swedish-speaking circles on the other hand shutting oneself off from Finnish seems to have found a lot of supporters. In a modern, multicultural world families and children should be offered new alternatives instead of closed doors." (01/11/2011)


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Les Echos - France

Germans find billions, Greeks seek them

After correcting a massive accounting mistake, the nationalised German bank Hypo Real Estate is now worth 55 billion euros more than it was previously valued at, lowering Germany's public debt by 2.6 percent. That highlights the difference between Germany and Greece, writes the business paper Les Echos: "It is written in the Bible (after all, it's All Saints' Day): 'The first will be the last.' Here however the first remain the first. When Greece falsifies its accounts of course it's to hide the fact that everything is going wrong. But when Germany makes a mistake naturally it's in its favour. ... Germany is more than ever the anti-Greece. On paper, Germany's accounting mistake should and could compensate for that of the Greeks. But as we do not share our debts on this continent, that's not how things work. ... As today is a holiday there's no harm in a little joke: in the countries of Northern Europe people are serious and drink beer. In the countries of Southern Europe people are less serious and drink wine. We all know where France stands." (01/11/2011)

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