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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 21/11/2012

 

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No ceasefire in Gaza

Israeli and Palestinian representatives reckon with an agreement for a ceasefire by Thursday at the latest. (© AP/dapd)

 

The hopes of a truce in the Gaza conflict have been disappointed. Although a ceasefire was announced on Tuesday evening, Israel and Hamas continued their mutual attacks throughout Tuesday night. While some commentators stress that neither party is interested in a political solution, others call on the West to support Israel.

Público - Portugal

A truce doesn't mean peace

One shouldn't expect too much of a potential ceasefire, the liberal daily Público warns, pointing out that both Israel and Hamas stand to gain from the conflict: "Whether the negotiations for a potential truce in the Gaza Strip are successful or not - they won't touch on the core reasons for the conflict. Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu will seek to capitalise politically on this confrontation. ... Provided he is not forced into a dangerous invasion. Hamas, whose missiles have reached Jerusalem and Tel Aviv for the first time, has raised its profile with the Palestinians and in the Arab world - and outshone its rival, the autonomous Palestinian Authority. Therefore a potential de-escalation of the tensions doesn't necessarily mean we have drawn any closer to peace. ... The key issues, in particular the founding of a Palestinian state on which peace essentially depends, will once again be postponed. ... Both Israel and Hamas have shown on ample occasions that they are not interested in being part of a political solution." (21/11/2012)

Jyllands-Posten - Denmark

The West must back Israel

The West has a duty to support Israel now, the liberal-conservative daily Jyllands-Posten argues: "Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and is therefore measured according to the standards of a democratic constitutional state. The West sees Israel as one of its own and judges the country as it would judge itself. This is absolutely justified and basically an accolade for Israel. No one would dream of applying the same standards to Hamas. Hamas bears the stamp of a terrorist organisation. The West is pinning its hopes on Egypt, but it is not yet certain how the new government in Cairo will react. Since the Muslim Brothers came to power one must fear an increase in anti-Israeli sentiment. In other words: nothing new on the many fronts imposed on Israel. ... The international community has failed to stop the flow of weapons to Gaza, leaving Israel to fight its own battle. But we all bear responsibility for Israel." (21/11/2012)

Le Temps - Switzerland

Why the US doesn't want to intervene

Sent to the Middle East to act as a mediator in the Gaza conflict, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for an long-term solution to the problem on Tuesday evening in Jerusalem. The US has little interest in become actively involved in conflicts in the Middle East, the Swiss political scientist Shahram Chubin writes in the liberal daily Le Temps, explaining why: "Usually the Middle East is a priority. ... However neither of the two candidates [from before the presidential elections] nor their parties wish to be involved in another war. The unwillingness of the US to be part of a ground offensive abroad is an inevitable reaction to the complications inherent to such interventions, their cost and the marginal advantages they bring. And it can also be explained by the increasingly complex situation in the region, as well as Washington's reticence due to budget constraints. In such a situation, taking sides, supplying arms and intervening is just as risky as leaving it to the forces in the region to determine the events and their outcome." (21/11/2012)

POLITICS

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Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland

Right-wing terrorism also a reality in Poland

The Polish state prosecutor on Tuesday informed the public for the first time that it had prevented an attack on the country's parliament. The security service arrested a 45-year-old Pole who had apparently planned an attack for right-wing terrorist motives. The liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza criticises the reaction of Poland's Right: "It is frightening to hear what some of the journalists with close links to the [opposition party] PiS are saying. Some mocked the report, saying it was some kind of propagandist lie, others asked why the security service managed to foil this attack while it neglected the [alleged] murder of President Kaczyński. ... This is silly because it doesn't conceal the basic fact that Poland is now a country where terrorism is no longer pure theory. However this must not lead to us submitting to the dictates of the security service or allowing restrictions on our freedom for the sake of protecting the state." (21/11/2012)

