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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 27/01/2012

 

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Iran to boycott EU

President Ahmadinjad prefers to sell the oil to other countries. (© dapd)

 

Tehran is planning to pre-empt the EU's decision to boycott Iranian oil with an immediate ban on oil shipments to Europe. A bill to that effect is to be presented to the Iranian parliament on Sunday. The gambit will work in the regime's favour, commentators write, and lament the futility of the embargo.

Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

Tehran is pulling the strings

Iran's plan to retaliate by stopping oil sales to Europe is a profitable move, writes the business paper Il Sole 24 Ore: "The real referees in the oil battle are the markets. Because it is there, behind the scenes of the governments in question, that the real battle is taking place. Tehran's threat to forestall Brussels and stop oil exports is aimed at driving up oil prices. The Iranians will sell the oil at a low price to the Chinese, who will then resell it on the market at a considerable profit. Others will follow China's example. This is how Iraq got around the embargo ten years ago. Iran has more allies than is generally assumed. The Afghan President Hamid Karzai defended Tehran vigorously during his state visit to Italy [on Wednesday]. It is quite possible that Kabul is counting on Tehran's help to sabotage the negotiations with the Taliban that the US is pushing for. We can be pretty sure that Iranian oil will flow through Afghanistan before the eyes of our soldiers. This is the way of the world - and it diverges considerably from the path charted out by the increasingly useless international agreements." (27/01/2012)

Financial Times Deutschland - Germany

Oil embargo only hurts the people

Regardless of which side is the first to stop the oil trading, it will be the people of Iran who suffer rather than the country's nuclear programme, the liberal business paper Financial Times Deutschland points out: "As soon as the government lacks part of its oil revenues, there will be cuts in every sector. Not only teachers, doctors and the public sector are paid from the state treasury: a large part of the Iranian economy is comprised of state enterprises, meaning their employees will also no longer be able to count on regular pay cheques. … Iraq has also survived sanctions for years without the regime buckling under the pressure. A whole generation of Iraqis grew up undernourished and poorly cared for. If the decision makers in Berlin, Brussels and Washington see no alternative to imposing strict sanctions on Iran, they should at least be honest and not deny the consequences. The price will be paid by the Iranian people." (27/01/2012)

Blog Oil Man - France

Iran's rulers are unpredictable

The reaction of the Iranian regime to the oil embargo is further escalating the conflict with Europe, Matthieu Auzanneau concludes on his blog Oil Man: "Iran can block (at least temporarily) the Strait of Hormuz, that vital artery of the global economy through which a fifth of the world's crude oil passes. The European embargo has made this possibility somewhat more likely. A battle of honour may seem an attractive option to the rulers of the Islamic Republic of Iran if they feel cornered by sanctions from the West and a new popular revolt at the same time. However such a revolt seems unlikely at the moment in view of the terrible crushing of the 2009 demonstrations." (27/01/2012)

POLITICS

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NRC Handelsblad - Netherlands

Putin puts rival out of running

The Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation has effectively excluded the liberal politician Grigory Yavlinsky of the opposition party Jabloko from the Russian presidential elections slated for March 4, saying he lacked enough supporters to be registered as a candidate. This smacks of political tyranny aimed at securing a victory for Vladimir Putin in the first round of the elections, the liberal daily NRC Handelsblad comments: "Yavlinsky may have no chance of becoming president but he offers young voters the chance of a protest vote. Putin hopes that without Yavlinsky this new middle class will stay at home. That would be a double bonus because he could then claim their votes for his own using fraud tactics. But it is also a risky operation because since the rigged parliamentary elections in December the times of yes-sayers and apathy have come to an end. ... If Putin's opponents manage to keep closed ranks in the fight for honest elections, Yavlinsky's exclusion could actually backfire. ... A President Putin elected after just one round of voting would already be discredited." (27/01/2012)

