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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 19/11/2012

 

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War again in the Middle East

Since the beginning of the fighting last Wednesday more than 80 people have died. (© AP/dapd)

 

Israel's army bombarded hundreds of targets in the Gaza Strip on the weekend. Meanwhile the radical Islamic movement Hamas continued to fire missiles at Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. With these attacks against civilian targets Hamas is committing a war crime, some commentators write. Others criticise Israel for escalating the Middle East conflict with its bombardments.

Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland

Israel missing historical opportunity

The Arab Spring has long since come to Palestine, but instead of reacting appropriately Israel is missing a historic opportunity, the liberal Tages-Anzeiger writes: "Israel can try to gain the upper hand again. It can bomb the people with even greater radicality and boycott all negotiated solutions with its settlement policy. The Palestine problem is growing ever more ideologically charged with the Arab Spring. Not pan-Arab, but Islamic, and Israel is increasingly playing the role of the useful enemy. A powerful front has yet to emerge from this, but it is only a matter of time. Then Israel will be left facing the bloc that accompanied it since its founding and which collapsed with the Camp David Accords. The vicious circle could start all over again if the involved parties miss this historic opportunity." (19/11/2012)

De Telegraaf - Netherlands

Hamas committing war crimes

As a result of its intensified air strikes against Gaza, a growing number of countries are calling on Israel to prevent an escalation. But this is distorting reality, the conservative tabloid De Telegraaf writes: "Since Israel's voluntary withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005, missiles have rained down on Israeli cities. For the first time since the Gulf War in 1991 Tel Aviv has also come under fire. The constant expansion of an arsenal of long-range missiles in Gaza betrays Hamas' true intentions. This radical Islamic movement does not want peace, but only the destruction of Israel. Hamas' actions are no different to those in terrorist attacks. The civil population in Israel is its target. The deliberate aiming of missiles at the inhabitants of Tel Aviv is not self-defence; it is a war crime. This needs to be emphasised when certain people can't resist the temptation to read Israel the riot act." (19/11/2012)

Magyar Nemzet - Hungary

Peace a distant prospect in the Middle East

If peace has become an increasingly remote possibility in the Middle East, it's because both the Israelis and the radical Islamic Hamas had longed for war, the conservative daily Magyar Nemzet writes: "As long as children in the Gaza Strip talk of a holy war against Israel, and as long as Israeli schoolchildren paint smiling faces on the missiles that kill Palestinian kids their own age, there can be no talk of a peace process. If the Palestinian president [Abbas] asks the UN to recognise Palestine as a non-member state in two weeks' time, Israel has threatened to put an abrupt end to the peace process. ... But every child knows that no one wants peace. Everyone wants war." (19/11/2012)

Spiegel Online - Germany

Cities must be taboo for generals

Only genuine political negotiations can resolve the crisis between Israel and Palestine, the Israeli journalist Tom Segev writes in the news magazine Der Spiegel, harshly condemning the mutual attacks: "While I write these lines my son calls. He lives in Tel Aviv. The sirens are wailing in the background - missile alarm. ... Not half an hour after our conversation a missile strikes somewhere in the vicinity of Jerusalem - for the first time since 1970. Our army will expand the attacks to residential areas. No one knows how many Palestinians will die as a result. ... [We] should remember the moral lesson the world has learned from earlier wars: under no circumstances should generals bomb cities. Not Dresden, not Tel Aviv and not Gaza City. Particularly since the history of Gaza is peppered with violence, plight, unfulfilled agreements and missed opportunities. ... Only political dialogue can lead to a long-term agreement." (19/11/2012)

POLITICS

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Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

Germany deserves more respect in Europe

Norbert Lammert, the president of the German parliament, avoided directly criticising the Czech Republic on his visit to Prague last week. In his words, Berlin has problems with almost every country in the EU. Bearing in mind all they do for Europe the Germans deserve more respect, the conservative daily Lidové noviny writes: "Europeans don't even like the Germans when they pitch in billions of euros to help find a solution to budget problems in Southern Europe. And the way things look now Germany won't have an easy time in the negotiations over the EU budget for 2014-2020 either. ... Germany wants to please everybody in order to push through the EU budget. But in this way no one will be satisfied. And then we'll see yet another episode in the series 'Why doesn't anyone in the EU like the Germans?'. But thinking European is so deeply rooted in the mindset of the German elites that they'll be able to withstand this as well. Many Czechs don't like the Germans either. But the Germans don't expect Europeans to like them anyway. Nevertheless they do deserve to be treated with objectivity - and respect." (19/11/2012)