To Vima Online - Greece

Athens must prepare to act on its own

In the negotiations over the payment of further financial aid for Greece, the Eurozone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund failed to reach a consensus on Tuesday, meaning Athens must continue to wait for the payment of the next instalment. The left-liberal online paper To Vima considers the possibility of Athens having to save itself: "The International Monetary Fund is unbending and our European partners still distrust us. Clearly any future solution will not be commensurate to the efforts and sacrifices of the Greek people. In the event that the Greek issue continues to be postponed the country must begin to consider more drastic alternatives. Further delay will only increase distrust, worsen the political and economic mood in the country and crush any hope of the situation stabilising. In this case the Greek parties must begin to seek practical solutions that are oriented solely towards national interests." (21/11/2012)

De Morgen - Belgium

Belgium's middle class picks up the tab

After a prolonged debate the Belgian governing coalition agreed on a new budget on Tuesday. However there is no sign of major structural reforms, the left-liberal daily De Morgen complains: "The government is sending a timorous, defensive message. ... One mitigating circumstance is that the government is internally divided, and so in part too paralysed to take risks. ... Just like last year, the budget will put the brunt of the burden on the middle class. ... Once again the hard-working middle class is being given the message that it must pick up the tab for the crisis and the deficit that it played no part in bringing about. And it sees that yet again the budget fails to provide an answer to the structural challenges of an increasingly globalised economy, the unprecedented financial crisis, the consequences of an ageing society and a labour market facing new problems. For the time being all we have is a makeshift job aimed at patching up the problems." (21/11/2012)

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

Communists make a comeback in Czech Republic

For the first time since 1989 a communist, Oldřich Bubeníček, took over the reins in the Ústí nad Labem region in the north of Bohemia on Tuesday, after the Communist Party of Bohemia and Morvaia (KSČM) won the most votes regional elections. The conservative daily Lidové noviny is not amused: "After the revolution people said that the problem with the Communists would be resolved biologically. Then we thought only young radical idealists would run for election for the KSČM. But Oldřich Bubeníček doesn't fit this description. He joined the Communist Party in 1974 at the age of 21. Back then you had to sign your approval of the Soviet military occupation of the country when you joined. And in the 15 years that followed Bubeníček never felt bothered by the occupation. Or perhaps it bothered him but he behaved cynically. It doesn't really matter. But what does matter is that 23 years after the end of communism such a person will be making the decisions for a whole district." (21/11/2012)

hvg - Hungary

Fidesz changes election law to its advantage

Several thousand people formed a human chain around the parliament in Budapest on Monday in protest at the new Hungarian election law. The journalist László Seres writes in the online edition of the left-liberal weekly paper Heti Világgazdaság that the reform of the election law works to the advantage of ruling party Fidesz, and that "there can be no more talk of free elections": "While Hungarian voters will in future have to register 15 days prior to an election, thanks to its two-thirds majority Fidesz can still change the election law any time it likes prior to election day. ... After losing half its voters, the party has had the effrontery to redraw the electoral districts to its own advantage, shorten the campaign period and allow electoral advertising only in the state media. ... And we stress once more: in addition to all that the election law can also be changed at any time, even immediately before the election." (19/11/2012)

ECONOMY

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La Stampa - Italy

France spared by the markets

The financial markets barely reacted on Tuesday to France's downgrading by rating agency Moody's. France is not Italy, after all, the liberal daily La Stampa points out: "Why is it that France can be brutally downgraded without any repercussions? Because France has something Italy lacks: grandeur. It is firmly convinced of its own importance. … And why are the risk premiums on French bonds far lower than those on Italian bonds? Because the French economy is perceived as closely bound up with the German economy. Paris and Berlin are the heart of Europe, no matter who governs them. It is inconceivable that Germany would stay afloat if France went down. And no matter how contentious its political measures - be it those of the current government or those of the previous one - France as a country remains reliable. The state (abnormal yet efficient) and the political system guarantee both: change and stability." (21/11/2012)