Mladá fronta dnes - Czech Republic

Non-stop aid for Athens counterproductive

Private investors are currently negotiating with the government in Athens over a partial write-off of the country's debts, but the talks are faltering. A write-off of roughly 100 billion euros is the pre-condition for Greece receiving its second bailout from the IMF and euro states totalling 130 billion euros. The liberal daily Mladá fronta Dnes calls for a swift end to the country's suffering: "If Greece had gone bankrupt two years ago the Greeks would be better off now. And Europe would have money for other, more important cases. ... Now the tension is growing in Europe and it is not to be ruled out that Greece could collapse within a few days or weeks. Prolonging this agony is counterproductive. A Greek collapse would not be a catastrophe. In cooperation with the EU the situation could be stabilised very quickly, even before the start of the holiday season. Tourism is still Greece's most important source of revenue and will remain so for the foreseeable future." (27/01/2012)

La Razón - Spain

Spain must emulate Germany

Spain's government will adhere to its austerity targets, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy assured German Chancellor Angela Merkel during his first official visit to Berlin on Thursday. Backing Merkel's policies in this way  has more advantages than disadvantages, the conservative daily La Razón writes: "Merkel is under enormous pressure to change her policy. This would have certain advantages for the Spanish government, too. But it should not be used as an excuse for postponing the necessary reforms. Moreover we Spanish have an interest in allying ourselves with the Germans. Their reforms can serve as an example to us and they refuse to pursue a policy the consequences of which are only too familiar to us. ... As regards foreign policy the best way to return to the heart of Europe is to build up a stable and loyal relationship - not to say axis - with Germany." (27/01/2012)

Dagens Nyheter - Sweden

Sweden gets gutsy Social Democrat

The Swedish Social Democrats on Thursday nominated the unionist Stefan Löfven as chairman of the party. The fourth party leader in five years, he will have the task of leading the Swedish Social Democratic party out of its current crisis. Löfven will succeed Håkan Juholt, who resigned on Sunday after only ten months in office. The liberal daily Dagens Nyheter says this could make the opposition party stronger: "His plus is his personality: he is exactly what Håkan Juholt never was. Löfven has shown himself to be reflective, clever, cultured, pragmatic and good-natured. ... But - hugely important for a politician - he has also survived crises and shown he's got what it takes. ... In Löfven Sweden finally has the leader of the opposition it needs. And it's about time. No one benefits from the [governing] moderates having switched roles with the Social Democrats as the permanent ruling party." (27/01/2012)

REFLECTIONS

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Público - Portugal

Shahid Javed Burki on the power of the military in the Arab Spring

The revolutions of the Arab Spring will only be truly successful once the countries in question curtail the power of the military, writes Pakistani economist Shahid Javed Burki in the daily Público: "Since Islam's founding in the seventh century, it has maintained a tradition of strong military engagement in politics and governance. Indeed, Islam's increasing military prowess helped it to spread rapidly around the world. ... Today, the revolutions rocking much of the Muslim world are bedevilled by Islam's military past. In the first phase of these popular uprisings, those who had been politically and economically excluded began to demand inclusion and participation. Now a second phase is under way, marked by a serious effort to divest the old military establishment of its power. ... Since the Arab Spring began, four long-established regimes have been removed, while others are under increasing pressure, giving ordinary Arabs hope that their demands will no longer be ignored, and that those who govern will be mindful of citizens' needs. But that - the real revolution - will happen only when true representatives of citizens, rather than the military, begin to set their countries' political course." (26/01/2012)

ECONOMY

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Les Echos - France

EU sidelined without stock exchange merger

According to information released on Thursday the EU Commission wants to ban the merger between Deutsche Börse and NYSE Euronext. That would be a mistake, writes the business paper Les Echos: "Yet again the EU has followed the advice of its experts, who seek to prevent the emergence of a European giant capable of holding its own against major international competition. ... But this is a unique opportunity. If the project fails, the NYSE Euronext will try to extend its basis in other regions of the globe. That will have two consequences: firstly, Europe will be relegated once and for all to second place in this sector that controls the financial world. And secondly the Eurozone will lose its chance to create a financial centre that could serve as a counterweight to the City of London. It's high time the Commission shouldered its responsibility." (27/01/2012)

