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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 09/08/2012

 

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Egypt attacks extremists on the Sinai

For the first time since the Yom Kippur War of 1973, the Sinai is once again the scene of fighting. (© AP/dapd)

 

The Egyptian army attacked covert militant Islamists on the Sinai Peninsula on Wednesday, killing several extremists by its own account. The operation was a reaction to Sunday's attack on the border between Egypt and Israel. The tense situation is forcing President Mohammed Mursi into an embarrassing cooperation with Israel, some commentators write. Others see the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel in danger.

De Volkskrant - Netherlands

Violence in Sinai menaces peace treaty

The tense situation on the Sinai Peninsula is a threat to the peace between Israel and Egypt and puts huge pressure on the new Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi, the left-liberal daily De Volkskrant writes: "The violence on the border could threaten the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. If attacks on the Israeli side follow and Egypt is unable to rein in the extremists, Israel itself may intervene. The presence of the jihadists is also putting additional strain on the already tense relations between the governing Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian army. The friendly ties between the Brotherhood and the Islamist Hamas in the Gaza Strip are gradually becoming an embarrassment for President Mursi. The burial of the 16 murdered border guards, which turned into a demonstration against him and his Muslim Brotherhood, sent him a message." (09/08/2012)

La Stampa - Italy

Mursi in a tight spot

In the battle against militant Islamists in the north of the Sinai Peninsula not even President Mohammed Mursi's steely resolve will eliminate the problem in Sinai, writes the liberal daily La Stampa: "Now that Mubarak's problematic legacy has pushed him into the trenches, Egypt's new President Mursi is showing his iron fist, but it's clear that the situation worries him. The first Islamist head of state of the Arab Republic of Egypt is in a predicament: he must fight an enemy who justifies his battle with the Koran and probably maintains relations with the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. But at the same time the situation is forcing him into an embarrassing but necessary collaboration with Israel. … Mursi may be able to manoeuvre his way out of this tight spot by presenting himself as the commander-in-chief. But this won't solve the Sinai problem because according to the Egyptian intelligence service around 2000 jihadists are active there." (09/08/2012)

Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

Egypt must stop agitators on the Sinai

Egypt must regain control over the Sinai Peninsula, the left-liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung urges: "After the fall of President Hosni Mubarak the region slipped out of Egypt's control, whose military admittedly can't operate as it would like to on the Peninsula. ... Jihadists on the Gaza Strip or from the local Beduin tribes are playing with fire in one of the most fragile regions in the world. What if they succeed - not with this attack, but perhaps with one yet to come - in pitting Egypt and Israel against one another? The Egyptians, exhausted by more than a year of post-revolutionary confusion, are already willing to suspect the worst of Israel. Nobody wants a war, but we've seen in the past how easily even calculated anti-Israeli outrage can get out of control. ... Egypt must reconquer the Sinai." (09/08/2012)

POLITICS

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Gândul - Romania

Ponta influencing Romanian Constitional Court

The president of the Romanian Constitutional Court, Augustin Zegrean, has written a letter to the EU complaining about massive interference by the socialist head of government Victor Ponta in the decisions of the court. The left-liberal daily Gândul criticises that the court is under the influence of political camps: "The Constitutional Court comes across as a group of nine judges who discuss matters in a lawful and dignified manner, but under the table they are busy giving each other nasty kicks. ... This is why many of the court's important decisions are ambiguous and controversial. ... When Traian Băsescu was to be deposed in 2007, there were also attacks against the court. At the time they came from Traian Băsescu and his PDL party because back then the PSD had a majority among the judges. ... Now the PDL has the majority when the judge nominated by the Democratic Union of Hungarians tacitly sides with it. No court should be politicised in this way, nor should its decisions be commented on."   (09/08/2012)

Nasz Dziennik - Poland

Polish politics discredits itself with Amber Gold

Michał Tusk, the son of Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, admitted on Sunday that he worked for the bankrupt airline OLT Express as a sideline. The owner of the airline, the financial services group Amber Gold, is currently under instigation by the financial authorities for allegedly having made unrealistic promises of profit. The involvement of Michal Tusk in the affair demonstrates how corrupt the Polish state has become, writes the national-Catholic daily Nasz Dziennik: "This pseudo bank which offers yields of 13 percent on gold placements invested in the airline OLT Express, which has just filed for bankruptcy. Amber Gold's clients are still waiting for their money. They probably won't see any of it again because the company's accounts have been frozen. ... Amber Gold took all steps to protect its interests and also employed the son of Prime Minister Donald Tusk. ... Such cases are increasingly diminishing people's trust in the institutions. And the state, which is oriented towards the [ruling party] Civic Platform, is becoming ever more alienated from society - even turning into its enemy." (09/08/2012)

