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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 14/11/2011

 

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Economist Monti to form government

The 68-year-old Monti must implement the austerity measures promised by Berlusconi. (©AP)

 

After the resignation of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Saturday, Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano on Sunday evening tasked economist Mario Monti with forming a transitional government. Berlusconi's reign is finally over, commentators write, but Monti faces an uphill battle with the Cavaliere's legacy.

Daily Mirror - United Kingdom

Ciao, Silvio

It was high time the conceited Cavaliere resigned, the left-leaning tabloid The Mirror comments in view of the crisis: "Whether it was bungs or ­bunga-bunga parties, Silvio Berlusconi's leadership was a disgrace. Italy, and Europe, is well rid of the ­shameless, leering lothario. His cavalier attitude to the ­principles of high office made his country a laughing stock. But his reckless handling of Italy's finances is truly unforgiveable. Its economy is on its knees and the rest of Europe teeters on the brink of catastrophe. The fact he still believes he can make a comeback is evidence of his appalling vanity. It is time to say 'ciao, Silvio' once and for all." (14/11/2011)

Hospodářské noviny - Czech Republic

Monti must rescue Eurozone

Italy's prime minister designate, Mario Monti, has said he is convinced his country can overcome the crisis by pulling together. But it is he who faces the biggest challenge, writes the liberal business paper Hospodářské noviny: "The expectations that are being placed on Monti are almost inhuman. First of all he must gain the confidence of the financial markets. They, in turn, will react according to whether Monti and his government enjoy the trust of the political parties and Italy as a whole. The economist Mario Monti knows, however, that his task is even greater than that. He doesn't just have to rescue Italy, but the entire Eurozone." (14/11/2011)

Die Presse - Austria

Expert governemnt dependent on populists

In Rome as in Athens experts have now taken the reins. They may have the knowledge for their task but they don't stand a chance against the populists lurking behind the scenes, writes the liberal-conservative daily Die Presse: "It will be an interesting experiment. In Italy as in Greece the crisis has put people at the helm of transitional governments who would never have stood a chance in 'normal' election campaigns: cool-headed technocrats who are not so big on charisma. People who understand financial policy and know what needs to be done now, but lack the political power base. The populist-free 'expert government' that ex-EU commissioner Mario Monti, a professor from Milan, is now putting together will therefore nonetheless be dependent on the political heavyweights pulling the strings in the background. ... Consequently the Italian recovery experiment will function only until one of the populists in the background sees a chance to capitalise politically on the undoubtedly ever increasing disgruntlement of the people."  (14/11/2011)

Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

Monti is Italy's insolvency administrator

The task of the designated prime minister Mario Monti is basically that of an insolvency administrator, the business paper Il Sole 24 Ore concludes: "A poorly managed company files for bankruptcy or is bought up by a healthy company. For states like Italy a 'hostile takeover' is fortunately unimaginable today. ... So the only option is bankruptcy. When a company goes bust a court appoints an administrator, not a manager. His task is not to draw up development plans but to reorganise the company either to put it in someone else's hands or to sell it. ... It is a temporary administration mandate, not a political one, and the only objective is to solve the problems that politics was incapable of solving." (14/11/2011)

POLITICS

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NRC Handelsblad - Netherlands

Syria is an Arab problem

The Arab League on Saturday announced the suspension of Syria's membership and sanctions against Bashar al-Assad's regime. This ups the pressure on the United Nations but the problem remains an Arab one, writes the liberal daily NRC Handelsblad: "The US President Barack Obama was pleased by the decision and announced that the United States would not continue to exert pressure on Assad's murderous regime together with its 'friends and allies'. But there will be no military intervention like in Libya. It would already be a major step if the Security Council were to simply pass a condemnatory resolution. But Russia and China mustn't veto this again. For now these two permanent members of the Security Council are shrouding themselves in silence. The opposition in Syria sees the Arab League's decision to suspend Syria as strengthening its cause. But this is likely to remain the only help on which it can count from abroad. Syria is an Arab problem that requires an Arab solution." (14/11/2011)