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

Sweden points the way out of euro crisis

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, British Prime Minister David Cameron has called for tempo and resolution in resolving the euro crisis. The liberal-conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung cites the Nordic Countries as models for socially compatible economic development: "At the start of the 1990s Sweden and Finland were over-sized welfare states beset by an economic and banking crisis just as severe as the one faced today by Europe's problem states. Today these countries are among the richest and most successful in Europe, without having sacrificed their social cohesion. ... The view that to be successful in the future Europe must be permanently reformable while ensuring a certain social cohesion has interesting implications: for example, that while economic prosperity may require success-oriented inequality, an overly large gap between the elite and the rest of the population will only harm growth. Or that burdening the middle class with ever-higher taxes is counter-productive." (27/01/2012)

Kurier - Austria

Apple's record profit paid for in blood

Thanks to enormous sales figures for its iPads and iPhones in the last three months Apple has posted the largest profit in the history of the company. But Apple also bears responsibility for the exploitative working conditions at some of its locations, the liberal daily Kurier points out: "The record profit has been paid for with blood. 'No more iSlaves', students in Hongkong in 2011 chanted protesting against the working conditions at Chinese Apple plants. Foxconn with its 1.2 million workforce is Apple's most notorious supplier, where there have been repeated cases of employees dying - voluntarily and involuntarily. ... Most people are not aware that many of the things that we cherish - we're talking about flat screen TVs, notebooks and co. here - are produced at Asian factories where there are no labour laws. It's time devices were tagged with labels not just telling us how little electricity they consume, but also that they come from factories where human rights and labour laws are taken seriously." (27/01/2012)

CULTURE

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To Vima Online - Greece

Angelopoulos helped Greeks discover themselves

The burial of the Greek filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos, who died in an accident on Tuesday while shooting his latest film, will take place in Athens today. His colleague Dimitris Danikas showers Angelopoulos with praise in the left-liberal daily To Vima: "He was the only Greek to receive the Golden Palm. The only Greek to win a Felix for Best European Film. The only Greek whose films are analysed in books and articles. And the only one to have a film, in his case The Travelling Players, named among the hundred best films of all time in Japan. ... His personal views set him apart from hundreds of good colleagues. ... He was self-assured, competent and devoted to his own world. For all of us this is the major lesson: to discover our own personality we must escape from uniformity, mediocrity and our own insignificant microcosm!" (26/01/2012)

MEDIA

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The Economist - United Kingdom

Google disempowers users

Starting March, the US Internet giant Google wants to collect all data generated by users in its various services. In addition company data protection provisions are to be standardised. The changes strip users of any control over their data, writes the business magazine The Economist: "There are other, unspoken reasons that Google is keen to make this change. By creating comprehensive profiles of users by combining crumbs of data they leave across its services, the firm is betting it can target more online ads at them more accurately. It also wants to position itself as a comprehensive online portal in order to compete more effectively with Facebook, which is soaking up an ever-increasing amount of web surfers' time. All this explains why Google is refusing to allow its users to opt out of the upcoming changes. Critics fret that this is a departure from its traditional habit of giving people power over their data (for instance, by letting them extract it easily from Google if they want to as part of the firm's 'data liberation' initiative)." (26/01/2012)

LOCAL COLOURS

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The Times - United Kingdom

Brits in pyjamas 24/7

A growing number of people in the UK, Ireland and the US appear in public dressed only in their pyjamas, prompting some social services, supermarkets and schools to introduce a pyjama ban. The conservative daily The Times looks into the reasons for the trend: "Why? Partly because rules of dress are now so relaxed that City bankers arrive at work on dress-down Fridays in outfits their fathers wouldn't have worn to fix the septic tank. Partly because Lady Gaga has stretched the concept of 'outdoor clothes' to include 'dress made of steak'. Partly because the increasing numbers who work from home don't bother to change out of their Spiderman pyjamas when they're spending all day in front of a laptop: as a result, there are home-workers who have been in pyjamas since 2008. Hugh Hefner, the ultimate home-worker, hasn't changed out of his trademark silk pyjamas since the Eisenhower Administration." (26/01/2012)

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