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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 26/01/2012



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Davos focused on euro crisis

Merkel doesn't see point of tripling euro bailout. (© dapd)


German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos that Germany should not bear too heavy a burden in the euro crisis. While some commentators applaud her message, others lament a lack of commitment to Europe as a political project and even call Western capitalism into question.

Polityka Online - Poland

Germany should not be overburdened

At the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed on Wednesday that Germany cannot save the euro on its own. The left-liberal news portal Polityka Online agrees: "Germany may be the biggest member of the euro club, nevertheless it is far too small to save the single currency on its own. The GDP of our neighbour to the west is not even one fifth that of the entire Union, and merely around a quarter of that of the Eurozone. The hopes being placed in Germany border on the absurd. Certainly, the country has benefited greatly from European integration, and of course it must do all it can to bail out the euro. But you can't expect it to bear every burden that is heaped upon its shoulders. Moreover, it is in Poland's interest that Germany [as Poland's biggest trading partner] should not encounter serious difficulties of its own in assuming the costs of the European crisis." (26/01/2012)

La Repubblica - Italy

Saving the euro won't save Europe

The euro crisis is the main topic at Davos, but the economic rescue of Europe should not drive the political European project into the background, writes historian Timothy Garton Ash in a guest commentary in the left-liberal daily La Repubblica: "If we are witnessing the euro being saved, this is a triumph of fear, not of hope. Other great moments of the European project - the introduction of the single market, 1989, successive enlargements, the launch of the euro itself - were driven by hope. Here, it is fear that has led Germany and others to do the minimum necessary: fear that the costs of collapse would be higher than the unpalatable, resented alternative of 'bailing out' the countries in trouble. ... Above all, we have to recognise that saving the euro is no substitute for the larger political project, of which it was once meant to be both core and catalyst. The politics of fear may have saved the euro. We need a politics of hope to find a European answer to the Arab spring." (26/01/2012)

Jyllands-Posten - Denmark

Capitalism must be revised

Instead of talking about the concrete global economic situation the organisers of the World Economic Forum have launched a fundamental debate about capitalism. The liberal-conservative daily Jyllands-Posten also doubts that the West has the better economic system: "The global crisis is forcing us to revise the capitalist model, because financial institutions that are not subjected to adequate supervision have plunged the US and Europe into a crisis so deep that it may take decades for the economy to recover. The economic crisis has become a political one too, because there is a lack of leadership. Meanwhile the crisis is beginning to weaken democracy. It is undermining the voters' trust in politicians who believe it can be solved by suspending certain politicians and replacing them with technocrats. ... The crisis of capitalism in the West is causing people to look to Asia. The interventionist economic model there has often been criticised by the West, but the economy there is booming. ... The capitalist idea is not dead, and Asia, too, needs it. But if it is to survive a revision is necessary - and above all a visible leadership." (26/01/2012)

De Morgen - Belgium

The silly circus of high finance

The Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo has come under attack in his own country for his absence from the World Economic Forum in Davos. But in the left-liberal daily De Morgen columnist Hugo Camps defends the prime minister's decision: "Davos - for me that sounds too much like a Mongégasque 'Bal de la Rose' of high finance. A ritual, a myth. ... The new potatoes are cooked, the turbot has been grilled to perfection, the tiramisu tastes heavenly - and that's the least you can expect for an admission charge of 35,000 euros. But will we be living in a different world after Davos? Free from the spectre of recession? Will capitalism have been made fit for the 21st century? Not a chance. That would require the help of the Chinese, the Brazilians and the Russians, and they're not there because they are allergic to excessive scholarliness, as true capitalists should be. Do we hear the broad middle in Davos? The counteracting forces of globalisation? ... Nope, it's just a slick trade fair." (26/01/2012)

The Times - United Kingdom

Economy better off thanks to the ECB

The major topics at the World Economic Forum are the collapse of several EU states and the possible failure of the euro, but the prospects for Europe are by no means as dismal as just a few weeks ago, writes the conservative daily The Times: "Why? Not because of the political leaders, who continue to be torn between the desire for greater union and the fear of being punished by their voters in upcoming elections, but because of action by the European Central Bank. In December, the ECB began offering unlimited three-year loans to banks that were facing an imminent credit crunch. Its three-year long-term financing operation (LTFO) is injecting €489 billion of liquidity into a system that had almost frozen up. This operation - on a similar scale to Tarp (Troubled Asset Relief Program) in America in 2008 - is allowing banks to meet their short-term needs and also to maintain domestic lending to consumers and businesses." (26/01/2012)