Der Standard - Austria

EU structural funds useless in the crisis

The budgets for structural funding aimed at reducing economic disparities among EU countries are unlikely to be touched in the current negotiations on the EU budget. This is a mistake, the left-liberal daily Der Standard contends, noting that the rigidity of the Cohesion Fund renders it essentially useless: "In the Eurozone crisis these programmes are proving especially useless. … The structural funding is planned for years at a time and in order to receive it the recipient must also contribute a large amount for the so-called co-financing, which means these funds are not available precisely when they're most needed - for example now to fight youth unemployment in Spain and Portugal. In a sensible reform the EU would no longer finance roads and bridges but create a true crisis fund that can react flexibly to the needs of the member states and compensate for the harshness of the austerity policy. … [But] in an EU where political success is measured only in terms of how much a country pays in and takes out, such a paradigm shift is unfortunately inconceivable." (21/11/2012)

Handelsblatt - Germany

Too much state bad for EADS

The German government is preparing to buy a stake in the European aerospace and defence company EADS, according to news reports. Unlike Spain and France, the German state does not have a direct stake in the company. The liberal business daily Handelsblatt is severely critical of this intervention in the market: "The arguments that tens of thousands of jobs are at risk here and that there is a danger that the group's cutting-edge technology could end up in foreign hands are not enough to justify such massive intervention. According to this logic the German government would have to hold a stake in all the other German defence companies, which it doesn't. ... The fine balance between shareholders France and Germany has already prevented the creation of an independent, globally active aerospace company to rival the US's Boeing in the past. Now we face the prospect of an exhausting and crippling struggle between German and French politicians intent on pushing through their respective national interests in matters such as where airplanes, helicopters and satellites are to be built." (21/11/2012)

Keskisuomalainen - Finland

SAS must sell flights like bus rides

The struggling Scandinavian airline SAS was able to stave off insolvency on Monday for the time being. In recent years air traffic has undergone profound changes to which many established companies have failed to react quickly enough, writes the liberal daily Keskisuomalainen: "The traditional airlines are currently having problems because of their costs. Air traffic has become airborne bus traffic, and people are no longer willing to pay for glamour. Passengers buy cheap tickets. In the days of the traditional airline companies, competition focused on service and image. That made it possible to pay employees high salaries, however it also led to rigid business structures. Now times have changed. ... Air traffic has become a way for people to get from one place to the next cheaply." (21/11/2012)

SOCIETY

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De Volkskrant - Netherlands

Beware of mass DNA screening

The presumed murderer of a young girl has been caught after 13 years in the Netherlands thanks to large-scale DNA testing. But DNA screening is not a miracle cure and entails considerable risks, the liberal daily De Volkskrant warns: "Now the next step is already in sight: the mass DNA archiving of the entire Dutch population in a nationwide database. However both for practical reasons and on principle, there are many arguments against the plan. ... The more DNA profiles are collected in such a database, the greater the risk of mistakes and confusion. Innocent people could come under suspicion because their DNA profile is similar to that of the offender. Information may be passed on to third parties like insurance companies that want to calculate individual risk more efficiently. In any event, the state's reputation is far from perfect when it comes to protecting electronic data. But the biggest objection is that the state would then consider citizens as potential criminals from the day they are born." (21/11/2012)

MEDIA

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Spiegel Online - Germany

Newspaper crisis due to outdated journalism

Not the Internet but static news reporting is to blame for the death of the newspapers, blogger Sascha Lobo writes on Spiegel Online, arguing that they no longer fit in with consumer habits: "Merely reflecting the world is no longer enough for a news article, regardless of where it's published. The internet is also becoming increasingly proceduralised, rendering the traditional, static news article obsolete. ... The news reporting process will not tolerate a standstill. ... It's not the newspapers that are in crisis, but the classic understanding of how news is reported - online or offline. The Internet is only marginally better at reacting to this because it comes across in a more proceduralised way.  ... For the printed media that means keeping its hands off those areas in which the pressure to proceduralise is greatest: away from the snap-shot format of a news report and towards helping people gain a better understanding of the news process." (21/11/2012)

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