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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 11/05/2012

 

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Hope for new government in Greece

Pasok leader Venizelos is still trying to find coalition partners. (© AP/dapd)

 

The Democratic Left party in Greece has signalled its willingness to enter a coalition with Pasok and Nea Dimokratia during preliminary discussions. The parties all agree that the country should remain in the Eurozone. While some commentators welcome the consensus, others see a Greek exit as the better solution.

NRC Handelsblad - Netherlands

Euro exit tough for Europe

The impact of Greece exiting the Eurozone would be virtually immeasurable and could ultimately affect taxpayers, warns the liberal daily NRC Handelsblad: "For Greece, where half of the electorate voted ruthlessly against Europe, exiting the Eurozone entails the risk of impoverishment the likes of which the country hasn't witnessed in four decades. But the reckless behaviour of Athens' politicians, always polarising and isolating their country, also affects Europe. … A euro exit would cost the European Central Bank roughly 30 billion in write-offs; the total amount is incalculable. Also the fact that the major banks would be spared since they hardly have any Greek bonds on their balance sheets doesn't mean much. Via the EFSF the bill can still be passed on to the nation states and ultimately to European taxpayers. Then there's the risk of a domino effect, especially for Spain. … This is all cause for major concern." (11/05/2012)

Protagon.gr - Greece

Renegotiate austerity

Greece must remain in the Eurozone and reach a new agreement with its creditors, writes economist Giannis Varoufakis on web portal Protagon: "Whether we like it or not, Greece's fate is inextricably entwined with that of the rest of the Eurozone. If we act like we can get along on our own, without Europe's help, we will create a situation that destroys all hope that our voice against the austerity measures will lead to something good. This is the situation: on the one hand it is impossible to comply with the terms of the austerity package. … On the other it's just as impossible for us to finance the development and reform policy needed to get out of the crisis. So what can we do? There's just one solution and it is laden with difficulties: we must renegotiate the terms of the austerity agreement between Greece and its creditors - as a member of the Eurozone." (10/05/2012)

Público - Portugal

The euro is a destructive utopia

The problems of the Monetary Union prove that the euro is a utopia that could end up destroying Europe, the daily newspaper Público argues: "For too long we in Europe have believed that problems could be solved by simply sweeping them under the carpet like a lazy housewife. … This week has shown that a collapse of the Monetary Union can't be excluded. … It's not possible to have a common currency without a common government. The current tensions are a direct consequence of this institutional failure. This realisation should prompt the decision-makers to question the viability of the euro. So far all they have done is tried to patch up the problems with a house that is falling apart and proposed unrealistic federalist solutions. The fiscal compact guarantees nothing; the growth programme is pure rhetoric. Europe has been destroyed several times by utopias. The euro appears to be the most recent of these." (11/05/2012)

The Economist - United Kingdom

Exit soon inevitable

A Greek exit from the Eurozone entails opportunities and risks, both for Greece and for the rest of the euro countries, the liberal weekly magazine The Economist writes: "An exit, and the ensuing default, would lighten its debt, re-establish competitiveness and challenge its politicians to grasp their own destiny. Yet leaving the euro would also create chaos and destroy savings and, as often in the past, its advantages might rapidly inflate away. The rest of the euro zone is also better off with Greece 'in', if only because of the risk of contagion (and the inadequate preparations for that). But again, not at any price. If Greece rejects the second bail-out or falls drastically behind in its programme, its exit could become inevitable." (11/05/2012)

POLITICS

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Corriere del Ticino - Switzerland

Transfer union or get rid of euro

In the aftermath of the elections in France and Greece the debate over the future of the Eurozone has intensified. There are now only two options left: either the Monetary Union collapses or the Eurozone becomes a transfer union, writes the liberal daily Corriere del Ticino: "Europe is at a dead end. The euro crisis can't be resolved with half-hearted measures that merely buy time. Such temporary cures grow more and more expensive and have less and less impact. Europe is facing a choice: either it decides to become a transfer union, an option Germany is fighting against tooth and nail, or it prepares for the dissolution of the Monetary Union, which as long as it is done in an orderly manner needn't be catastrophic. The growing opposition of the citizens to which the recent elections testify doesn't admit another delay. On the contrary, it demands a decision from the European governments." (11/05/2012)

Corriere della Sera - Italy

West powerless in Syria

After a bomb attack that left at least 70 dead in the Syrian capital of Damascus on Thursday, the UN Security Council has called for the implementation of special envoy Kofí Annan's peace plan. But this appeal only highlights the West's impotence, the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera writes: "Can we hide behind Annan's peace plan? Despite all the good intentions the plan has failed and there are only two options left: either to give up silently or, as Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan has demanded, to deploy thousands of UN peacekeeping soldiers to Syria with a UN mandate, as was done in Libya. But Russia and China won't approve the deployment of UN troops and it would without doubt be the first step towards a new war. This explains the West's powerlessness. But Bashar al-Assad and other potential authors of yesterday's attacks should not underestimate the power of the blood-soaked images. It wouldn't be the first time such horrors made possible tomorrow what seems impossible today." (11/05/2012)

Libération - France

Obama and Hollande for same-sex marriage

Barack Obama became the first US president to speak out in favour of same-sex marriage on Wednesday and the new French President François Hollande also advocates the legalisation of such marriages. The left-liberal daily Libération praises the two politicians: "By supporting same-sex marriage in his very conservative and religious country Barack Obama has demonstrated his courage once more. Just like François Hollande, who has upheld this promise by his party. In France as in the US it will be easier to be gay: for the young and for those who have been mocked or scorned and who are afraid to express their sexuality. The president, whether American or French, can make history and change society this way." (11/05/2012)