Welt am Sonntag - Germany

Berlin must condemn Neonazi murders

A group of Neonazis has been linked to a series of violent crimes in Germany: the murder of eight Turkish and one Greek shop owners  as well as a police officer, a bomb attack and several bank robberies. This time Germany's politicians must be more resolute in their condemnation of the culprits, the conservative Sunday paper Welt am Sonntag writes: "Twenty years ago the homes of Turks and for asylum seekers were burned. The scenes of these disgraceful acts were called Hoyerswerda, Rostock, Mölln and Solingen. But the fire was never put out, we simply didn't see the flames. The Turks living in Germany will now ask themselves whether this state is really able or willing to protect them. When at the beginning of the 1990s some of their families died in the attacks there was no grand gesture of solidarity. No chancellor or president ever visited the location of the attacks - and the immigrants took note of this. The onus is all the greater on Germany's top politicians now. The victims' next of kin expect support and an explanation. And we owe them both." (14/11/2011)

De Standaard - Belgium

Belgium caught between markets and EU

EU trade commissioner Karel de Gucht once again stressed on the weekend the need for Belgium to finally enact the reforms and austerity measures demanded by Europe. But the six designated coalition parties are not making progress with their budget negotiations, the liberal daily De Standaard complains: "Little by little the question is no longer whether action will be taken against Belgium. If things continue like this action will be taken and the only question will be who will do it: the European Union or the financial markets? And if it is the EU it will be humiliating for the government, which shortly after taking power, or even shortly before, is having to repeat its homework and lump the citizens with 700 million euros in cuts as punishment. If the 'markets' intervene this will be even more humiliating for the politicians and more expensive for the citizens." (14/11/2011)

Lietuvos žinios - Lithuania

Lithuania should stick to euro introduction

Lithuania wants to introduce the euro in 2014. The conservative daily Lietuvos Zinios weighs the consequences of such a move in view of the debate over a two-speed Europe: "The more integration there is, the less leeway each member will have. That makes joining the Eurozone less attractive, as more Europe would mean less Lithuania. But one shouldn't overrate economic sovereignty. With the rise of globalisation there can no longer be any self-sufficient economies. Even now observers are saying that the members of the Eurozone are shaping economic policy in the entire EU, and that their predominance will only grow with time. For the time being this is all a long way off. Nevertheless the Lithuanian government must follow developments closely, assess the consequences of each scenario for Lithuania and defend our country's interests. And even if it means limiting our room for manoeuvre, joining the Eurozone must remain our goal." (14/11/2011)

REFLECTIONS

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Spiegel Online - Germany

Georg Diez explains Germany's triumphant march in the EU

Two new books on the Germans are supposed to help people understand how the EU has become so German, writes columnist Georg Diez on the news portal Spiegel Online: "In recent weeks Germany has won the Second World War. Whoops. Did I spill the beans there? Naturally not with weapons, and not the Germans of back then. We, the new and good Germans, have won it with our billions. ... And this is why now, in a bid to convey a sense of meaning in the crisis, we have a hefty book inscribed with the title in gold letters: Die deutsche Seele (The German soul), so that we can understand exactly what it is between Abendbrot [cold supper], the abyss and work mania on the one hand and Winnetou [a reference to the Karl May classic Winnetou and Old Shatterhand], sausage and inner conflict that makes us so German. ... 'The German Genius' is the title of an almost 1,000-page, far lighter but pretty fantastic book written by the British author Peter Watson in which he expresses his admiration of German culture without breaking out in goose pimples - he describes astutely and coolly how the present has been constructed according to the German model. ... So are these the books we need to culturally cushion our EU triumph? On the inside an eerie soul; on the outside all-round genius? It helps, of course, if we are no longer perceived as the fearful Germans, the foolish Germans, the dumb Germans. But on the other hand, who are we really? We are the technocrats carrying Goethe with us everywhere we go." (14/11/2011)

