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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 31/08/2012

 

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Egypt's president snubs Iran

Mursi called the uprising of the Syrian opposition a "revolution against an oppressive regime". (© AP/dapd)

 

Egypt's President Mohammed Mursi voiced sharp criticism of the Assad regime on Thursday at the meeting of Non-Aligned states. His words were a slap in the face of host Iran, which is a close ally of the Syrian leader. Commentators are surprised and relieved that Egypt has set limits for Iran and hope for a new impulse in the Syria conflict.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - Germany

Mursi driving Iran into isolation

With his criticism Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi has prevented the Iranian leadership from using his presence at the summit for propaganda purposes, the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung comments with relief, hoping this will prompt action on Syria: "The suspicion that an Egypt led by the Muslim Brothers is seeking an alliance with Shiite Iran has been put to rest. … Mursi is not trying to bring the Sunnis and Shiites closer together but pushing for Iran's isolation. Moreover the reborn regional leader Egypt is driving Iran out of the Arab world once more. … Mursi's drumbeat in Tehran won't pass without consequences. His initiative and Iran's expected reaction have shown that a political solution aimed at resolving the conflict in Syria with Iran's help is not possible. Mursi's proposal to form a working group consisting of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey … is likely the last attempt to find a political solution to the civil war. If Iran doesn't grasp this very quickly … other solutions will be sought in which Iran will have no say." (31/08/2012)

Corriere della Sera - Italy

Cairo puts Tehran in its place

In condemning the Assad regime the Egyptian president has put a stop to Tehran's push for power in the Middle East, the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera writes: "With his unequivocal condemnation of Assad and his supporters Mursi has cornered Tehran. And more than that. With this gesture Egypt is challenging Iran in the fight for dominance over the region. Cairo is once again staking its claim to the role of regional power. It had that role in the times of Nasser, the founder of the Non-Aligned Movement [and President of Egypt from 1954 to 1970]. This role was then undermined by Sadat [president from 1970 to 1981] and Mubarak [1981 to 2011] by alliances with the US, Israel and the Gulf states. But now prudent Mursi has mastered the art of not taking sides with these partners yet not offending them either." (31/08/2012)

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

Egypt swiftly established as new power

The participation of Mohammed Mursi at the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran is the first time an Egyptian president has visited Iran in 33 years. The conservative daily Lidové noviny describes this as a geopolitical turning point with an uncertain outcome: "The Wikileaks disclosures of 2010 revealed that Arab countries like Egypt were more afraid of an Iranian nuclear bomb than an Israeli one. Arab leaders called on the US to destroy the Iranian nuclear facilities. Now Mursi no longer seems to fear the 'shiite nuclear bomb'. In 2011, after the Egyptian revolution, the line was: Don't condemn Egypt. The Islamists there confine their power to domestic politics, while foreign and defence policy remain in the hands of the army. Now Mursi is demonstrating that things can be different. In 2012 we have watched as Egypt achieves political emancipation far more quickly than Turkey in ten years under Erdoğan." (31/08/2012)

POLITICS

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Standpoint - United Kingdom

Romney risking competition from Ryan

The Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney may well have shot himself in the foot by choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate, the conservative monthly Standpoint observes: "Pretty much whatever happens, however, Ryan has been catapulted to the top echelons of the Republican hierarchy. If Romney loses in a tight race, Ryan will be the man to beat for the 2016 nomination. If Romney wins, Ryan will still be only 50 in 2020.  A personable, energetic and decent man, and one moreover with the only credible plan to save the American economy, Ryan nonetheless represents a risk for Romney, one which he didn't necessarily have to take." (31/08/2012)

Die Presse - Austria

Chinese emperor ticks off Merkel

During Angela Merkel's visit to China the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has called on the German Chancellor to find a quick solution to the euro debt crisis. While Europe's dependency is growing, China is displaying newfound self-assurance, the liberal-conservative daily Die Presse notes: "What was it that Wen Jiabao said at the press conference with Merkel? ... He is extremely worried about Greece's possible euro exit and the potential bankruptcy of Italy and Spain. He urged Berlin to help the weaker countries and remarked that austerity alone - as Merkel suggests - cannot solve the problem. Certainly, Germany and China are massively dependent on each other economically, and need one another as markets. But Europe needs Beijing ever more urgently as an investor, as a buyer of euro bonds. And: the tone adopted by Wen was far removed from that of the bike-riding China of yore. He spoke like the leader of a new superpower, also in the military sense. And to a certain extent he also reminded one of an emperor giving his vassal a dressing-down." (31/08/2012)

