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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 16/04/2012

 

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Sarkozy endangers French-German axis

Sarkozy is behind his rival Hollande in the polls. (©AP)

 

Speaking to tens of thousands of supporters on Sunday in Paris, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for the ECB to assume a stronger role in the euro crisis, thus distancing himself from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Sarkozy has simply adopted the ideas of his opponent François Hollande, commentators criticise, and fear that German-French relations will be harmed if he is re-elected.

Libération - France

President lacks a clear message

After weeks of campaigning Sarkozy's message is still completely unclear, writes the daily Libération: "Regarding form, until now the campaign has been brutal and not particularly clever. Regarding content, strangely enough as the weeks go by Sarkozy's political line has become increasingly incomprehensible. Already torn between the centre and the political extremes, he now draws on the theses of his adversary. ... For example making both austerity and a growth-driven economic recovery central to the plans of the European Union. After ridiculing the idea as a pathetic example of the Socialist's [Hollande's] dangerous lack of international experience, Nicolas Sarkozy is now its most ardent defender. Less than a week from the first round, the Right still doesn't know what it wants to say to the people of France." (15/04/2012)

De Tijd - Belgium

Danger for Europe's engine

With his call for the European Central Bank (ECB) to play a stronger role in the euro crisis Sarkozy is distancing himself dangerously from Germany's position, the business paper De Tijd warns: "In the event of Sarkozy winning a second term in office the close-knit Berlin-Paris axis will break up. ... Sarkozy is of course having to contend with weak growth and high unemployment. The famed German model doesn't work in France. But the French president's claim that the ECB has done nothing to resolve the euro crisis is too simplistic. ... [The socialist presidential candidate] Hollande also wants to tackle 'the way the ECB intervenes'. When he presented his proposals two weeks ago Sarkozy swept them from the table. Now the two gentlemen seem to be taking the same line. For the Eurozone this means that the Franco-German engine will not just splutter, but threatens to come to a complete standstill." (16/04/2012)

La Repubblica - Italy

Hollande has not won yet

In a campaign speech on Sunday, the Socialist candidate for the French presidency, François Hollande, said he was confident he would win the electoral race. But he shouldn't be so sure, writes the left-liberal daily La Repubblica, because many voters may refrain from casting their ballots: "Almost a third of eligible voters have said they would stay away from the polls. The reason: they don't trust politicians. ... But another reason why less convinced voters on the Left may abstain from voting could be the supposedly sure win for the Hollande camp. They believe it's not even necessary to go to the polls because Hollande will win no matter what, thanks above all to Sarkozy. Because with his enormous unpopularity Sarkozy has become Hollande's biggest helper." (16/04/2012)

POLITICS

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Göteborgs-Posten - Sweden

Breivik trial must strengthen democracy

The trial against Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people last summer in Norway, begins in Oslo today, Monday. But it should not be allowed to degenerate into a media circus, the liberal daily Göteborgs-Posten demands: It's important that the trial against mass murderer Breivik is conducted in a dignified manner and doesn't turn into any kind of spectacle. ... It's important that democracy and the rule of law prevail, even when it comes to dealing with the worst enemies of democracy and the rule of law. Against this backdrop the painful and lengthy trial is necessary. ... Democracy is something that needs to be fought for every day - a truth that must apply not least in the Breivik case." (16/04/2012)

Le Nouvel Observateur - France

Hypocritical UN observer mission in Syria

The UN Security Council on Saturday unanimously passed a resolution to send unarmed observers to Syria to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire. This mission is nothing more than an alibi for the West, the left-liberal weekly Le Nouvel Observateur writes disparagingly: "Thirty miserable civilian observers, in anticipation of the arrival of a small contingent of 'blue helmets' - they too unarmed.  They are tasked with monitoring throughout the country the fragile ceasefire, established in line with the peace plan thought up by Kofi Annan, between a desperate population and a heavily armed army. ... More concerned than perplexed, we must ask the extremely serious question: just who is the butt of this revolting and hypocritical joke, the sole aim of which is apparently to serve as an alibi for washing clean the dirty hands - as Sartre put it in his eponymous play - of our most cowardly West?" (15/04/2012)

15min - Lithuania

Lithuanian president hurts her country

Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaitė last week cancelled her participation in a regional meeting of the heads of state of the Baltic countries and Poland in Warsaw scheduled to take place in preparation for the Nato summit in Chicago. The news portal 15min is appalled that the presidential office has given no reason for the decision: "Is it sensible to isolate oneself in this way? Is this the position of the Lithuanian state? If so, who made the decision? Did the president talk about this with the foreign minister or the prime minister? … The only person Grybauskaitė consulted was herself. Like back [in April 2010] when she refused to meet US President Obama in Prague. … What was she thinking? ... What does this leave Lithuania looking like? Like a land of illiterates who think they're something special, where European rules of conduct don't apply? - Kiss our …!" (16/04/2012)

Die Presse - Austria

Same old intrigues in Egypt

The Egyptian electoral commission excluded 10 of the 23 candidates for the presidential election to be held in May, including the former secret service chief Omar Suleiman. The liberal-conservative daily Die Presse sees this as a typical example of scheming in the country: "The Egyptians are well acquainted with disqualifications; they were typical of the Mubarak regime's foul play. This massive intervention by the electoral commission - why were the candidates allowed to register in the place? - is less reminiscent of a budding democracy than of Iran, where this strategy has developed into an art. The Suleiman case is the simplest: it's understandable that leading representatives of a dictatorship should be excluded from the elections - but that the corresponding law is not yet in effect is less understandable. As so often in post-revolutionary Egypt, this dramatic start to the election will spur many conspiracy theories and shaky facts. The one thing that's clear: the pharaoh may be gone but the intrigues that have been practised on the Nile for thousands of years are in full swing." (16/04/2012)