O Kosmos tou Ependiti - Greece

Giannis Kibouropoulos prefers drachma to euro junta

Since Friday Greece has a caretaker government led by banker Lucas Papademos. This means the brutal euro junta now definitively has the country under its thumb, columnist Giannis Kibouropoulos gripes in the business paper O Kosmos tou Ependiti: "We are witnessing a pan-European putsch. A euro junta is trying to establish itself in all the countries threatened with bankruptcy. ... Instead of using weapons it is bombarding the people with the fear of insolvency, blackmailing them with the threat of being kicked out of the Eurozone and 'raping' the sovereignty and democracy of their countries. ... If the euro junta calls into question the existence of a state, its sovereignty, its democracy and the conditions for the survival of its citizens, then what exactly is the incentive to stay in the Eurozone? ... What is the incentive to avoid bankruptcy and a return to the national currency, which are being presented to the politically mutilated citizens as a nightmare scenario?" (13/11/2011)

ECONOMY

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Blog Coulisses de Bruxelles - Belgium

Change of course: ECB backs weak euro countries

According to Marko Kranjec, Slovenian member of the General Council of the European Central Bank, the ECB will continue to purchase the bonds of indebted euro countries. Jean Quatremer writes on his blog Coulisses de Bruxelles that Kranjec's statement indicates the ECB is changing its course: "A growing number of politicians and economists, notably in France, are convinced that at the edge of the precipice the ECB will have no choice but to change its tactics. ... Marko Kranjec no doubt meant to say that the ECB will not let the Eurozone collapse. Well then why not just come out and say it, and send a clear signal to the markets? On the one hand, to maintain pressure on states to get their public finances in order. ... On the other hand, out of fear of fuelling protest in Germany. But as British Prime Minister David Cameron has said, 'the moment of truth is approaching'. Very soon now Berlin will have to decide how far it is willing to go to save the common currency." (14/11/2011)

Népszabadság - Hungary

Orbán destroys Hungary's creditworthiness

After the US rating agency Fitch lowered Hungary's credit rating to just one level above junk status on Friday the competing agency Standard & Poor's warned on Saturday that it too may downgrade Hungary. Proof that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's economic policy is a failure, writes the left-liberal daily Népszabadság: "While the Orbán government is forecasting economic growth of 1.5 percent for 2012, Brussels is expecting growth of just 0.5 percent (and some experts at home even estimate the economy will shrink by three to four percent). ... In view of pressure to lower the public debt, the 2012 budget will focus on austerity. As a result there will be insufficient financial resources to crank up Hungary's economic motor. ... The financing of the Hungarian economy through the free market - on which the Orbán government has been insisting since its falling out with the IMF - looks increasingly problematic." (14/11/2011)

MEDIA

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El País - Spain

Twitter censors Spanish election campaign parody

The company Twitter Inc. closed the account of a user going by the name @nanianorajoy after he published parodies of the tweets of Mariano Rajoy, the leading conservative candidate in the parliamentary elections scheduled for November 20. This was a failed attempt at censorship, the left-liberal daily El País concludes: "On the same day the account was closed, dozens of clone accounts were created. Many users who had previously been unaware of the account reacted with annoyance to its being closed down. And all of a sudden this collection of witty sarcastic comments turned into a symbol of freedom of expression. If anyone was mistakenly under the impression that the account was slanderous they should have appealed to the Spanish courts, but not requested the company to close the account on the grounds that it violated the conditions of use. ... This episode is nothing but pure censorship." (14/11/2011)

LOCAL COLOURS

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Duma - Bulgaria

Honorary doctorate for footballer Stoichkov a scandal

The former member of Bulgaria's national football team Hristo Stoichkov was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Plovdiv University on Saturday even though he is generally considered to be a bit dumb. The daily Duma finds the award scandalous and sees it as a present from Prime Minister Boyko Borisov in exchange for Stoichkov's support of his presidential candidate Rosen Plevneliev: "The government has gone so far that even those who cast themselves as the intellects of the nation are the first to clamber into the monkey cage. Would Stoichkov ever have been able to pose before the cameras as some sort of wise man in a toga if he hadn't done all he could beforehand to raise Plevneliev's standing in the polls? Hardly. All over the world the honorary doctorate is awarded for services to and the promotion of knowledge, education, science and culture. ... Only here in Bulgaria has it become a doormat for friends of those in power." (14/11/2011)

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