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

Turkey doesn't need EU any more

According to a study by the Turkish-German Foundation for Education and Scientific Research, or TAVAK, only 17 percent of Turkish voters believe their country will one day be part of the EU. It's no wonder the Turks take a sceptical view of the EU, the liberal-conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung comments, because economically they are currently better off: "While the EU is struggling to get its act together, the country on the Bosporus boasts high growth rates, an intact banking system, low public debt and a balanced fiscal policy. The lessons from Brussels that were meant to bring the country more in line with 'European standards' in the context of the accession negotiations launched in 2005 are losing their persuasiveness. The same goes for the idea that EU membership almost automatically translates into higher living standards. The impoverishment of what were once booming regions in Europe is taking its toll: the subject of EU membership seems to have vanished from the public radar in Turkey." (30/08/2012)

Contributors - Romania

Romania's social democrats isolated in Europe

The Party of European Socialists announced on Thursday plans to move its congress due to take place on September 28 and 29 from Bucharest to Brussels. This highlights the isolation of the Romanian social democrats (PSD), political scientist Vladimir Tismăneanu comments in the conservative blog portal Contributors: "The PSD is corrupt to the core and dominated by obscure financial interests. It is structured like a fortress consisting of mafia-like branches, not like a party with openly displayed values. It is the party of the nomenklatura of yesterday, today and tomorrow. The same Leninist dinosaur, Ion Iliescu [first president of Romania after the fall of communism] remains the lord and master of the PSD. … Europe's social democrats can't afford to be identified with this gang of crooks whose main achievements during the three months in which they have been in power consist in a failed putsch and a hysterical campaign to dismantle the rule of law." (31/08/2012)

Rzeczpospolita - Poland

Trench warfare in Poland's ruling party

Poland's ruling party the Civic Platform (PO) on Tuesday passed two proposed laws on homosexual partnerships and artificial insemination. But due to the trench warfare within the party these bills still have a long way to go before they become law, the conservative daily Rzeczpospolita surmises: "An intense conflict is in the offing. … [Prime Minister] Donald Tusk is no doubt aware of this. At the meeting of his faction in Jachranka [in mid-July] he had plenty of opportunity to be convinced that the ideological conflict within his party is very real. The party's conservatives are adopting a particularly resolute stance. [The MP] Godson has announced that he will withdraw from the faction if he is forced to support projects of which he does not approve. Even if they do get as far as the Polish parliament, there will still be a long way to go before these bills come into effect. There will be committees, amendments, discussions and further attempts to reach a compromise." (31/08/2012)

ECONOMY

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Les Echos - France

Transaction tax harms France's companies

France for the first time introduced a new 0.2 percent tax on financial transactions on August 1. The liberal business paper Les Echos feels the tax will damage the economy in the long term: "In these times of budget misery the profits made by the big companies on the [French stock index] CAC 40 are a veritable boon. ... So help yourselves, dear politicians! Tax the interest on loans, the financial transactions, the anaemic banks, the investments in young startups! Get rid of tax relief, introduce lower tax floors and raise contributions! But be aware that this manna from heaven could very quickly disappear. ... Europe is not getting back on its feet, Asia is in a slump, America is running idle. Several companies like Danone, Alcatel and Saint-Gobin have put out profit warnings. ... But if you turn them into cash cows they'll either run dry or take flight." (31/08/2012)

Público - Portugal

Tricky privatisations in Portugal

Prompted by the sovereign debt crisis Portugal's government on Thursday announced plans to privatise its airport company Ana and the state-owned airline Tap. The liberal daily Público calls on Lisbon to adopt a sensible approach in this process: "The privatisation programme has reached a delicate point. The privatisation of Ana and Tap raises the question of how Portugal intends to position itself in the international traffic network. For a peripheral country far more is at stake here than just business - it is also a balancing act between isolation and inclusion. … To know whether Tap will continue to play a key role in Africa and above all in Brazil is a top priority. Is selling all the airports, with the private monopoly this will create, the solution that will best meet the needs of the entire nation? How will the government select potential candidates and what will be the key criteria? … After all, the strategic future of the country is at stake here." (31/08/2012)