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Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

Obama's campaign takes up class struggle

In his traditional state of the Nation address on Tuesday, US President Barak Obama embarked on a clear course of confrontation with his Republican rivals. This sets the tone for the coming election campaign, the liberal-conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung writes: "The Obama who is now making a bid for a second term in office is not the same as he was one - never mind four - years ago. Back then the young senator presented himself as a bridge builder, a beacon of hope who would attenuate the old antagonisms between the parties. Like all those who have gone before him, Obama failed in this attempt. Be that as it may, in last year's 'State of the Union' address he nevertheless presented several ideals that seemed of interest to Republicans. Such a move can be read as an attempt to swing back to the political middle in time for the elections, as is common for incumbents. But that's all over with now. Obama has adopted a confrontational style with undertones of class struggle and a stockpile of arguments that will no doubt shape the character of the election battle until November." (26/01/2012)

Gândul - Romania

Băsescu faking closeness to people

In an address to the nation on Wednesday Romania's President Traian Băsescu for the first time took a stance on the anti-government protests that have gone on for nearly two weeks. He announced his intention of improving communication with the citizens but refused to step down. The daily Gândul was not entirely convinced by his performance, "because it's difficult to imagine that the bond of trust Traian Băsescu talks of can be restored. After all, he's selling the same product, the same changes, and says 'I am the same man I always was'. ... He has approached civil society only out of necessity. When did he discover that it existed? The only thing he said about himself was that he wanted to reduce the number of mistakes he makes in future. And he invoked the community again and again. Only together can the nation overcome the crisis. But in the meantime the nation has turned into a population of lonely survivors. Because it had no choice." (26/01/2012)

Delo - Slovenia

Slovenia's new premier must cooperate

In Slovenia, the leaders of the five coalition parties signed a coalition agreement on Wednesday for the formation of a centre-right government. The conservative opposition leader Janez Janša has been appointed as prime minister. This time he will include more political players in his government than he did during his first term in office, the daily Delo suspects: "Janša has even invited the trade unions to engage in dialogue. ... The situation required broad cooperation, Janša explained. Or in other words: the future government will be forced to adopt unpopular measures that perhaps won't have the desired effect. Slovenia will fare even worse (economically) and the government and prime minister don't want to shoulder the blame for a potential failure alone. This is also how Janša's second message is to be understood: a coalition of equal partners has emerged who all assume the same amount of responsibility. ... But this makes misunderstandings within the new ruling coalition inevitable." (26/01/2012)

Ethnos - Greece

Troika conditions unknown to Athens ministers

Greece's Minister for Development, Competitiveness and Shipping, Michalis Chrisochoidis, admitted in an interview on Tuesday that he is completely unfamiliar with the austerity requirements imposed by the Troika on Greece because he hasn't read the agreement. Chrysochoidis is unfortunately no isolated case, writes the left-liberal daily To Ethnos, and criticises the irresponsibility of many members of government: "Our country's biggest political tragedy is also demonstrated by a further admission, this time by ex-finance minister Louka Katseli. ... She said that before the first vote [in 2010] she only had three hours (!!!) to study the agreement. Ministers and members of parliament who don't know what they're voting on and who evidently don't care to find out are not only useless and incompetent, but also dangerous. Dangerous both for the country and for our democracy. And from the people's perspective they undermine the credibility of the democratic system." (25/01/2012)

La Vanguardia - Spain

Acquitted but finished politically

The ex-prime minister of the Spanish region of Valencia, Francisco Camps, who was forced to resign amidst allegations of corruption shortly after his re-election in 2011, was acquitted by a jury on Wednesday. However the embarrassing details that were revealed during the course of the trial will put an end to his political career, the daily La Vanguardia comments: "The acquittal came after 26 long days of trial in which the testimonies of a succession of witnesses and experts were heard that all appeared to point unequivocally to Camp's being guilty. But the majority of the members of the jury didn't see it this way. Consequently Camps has been acquitted by the very people he appealed to and who re-elected him by an absolute majority in the midst of the corruption scandal. But because of the resignation he was forced to tender as well as his behaviour during the trial the former prime minister of Valencia can basically forget any ideas about continuing his career in politics." (26/01/2012)