REFLECTIONS

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Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

Barry Eichengreen calls for ECB to be more active

With the problems arising from Spain and Italy's sovereign debt, the euro crisis has reignited. US economist Barry Eichengreen recommends that the European Central Bank (ECB) respond by intervening yet again: "The hurdles to further monetary-policy action are high, but they are largely self-imposed. ... The ECB is preoccupied by moral-hazard risk - the idea that supporting spending will relieve the pressure on governments to act. But it should also worry about meltdown risk - about the danger that its own failure to act, by leading to a deep recession, will undermine political leaders' ability to take the steps needed to put their economies on a sound footing. The ECB will object, not without reason, that monetary policy is a blunt instrument with which to rebalance the European economy. ... But, without economic growth, the political will to take hard measures at the national level is unlikely to be forthcoming. Without support from the ECB, both goals - economic recovery and political leaders' commitment to structural reform - will remain purely aspirational." (15/04/2012)

Der Spiegel - Germany

Dirk Kurbjuweit on the need to control the Internet

The Internet freedom championed by the Pirate Party in Germany could turn out to be a new school of barbarism, warns Dirk Kurbjuweit in the weekly magazine Der Spiegel: "Total freedom on the Internet encourages violent excesses and abnormal sexuality. That goes right to the core of society because both areas are still laden with taboos, and rightly so. There must be thresholds to counter the destruction of people. You've got to talk about 'first person shooter' games and consider the possibility of banning them because they could make people more brutal. ... A further example for the brutalisation of humanity is the storms of aggressive to menacing criticism on the Internet. This involves a realm of punishment outside the legal system. It is a vigilante justice, and for the most part anonymous. ... The Internet is slowly starting to exercise an intolerable control over public discourse. ... We don't need a brave new world. It was difficult enough to halfway civilise the one we have. ... The claim of philosopher Karl Popper is still entirely valid: 'Unlimited freedom leads to its opposite, since without its protection and restriction by law, freedom must lead to a tyranny of the strong over the weak.'" (15/04/2012)

SOCIETY

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La Vanguardia - Spain

Spaniards' criticism of their king unwarranted

The Spanish King, Juan Carlos I, fell and fractured his hip during a safari in Botswana on Friday. Until this incident the Spanish public was unaware that he was on an elephant hunt. But the Spanish people shouldn't be too harsh with their criticism of the king, warns the pro-monarchist daily La Vanguardia: At at time when the institutions are coming in for a lot of criticism the monarch's elephant hunting trip in Botswana has fuelled disparaging comments that tarnish the royal institution. Anyone who listens to the talk on the street will realise straight away what a gaffe the whole affair is. But the monarch's attitude in his capacity as head of state should not be evaluated on the basis of this incident, as head of government Mariano Rajoy has quite rightly pointed out. … In the past three decades the monarchy has developed into an institution that is enormously useful to the Spanish. We can only hope that it remains so in future." (16/04/2012)

Novinar - Bulgaria

Bulgarians selling their children

The Italian police smashed a baby trafficking ring from Bulgaria last week. Bulgarian women have systematically been brought to Naples to give birth to their children there, which were then sold for up to 20,000 euros. For columnist Tanya Kalinova of the daily Novinar this is a deplorable sign of the materialism of our times: "I was already shocked to read that a Chinese man had sold one of his kidneys to buy himself an iPhone and an iPad. But I can accept that because every individual has the right to do what he wants with his own body. But the coldness it must take to sell one's own baby subverts my whole system of values. I naively believed that people were created to be loved and objects were produced to be used. However one of the great ills of our time is that on the contrary people are used and objects are loved." (12/04/2012)

The Guardian - United Kingdom

ECHR allows anti-incest law

The European Court of Human Rights last week rejected the appeal of  Patrick Stübing, a German who was given a prison sentence for committing incest with his sister. The court ruled that the German law against incest was right and legal. But the left-liberal daily The Guardian points out that individual states are not entirely free to act as they please in such cases: "The court was not really asked to say if a law against incest is a good thing. It had to decide if the state is allowed to make such a law. That is a different question. ...there must be limits. What if a state banned interracial marriages or allowed slavery? In its own time, that too has been hailed as a 'moral' choice. And Strasbourg does acknowledge that the 'margin of discretion' given to individual states cannot be without restrictions - it goes 'hand in hand with a European supervision'. Then again: why is European supervision appropriate in some cases, but not where the law puts a man in prison because he slept with his sister?" (16/04/2012)

MEDIA

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Iltalehti - Finland

Finland's new TV tax is antisocial

In Finland the TV licence fees of 250 euros a year currently paid by each household with a television will be replaced by a charge per individual next year. Because this will make having a television more expensive for many people, the tabloid Iltalehti calls for the Finnish public broadcaster Yleisradio (Yle) to receive direct financing from the state: "The politicians hoped the Yle tax would bring social relief. [Communications Minister] Kiuru admitted that this was difficult. In practice it would have led to more bureaucracy and lower incomes. … Direct financing from the budget would eliminate all these problems. … Above all one must ask how Yle is using the money. The public broadcaster is naturally obliged to disseminate information and preserve the national culture. Good quality entertainment can be part of the service, but the nonsense and commercial sport programmes should be left to the private broadcasters."     (16/04/2012)

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