Kaleva - Finland

Nuclear plant in northern Finland can't fail

Six smaller businesses belonging to the Finnish-German consortium Fennovoima announced on Wednesday that they no longer want to cooperate on the construction of a new nuclear power plant in the northern Finnish municipality of Pyhäjoki. The liberal daily Kaleva hopes that despite the uncertainties the project will not fail: "Of course the withdrawal of these companies' backing is causing people to speculate about whether the project can be brought to a successful conclusion at all. This speculation will only increase if more companies drop out in the near future. The only thing that can put an end to such speculation will be for the situation to calm down. It is important that the big participants continue to give Fennovoima their backing. The decisive factor will be what the German company Eon does, since it has a 33 percent stake in the consortium. The fact that the company lost 2.3 bilion euros last year is causing some uncertainty. On Wednesday it announced that it continued to back the project. For Finnish industry, for energy competition and for the job market in northern Finnland, the construction of the Pyhäjoki nuclear power plant is just as desirable as it ever was." (31/08/2012)

SOCIETY

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The Independent - United Kingdom

EU tolerates racist violence in Greece

Since the introduction of harsh austerity measures Greece has witnessed an increase in the number of violent, sometimes fatal attacks against immigrants and ethnic minorities, in which gangs of thugs belonging to the neo-Nazi party Chrysi Avgi, or Golden Dawn, are also involved. But Europe is content to just looking on impassively, the left-liberal daily The Independent complains: "As with many fascist groups, Golden Dawn claims to represent the marginalised working class. Like far-right groups across Europe - including the English Defence League and the new British Freedom Party - Golden Dawn declares itself the enemy of a bankrupt democratic system, exploiting for its own ends popular anger against neoliberal economic mismanagement. However, although it professes to stand against austerity, it has no economic project: its tactics are simply violent, divisive and nauseatingly racist. And the governments of Greece and Europe seem willing to tolerate this as the social cost of an ongoing austerity consensus." (31/08/2012)

Le Jeudi - Luxembourg

Luxembourg avoids tackling refugee issue

Roughly 1,400 people applied for asylum in Luxembourg in the first seven months of this year, according to recent figures put out by the country's immigration authorites. The government must finally adopt a clear policy regarding asylum-seekers, many of whom are Roma, the left-liberal weekly Le Jeudi urges: "One could point out that only few people are raising their voices against the asylum seekers and that the silent majority is welcoming. But if that's the truth then let them say so! Because if it's unpleasant to live beside a container full of refugees, it's infinitely more unpleasant to live inside one! ... What the statistics don't say is that the majority of asylum seekers are Sinti and Roma. France chose to break down barriers by opening up access to its labour market. In Luxembourg such questions don't even arise because officially there are no Roma, and almost no refugees." (30/08/2012)

MEDIA

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Blog Stefan Niggemeier - Germany

Publishing houses act like Google victims

The German cabinet decided on Wednesday in favour of a bill on ancillary copyrights allowing publishers the right to demand money for their contents from Google and other search engines. But the publishing companies arguments are built on sand, the journalist Stefan Niggemeier comments on his blog: "A search engine performs a service: it brings readers to contents that interest them. This is a double service, both for the user and for the content provider. ... But just ask yourself, who should be giving money to whom? And who depends more on the services provided by the other? ... The emotional argument runs: Google's got the cash. The company makes fantastillions of euros in profits, so it's not going to hurt it to pass on a bit of that to media companies that barely manage to keep their heads above water. ... This emotional argument is so effective because Google not only earns a ridiculous amount of money, it also sits on the other end of the world, a huge business with far too much influence that doesn't really do anything useful (apart from opening up the Internet to us and thus giving the impression of being indispensable.)" (31/08/2012)

El Mundo - Spain

Germany pioneering authors' rights

Press publishers would in future have the exclusive right to publish their products for commercial purposes on the Internet under a proposed law on service protection passed by the German cabinet on Wednesday. The conservative daily El Mundo applauds the initiative: "Good news for German newspaper and magazine publishers. The Bundestag will examine a draft law presented by the government that will considerably alter the German legislation governing authors' rights on the Internet. Google and other news providers that make hefty profits through advertising will have to pay the German press license fees for the right to use the content of their publications. Blogs and non-commercial organisations would not be affected by the new legislation. This is the right approach. All Europe should adopt it counter Google's predominance, which has already been criticised by Brussels." (31/08/2012)

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