Berliner Zeitung - Germany

The Hague justifies expulsion of Serbs

A UN war crimes tribunal on Friday surprisingly acquitted the Croat generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac on the grounds that it had not been conclusively proven that the two officers planned the expulsion of around 200,000 Serbs at the end of the Croatian war in the Krajina region, which had been settled by many Serbs. The ruling, which hundreds of thousands of people in Croatia celebrated, is a political disaster, the left-liberal daily Berliner Zeitung admonishes: "Not just Gotovina but the whole nation was acquitted yesterday in The Hague. ... According to the appeals chamber, this enterprise never took place. Gotovina's artillery had only fired at places where there was a military target within 200 meters - which can only be described as a joke because the Serb army had almost entirely withdrawn during the invasion of August 1995. The grenades that Gotovina fired were a message to the civilians: flee! The judgement confirms and renews this message." (19/11/2012)

Večer - Slovenia

Protests in Slovenia too cautious

Around 30,000 people demonstrated against the government's austerity programme in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana on Saturday, according to the organisers of the protest. But the conservative daily Večer writes that the protests didn't go far enough: "Although they have become alienated from the politicians, the trade unions don't use events like that on Saturday to make a definitive break with them. ... The protests have shown that the trade unions won't be able to motivate the people to fight for new values and political change. Other groups are better positioned to do this, and are prepared to use violence to push their cause. [During protests against the mayor of Maribor property was damaged.] These groups derive their legitimacy from the plight and morals of the little man on the street. … The trade unions should voice their support for these groups, because they are a direct expression of the people's will. Admittedly it's questionable whether these groups can contribute to the common good in the long term." (19/11/2012)

Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace - France

French conservatives deeply divided

The French conservative UMP party elected a new chairman on Sunday evening, and de facto also the successor to former president Nicolas Sarkozy. But the result was so close that to this moment on Monday morning both the former prime minister François Fillon and the long-time secretary general of the party Jean-François Copé are claiming victory for themselves. In this way the party will never rid itself of Sarkozy, the regional paper Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace comments: "The members of the UMP have taken their enthusiasm to the point that the polls could never have foretold the result. In this context this vote is a victory for democracy. ... Otherwise the result is anything but brilliant. The inner conflict in the party became crystal clear in the course of the night. After months of lively debate, these camps are so opposed that one wonders how the UMP will ever represent a united opposition. The animosity between the two camps is too strong, and too enduring. Could it be that the true winner is the one standing in the wings whose name is Nicolas Sarkozy? (19/11/2012)

REFLECTIONS

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Revista 22 - Romania

Andrei Cornea hopes Europe will keep an eye on Romania

The parliamentary elections on December 9 won't solve Romania's political crisis, writes essayist Andrei Cornea in the weekly newspaper Revista 22, hoping that Europe will continue to take a keen interest in goings-on in the country: "My hope at this moment is not based on the oppostion (which is completely listless), nor on civil society (which is deeply divided), nor on the intellectuals or the people's common sense. It arises from the conviction that regardless of who's elected, the West won't allow Romania to 'escape' its sphere of influence. The West (the US and the EU) can pressure any Romanian government. And that's exactly what it should be doing, to a limited extent, to protect us from ourselves. Western Europe has already done this once this summer. It's not for nothing that [Prime Minister] Ponta's claim to power has changed in comparison to that of [his coalition partner] Antonesco. Ponta feels the pressure from outside, and is slowly learning that governing entails certain responsibilities. Antonesco, by contrast, is driven purely by his craving for power. ... That means a conflict in the [left-liberal] governing alliance after the elections is unavoidable." (19/11/2012)