Göteborgs-Posten - Sweden

Swedish teddies annoy Lukashenko

The Foreign Minister of Belarus on Wednesday announced that he is withdrawing his diplomats from Stockholm and called on the staff at the Swedish embassy in Belarus to leave the country by the end of the month. The row was sparked by a protest operation in July, when Swedish activists dropped hundreds of teddy bears containing calls for human rights improvements over Belarus from a small airplane. The operation achieved its goal, writes the liberal daily Göteborgs-Posten: "The Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko has once again shown his fickle attitude to international relations. Under pressure from the poor economic situation and EU sanctions he is behaving like a wounded bear. Lashing out aggressively is typical for a frustrated and paranoid dictator. ... Expelling diplomats is normally a measure reserved for serious situations. In the world of diplomacy closing down an embassy is tantamount to a declaration of war. Obviously the dictator was annoyed by Sweden's campaign for democracy. The fact that Sweden has fallen out of favour because of this can be taken as a compliment." (09/08/2012)

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

Sarkozy makes Hollande look bad

The former French president Nicolas Sarkozy called for resolute action from the international community regarding Syria. This first public statement since Sarkozy's election defeat in May 2012 heralds his return to politics and is an attack on his successor François Hollande, the liberal-conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung comments: "Firstly, after almost three months the statement put an end to the almost surreal silence that the once omnipresent Sarkozy imposed on himself after his defeat. ... Secondly, the initiative comes just a few days after Hollande left the business of politics behind him for holidays in southern France. Sarkozy's call exposes the inaction of his successor, who has said little to date on the massacres in Syria. Criticism of acting presidents by retired heads of state is unusual in France. Sarkozy wasn't afraid to lambaste former Socialist president François Mitterrand while campaigning. So it's no surprise that he's now the one to break with this tradition." (09/08/2012)

REFLECTIONS

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To Vima Online - Greece

Giorgos Malouchos criticises Berlin's dream of domination

Former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt said on Tuesday in a talk show that the Germans cannot lead Europe because of their Nazi past. In saying this Schmidt summed up Berlin's true ambitions, writes columnist Giorgos Malouchos in the left-liberal online paper To Vima: "Why is he trying to tell his own country to forget its dream of dominating Europe? For a single reason: This is precisely what Germany has been aiming for with its crisis management for almost three years now. ... It is highly likely that Schmidt's voice won't be heard. ... Many still entertain the illusion that Germany's policy of the last three years is financially motivated and follows the logic of 'putting things in order'. But Berlin is using the crisis to achieve what Helmut Schmidt referred to: European dominance. And this is also the reason why Berlin refuses to change its policy even though there is not the slightest doubt that it is leading us to disaster." (09/08/2012)

ECONOMY

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Večer - Slovenia

Slovenia's plight is home-made

Following in the footsteps of Standard & Poor's and Moody's, the rating agency Fitch also downgraded Slovenia's credit rating on Wednesday, bringing it down to just one notch above junk status. The conservative daily Večer is not surprised by the move. "If Slovenia does indeed become the sixth country to seek assistance from the EU bailout fund it only has itself to blame, not the speculators. At a time when the government is taking its 'well deserved' holiday, the yields on Slovenian bonds have again risen above the sustainable level of seven percent. This means that the country - which once dreamed of becoming a sub-Alpine Switzerland - is finding it increasingly difficult to access fresh credit. The government reacted with consternation and surprise to the news that the US rating agencies had lowered the credit rating of Slovenia and its three banks (NLB, NKBM and Abank). ... But the prostrate state of the banks is just one of our problems. The other is the general mood in the country - and that also influences the assessments of the rating agencies." (09/08/2012)

SOCIETY

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El Mundo - Spain

Protest stealing dangerous for Spain

The left-wing member of the Andalusian parliament Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo along with roughly 400 members of the Andalusian trade union SAT organised a protest shop-lifting operation at two supermarkets in southern Spain. The stolen staple foods were to be donated to an NGO in Seville that supplies poor people with food. The conservative daily El Mundo sees such protests as useless and dangerous: "It is abhorrent when the political representatives who are supposed to set a good example and defend the law call on people to disobey it. This is a serious matter. It sets a precedent that could prompt others to commit further offences. There are those who could use this approach as an excuse to channel social frustration and trigger riots. And the incident also conveys a false image of Spain as a third-world country. It's true that many Spaniards are in financial difficulties, but no one is dying of starvation in Spain. The social services continue to function and of course there are alternatives to breaking into shops and taking the merchandise by force." (09/08/2012)