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Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

Japan's decline a warning to Germany

For the first time in 31 years Japan imported more goods than it exported in 2011. Japan should be a warning to Germany of how quickly an economy can sink, writes the left-liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung: "One reason for this first gap in the balance of trade is of course the nuclear accident at Fukushima. ... But a prolonged downward trend is the main explanation for this surprising swing into the minus zone. There are a number of reasons for it: the decades of LDP party rule in Tokyo have crippled the country and preserved outdated economic structures. After the stock bubble the policymakers no longer dared to touch the ailing banks. And the record debt of more than 200 percent of GDP puts an enormous burden of interest on the country. So what can we expect now? Well for example that there should be another change in government soon, ... that politics should regulate the financial institutes, and that Germany urgently needs to stop the explosive rise in its sovereign debt caused by the financial crisis." (26/01/2012)

The Irish Independent - Ireland

Cutbacks won't help indebted Irish

According to a report on global debt published by consulting firm McKinsey, Ireland is the country with the largest amount of private debt. Irish households are burdened with two and a half times as much debt as Greek households. The debtors should declare their insolvency, the economics expert David McWilliams urges in the conservative daily the Irish Independent: "The implication of this figure is that the Irish economy has to grow six times faster than the interest rate charged on this debt in order for the overall debt burden to remain stable. Assuming that the rate of interest - even with all the negotiations - is 4 percent. This means that the Irish economy would have to grow by 24 percent next year, just to ensure that the debt/GDP ratio stays stable. There are two ways you can get out of debt. One is that you can work your way out over years and years. This is the 'right' thing to do. But sometimes, when the weight of debt is just too heavy, it is impossible." (26/01/2012)


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Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland

Polanski film no Smolenski drama

The new film by Roman Polanski, the tragicomic chamber piece Carnage hit the screens in Poland last week. In his review of the film the critic Marcin Kuberka drew comparisons between the protagonists - two bickering married couples - and Poles who shed doubts on the official report about the Smolensk disaster. The liberal daily Gazeta Wybrocza finds this preposterous: "At the end of his review the critic, who is presented as a screenwriter and film connoisseur, asks the basic question: 'What does this film tell us? That there can be no reconciliation without truth - despite the pro-Russian propaganda disseminated in the Polish and Russia media after April 10.' Only naive audiences will believe they are seeing nothing more here than the bitter conflicts between two married couples. The film distribution company should send Marcin Kuberka a big bouquet of flowers. After his review all the supporters of the [national conservative party] PiS will feel obliged to go and see this film." (26/01/2012)


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Público - Portugal

Portugal's president not credible

In demonstrations all over the country the Portuguese have demanded the resignation of President Aníbal Cavaco Silva this week, and there are videos circulating on the Internet making fun of his grumbling about the meagre presidential pension. Cavaco Silva himself has admitted that his comment made in an interview was a communication mistake, but this doesn't correct the problem, writes the daily Público: "He wasn't able to avoid continuing to be the number one topic on the streets and in cafés. What can the president do to restore his seriously damaged credibility? We should first remember that on the face of it it is absurd to demand the resignation of the president because of one clumsy sentence. ... But Cavaco Silva alone is to blame. Because in his crazy attempt to move closer to the people he broke a taboo. ... The citizens react highly sensitively to the words of politicians, and it's easy to understand why. In the midst of this unprecedented crisis it takes just one wrong word to ignite the country." (25/01/2012)

Monitor - Bulgaria

Pardoned murderers threaten Bulgaria

According to the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice, Vice President Angel Marin, who stepped down on Sunday, pardoned 533 prison inmates in the past year alone, many of them dangerous criminals. Over 150 of them were doing time for murder. The pro-government daily Monitor demands an explanation: "This huge gang of killers on the loose constitutes a serious threat to the state. As long as they are free to roam among us, we needn't be surprised at the many cases of arson, violent killings and robberies we've been seeing in recent times. ... It is clear from the announcement that those pardoned not only represent a threat to the families of their victims, but are also liable to commit even more gruesome crimes. With his brazen impudence, Marin has made a mockery of the work of thousands of policemen and officials of justice. He must be called to account and punished for his deeds." (26/01/2012)

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