ECONOMY

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Corriere della Sera - Italy

Spain can seek bailout unhesitatingly

Spain has so far avoided applying for an EU bailout because it fears the uncertainties of the austerity terms this involves. But there is now no reason to continue hesitating, the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera points out: "The new bailout date has been fixed for the end of November. And perhaps this time it will work out. But this is by no means certain; after all, all the previous deadlines were missed. Up to now [Prime Minister] Rajoy has been paralysed by fear of the terms imposed for a bailout. The example of Greece is very much with him. ... But things are going on behind the scenes. Last Wednesday EU currency commissioner Olli Rehn announced that Spain wouldn't have to implement further austerity measures even if it does not fulfil the Stability Pact terms. So it doesn't matter if the deficit amounts to eight percent of the GDP: the EU Commission will prevent Germany from demanding impossible sacrifices. Madrid can forget its fears and seek a bailout without hesitation." (19/11/2012)

Svenska Dagbladet - Sweden

State should not rescue SAS

The Scandinavian airline SAS took the first steps towards declaring insolvency on Sunday, and at the same time began crisis negotiations with the unions. The conservative daily Svenska Dagbladet points to the prolonged agony of car manufacturer Saab and rejects calls for the state to rescue the company: "The state's role vis-à-vis Saab and SAS cannot be compared in every aspect. But whatever the company, there will always be politicians and interest groups for whom a certain product, company or service is 'something special'. Artificial respiration is always a highly provisional solution. That also goes for airline companies. And despite the worries and the problems that changes entail for employees and customers alike, times are changing, with new companies and new flight plans. Other airlines are ready to take over the routes flown until now by SAS, and they will also need staff. Insolvency is never easy. But insolvency doesn't just mean the end of an era. It's also the start of a new one." (19/11/2012)

Aamulehti - Finland

Finnish mining sector needs tougher controls

Now that the Finnish mining company Talvivaara has sealed up the leak in its nickel mine the focus has turned to dealing with the consequences of the environmental disaster. The liberal daily Aamulehti calls for harsher punishment and better controls: "The whole disaster must be thoroughly investigated. Since the mining law has proven useless, it must now be rewritten. Finland has great expectations of the mining industry. Providing the right framework for the sector is best done by ensuring that the mines don't cause irreparable damage to the environment. Talvivaara has probably served to deter other mining companies. But that is not enough. Safety can't be improved in the long run if violations of the rules don't result in tough punishment. The mining law must be reformed, the environmental regulations made more stringent and the resources and expertise of the monitoring authorities must be increased." (19/11/2012)

SOCIETY

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El Periódico de Catalunya - Spain

Spanish government can't deal with evictions

Despite the government's moratorium on evictions in cases of particular hardship, thousands of families that don't fulfil the criteria are still losing their homes. The measure is therefore completely ineffectual, the left-liberal daily El Periódico de Catalunya complains: "The conclusion is obvious: the emergency decree only solves a minimal part of the problem. The most discouraging statistic is the following: not one of the three people who took their own lives in recent weeks, thus putting the issue on the cabinet table, fulfilled the [hardship] criteria stipulated by the government. All of them would have been excluded from the solution. This means zero efficiency - what an achievement! ... What the government passed is no solution. It is more like trying to plug a big leak with a little Scotch Tape." (18/11/2012)

Der Standard - Austria

Queen offers exploitative pay

A job as cleaning lady has been announced on the homepage of the British Royal Family. But the pay is dreadful, the left-liberal daily Der Standard notes: "Let's not forget, even the royal throne needs to be wiped down every now and again. But the issue becomes distasteful when it turns out the Queen is unwilling to pay even what her own government recommends as the minimum respectable wage. Instead of the already very minimal 8.55 pounds per hour, the queen is only ready to part with 6.67 pounds (8.32 euros) to have the place looking spick and span. It is indeed striking that the very people who are most overbearing are those who can best afford to treat their cleaning staff with respect. That includes a payment commensurate with the intimate nature of the job at hand. Because as is well-known, money doesn't stink. But the rank odour of someone who exploits their staff clings very persistently to one's reputation." (19/11/2012)

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