Le Monde - France

Education helps combat sexual harassment

The Belgian film student Sofie Peeters has shot a film showing how women are harassed on the streets of Brussels, primarily by men of North African origin. The video has launched a public debate in Belgium. The protection of women requires special laws and above all an education free of prejudice, write members of the French organisation Oser le feminisme (Dare to be feminist) in the left-liberal daily Le Monde: "A law on all the acts of violence perpetrated against women would show the government's determination to fight each specific type of violence. But it is illusory to think that a law alone would suffice. ... To attack violence and street harassment at its root, it's above all stereotypes that must be combated by fostering notions of equality and liberty in the young from a very early age. The raised awareness and the indignation that we are seeing today are the first steps toward an understanding on everyone's part that such behaviour is unacceptable and must stop." (08/08/2012)

Pravda - Slovakia

More control for post-grad degrees in Slovakia

For years private universities in Slovakia have been used to obtain express doctor titles, even by foreign politicians. The Slovakian Education Ministry wants to curb the trend and enact strict qualification criteria for universities.The left-leading daily Pravda welcomes the plan and calls for controls to be stringently implemented: "The degree mania is a historical legacy of the [Austro-Hungarian] monarchy and somewhat unique to Central Europe. While a doctorate doesn't make you any smarter, those who don't have one tend to be looked down on. ... The universities where you can get a doctorate or post-doctorate for a few cents are an embarrassment for Slovakia. Universities should guarantee a certain quality. If the ministry now wants to clean this mess up, it can only be done by a truly independent institution that accredits universities and has the right to disallow degrees as soon as the slightest doubt emerges that they were obtained through crash courses." (09/08/2012)

MEDIA

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De Standaard - Belgium

British media in the grips of Olympic fever

The classic journalistic virtues are being thrown overboard amidst the Olympic euphoria, writes media expert Luc van Doorslaer in the liberal daily De Standaard. He explains why he prefers to listen to German TV commentators at present: "For the BBC these home games are a matter of national honour. So it's bombarding viewers with a plethora of technical showpieces. And this is being plausibly rounded off with a truckload of golden medals. An Olympic island delirium. ... The only broadcasters regularly providing objective coverage are the German ones, even if this is partially due to [Germany's relatively modest] sporting achievements. … The journalistic line is: okay, the games are important, but they're not the main thing. German TV differentiates between facts, background and human interest (a journalistic principle that long since ceased to hold sway here). … And the presenters communicate with each other with plenty of humour and winking. Those who love the classic British traits are therefore better off switching to [the German channels] ARD or ZDF." (09/08/2012)

LOCAL COLOURS

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Trud - Bulgaria

Bulgaria's politicians growl, bark and bite

The German news portal Spiegel Online has published a list of Europe's ten most dangerous politicians. The daily Trud explains why the list includes no Bulgarian names. "Our beloved leaders are not on the list because on the streets of Europe they whine and tuck their tails between their legs. To give people an idea of how dangerous they really are, Der Spiegel should put out a list just for us composed according to regional considerations. The new test for aggressive stray dogs could be of assistance with this task because it is also applicable to humans. In the test, the test subject should remain calm when exposed to loud cries and sudden threats, and neither bark, growl or bite. And it should allow itself to be stroked on the head and body. But there's the rub: our politicians are happy to let themselves be stroked any which way. But as soon as they sense danger they're the first to growl, bark and bite." (08/08/2012)

SPORT

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Heti Válasz - Hungary

Olympics a political issue for US and China

For the US and China the Olympic Games are a matter of political prestige, writes the conservative weekly newspaper Heti Válasz: "China sees itself as a superpower, and that's the image it wants to convey of itself at the Olympics as well. And once the Chinese have got an idea in their heads, sooner or later it will become reality. China's first participation in the summer Olympics after 1952 came in 1984. That's when the Chinese started wanting to become the most successful sporting nation. Which they did. ... At the home Olympic Games in Beijing four years ago China won the most gold medals by a long shot (51). ... The number of gold medals won is also a matter of political relevance: this year will see elections in the US, while in China the political leadership is facing the obligatory generation change that takes place once every ten years. At such times the public mood in both countries is anything but irrelevant." (09/08/2012)

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