Adevârul - Romania

Bucharest must respect Hungarian minority

The Hungarian Federation in Romania, the UDMR, is unhappy that the programme of the left-liberal alliance USL makes no reference to the Hungarian minority. Minority policy must not be neglected, warns the daily Adevărul: "The government has already put the establishment of a Hungarian-language faculty at Târgu-Mureş University on ice. In addition, various 'unfriendly' statements by members of the government have been directed at the Hungarians. This does not bode well. UDMR's participation in the government in recent years has brought about political stability, but it has also minimised the potential for ethnic conflict. Now of all times, when our Hungarian neighbours have slipped into a nationalistic discourse, it is diplomatically clumsy for [Prime Minister] Victor Ponta to 'forget' the minorities. If he hasn't managed to gain the support of the UDMR, that's one thing. But he should at least not alienate it altogether. ... In addition: making no mention of minorities in the government programme isn't exactly the best way to get Europe's blessing, either." (11/05/2012)

Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

Putin badly in need of a success

After letting it be known that he would not attend the Nato summit in Chicago, Russian President Vladimir Putin has also cancelled his participation at the G8 meeting in Camp David. An indication of the tense mood in the country, writes the left-liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung: "Ever since Putin announced his candidacy for a third term as president in October, tens of thousands of protesters have repeatedly demonstrated for fair elections. The protests have now abated, although since Putin's inauguration hundreds of opposition members have once more started protesting and playing cops and robbers with the special police forces. And many less courageous citizens also share their view that this rule is not legitimate. The images of Russia's bright future that Putin paints in his speeches are consistently contradicted by catastrophic news from the real world. ... Putin must soon deliver, before the impression is conveyed that he only shows himself for staged appearances to make pie-in-the-sky promises. In any event, he won't be able to play the strongman at the G8 summit." (11/05/2012)

ECONOMY

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Die Presse - Austria

Savers to pay for European sovereign debt

Germany's Bundesbank indicated for the first time on Thursday that it would accept higher inflation rates because of the European debt crisis. But what this really means is that people with savings would foot the bill for the public debt, writes the liberal-conservative daily Die Presse: "If Europe's central banks loosen the inflation leash it's clear who will pay for the crisis: savers and bondholders. And who will profit: creditors of all kinds, but mostly the state. Whereby one shouldn't be soothed by appeasing phrases such as 'a little inflation': the expropriating effect of inflation is enormous even at unspectacular rates. Over five years, a real inflation of six percent, for example, decreases the value of a thousand euros to 747 euros, and over ten years to just 558 euros, and of course the real value of a thousand euros of public debt too. So it's not hard to guess what form the revitalisation of the economy will really take." (11/05/2012)

Vilniaus diena - Lithuania

EU can get cheaper oil and gas

The EU countries mostly negotiate import prices for energy resources like oil and gas on an individual basis. But together they could get a better deal, writes Karolis Urbonas, director of the institute Social Dynamics International, in the online edition of the daily Vilniaus diena: "Energy raw materials make up the largest part of EU imports. Currently however each state negotiates prices on its own with their 'colleagues' to the east. Exporters are scared by the idea of an EU with a common position and opinion. ... If the EU were to negotiate as a group it would only strengthen its position at the negotiating table. And that could not only lower the energy prices and the volume of imports, but also give a much-needed boost to curbing the craziness we are now seeing in global energy prices." (10/05/2012)

SOCIETY

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Rzeczpospolita - Poland

Sexual violence is a private matter

Poland's ruling party the PO presented a draft law on Thursday that foresees automatic criminal prosecution in cases of rape. Up to now prosecutors launch an investigation only when the victim brings charges against the perpetrator. The conservative daily Rzeczpospolita sees the proposed amendment as a mistake: "The authors of the [old] penal code had just reached the conclusion that the area of erotic affairs is a very specific element of human life. Here the tensions have dimensions that don't exist in other areas of life. It's an area in which people (of both sexes) can behave radically differently to how they normally behave. ... Common sense dictates that a lot of what goes on between people in this area is pretty much one of life's grey zones. One in which society and the state should intervene as little as possible." (11/05/2012)

Svobodata - Bulgaria

Mafia bosses escape incompetent justice

The Bulgarian mafia bosses Plamen Galev and Angel Hristov have disappeared without a trace after they were both sentenced in absentia to five years in prison on May 3. They are reported to have fled to South Africa with 20 million euros in cash. Bulgaria's justice system has lost the trust of the EU and its citizens, the opinion portal Svobodata comments: "The two should have been locked away straight after the sentence was pronounced. There's no room for excuses. ... These are no petty criminals but sit right at the top of the mafia hierarchy. Moreover their trials were not just under EU observation but where a major opportunity for establishing the Bulgarians' trust in their judiciary and in the security services. What normal citizen is going to trust the police, the public prosecutors or the compassionate Bulgarian judges now? ... The whole thing is a farce and throws a bad light on all the people and institutions involved." (10/05/2012)

MEDIA

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Dagens Nyheter - Sweden

Sweden's journalists not self-critical enough

According to a study by the University of Gothenburg, many of Sweden's journalists have close ties with the left-wing camp, in sharp contrast to the general population. Several chief editors have indignantly denied that this produces biased reporting, provoking the criticism of the liberal daily Dagens Nyheter: "Studies like these are a friend to this profession, not a foe. Journalists mustn't and can't precisely reflect the distribution of seats in parliament. But just as with membership of a class, gender or ethnic group, it's dangerous when editing teams become a bubble of political unity and mutual back-patting. The first important step is to acknowledge the problem, analyse it and discuss it. To deny it indignantly doesn't exactly boost confidence in us journalists." (11/05/2012)

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