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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 27/11/2012

 

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Greece to get money again

The bailout funds have been withheld since the summer because the creditors found fault with how the austerity terms were being implemented. (© AP/dapd)

 

After weeks of negotiations Greece is to receive money from its creditors once more. The Eurozone finance ministers, the ECB and the IMF on Tuesday morning agreed a plan for reducing the country's debt, meaning that Athens can count on 44 billion euros in loans from December. Greece can now breathe a sigh of relief, some commentators write, while others stress that without a debt writedown the deal is worth nothing.

Protagon.gr - Greece

Greece breathes sigh of relief

After an agreement has been reached between the Eurozone finance ministers, the ECB and the IMF, the web portal Protagon expresses relief: "For the first time in three years we can start planning for the long term again. … Six months after the election the government can be confident that there will be sufficient time in the political arena for the 'pro-European front' in Greek politics to realign its forces. The opposition will have a hard time criticising [yesterday's decision]. Naturally it will fix on the 24 billion in bailout funds earmarked for the banks, and will oppose this. … If we now receive plausible reassurance that we will remain in the Eurozone we can expect investors and capital to return to the country. But this process will take time; it won't all happen at once." (27/11/2012)

Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

Only a debt writedown will really do the job

Without a second debt haircut for Greece, the plan for reducing the country's debt won't be worth much, the liberal-conservative business paper Il Sole 24 Ore notes: "The attempt to reduce Greece's debt burden to a sustainable level without undertaking a second debt writedown is a Sisyphean task. And yet still the hard-liners of the North, led by Berlin, are preventing a writedown because they don't want to accept a potential loss of capital. … Three years of austerity have still not reduced Athens' debt. Instead the country threatens to drift from an economic crisis into a political and social one, particularly since extremist positions are gaining increasing support among the population. The Greeks are sick of hovering on the brink of disaster and waiting for a definitive solution, as they have done for the past 36 months. To further postpone the decision on Greece until after the parliamentary elections in Germany in September 2013 - this is what would be truly no longer 'sustainable'." (27/11/2012)

Wiener Zeitung - Austria

100-year loans would help

The proposed solutions for reducing Greece's debt are too conventional, and dishonest to boot, the liberal state-owned daily Wiener Zeitung writes, arguing for extremely long credit periods instead: "We must do away with the fiction that Athens can pay back its debts within a short period of time. At the same there can be no question of a debt haircut. How can that work? Simple. The credit periods will simply have to be extended, and massively at that, at best stretching over 50 to 100 years. Is this nonsense? Well, power plants are amortised over 50 years, because they're expensive and they have long running periods. Does a state not live even longer than a power plant? And the Greeks need low interest rates, meaning they need the EU's help in this domain. ... However such ideas don't fit into conventional schemes, and for that reason the EU finance ministers will stick to strictly conventional solutions and go on telling tall tales." (27/11/2012)

POLITICS

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Handelsblatt - Germany

Climate protection requires bottom-up approach

Expectations for the UN climate talks that kicked off in Qatar on Monday are low. The liberal business paper Handelsblatt also believes change will be less a product of international policy and more the result of small steps that can be taken by anyone: "Climate protection is not something the UN can prescribe right to the last corners of the earth; the top-down approach just doesn't work. Progress in climate protection comes about on a small scale, independently of the climate summits. The driving force is a growing awareness of the importance of the issue, and above all people being directly affected. In the mega-cities of many newly industrialised countries the authorities have recognised that they must change their course. In the key sectors of housing and transport they are striking out in new directions. … Many companies are realising they can actually make money with climate protection. The range of ecological products on offer is growing. … This bottom-up approach will be the key force behind climate protection in the coming years." (27/11/2012)

Kainuun Sanomat - Finland

Climate effort depend on US and emerging states

The global community will come no closer to its declared goal of limiting global warming to two degrees at the climate conference in Doha, the liberal daily Kainuun Sanomat complains. What is needed is more commitment from the US and the large emerging economies, the paper writes: "The melting of land ice is causing sea levels to rise. Many small island states are in danger of disappearing completely, while the coastal cities will be subjected to an increasing number of floods. ... As the prognoses worsen, the industrial and emerging economies should be doing more to meet the two-degree target. Unfortunately the signs from the Doha conference are not at all encouraging on this front. The EU is ready for an ambitious programme. The next key step is hence to win over the big powers of the world, first and foremost the US and the emerging markets, for genuine climate protection measures. China, India and Russia, for example, must slow the rate at which their carbon dioxide emissions are increasing." (27/11/2012)

Rzeczpospolita - Poland

Europe's thinkers no longer in demand

The Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Burmese President Thein Sein top the US magazine Foreign Policy's list of the 100 most important global thinkers. That exemplifies the current weakness of Europe, writes the conservative daily Rzeczpospolita: "The list does not make pleasant reading for Europeans. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the most high-ranking European, occupying 12th place. Then come the Russians (for example the girls of punk rock band Pussy Riot) and the European heads of international organisations. Clearly, all this goes to show that Western European culture is currently not particularly attractive. ... It's surprising how highly the magazine rates intellectuals from regions that we hardly pay any attention to at all. Not just Asia and the winning combo from Burma, but also representatives of the Islamic World. This year Europe wasn't particularly appealing on the intellectual front: the most important ideas emerged elsewhere." (27/11/2012)

Duma - Bulgaria

Albanians playing with fire undisturbed

Albania's Prime Minister Sali Berisha and his Kosovar counterpart Hashim Thaçi on Sunday visited the Macedonian capital Skopje as part of the celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of Albania. The daily Duma is alarmed: "Berisha und Thaci are adding fuel to the fire by making allusions to a Greater Albania. … 'Our neighbouring states must understand that the national unity of the Albanians is not a bad thing,' Berisha told an enthusiastic crowd. Thaçi promised that Priština would 'campaign' for the ethnic Albanians in Macedonia and Serbia and recalled Albania's support in Kosovo's fight for independence from Serbia, eliciting huge applause. … The EU, the European Parliament and the people of Europe doubtless observed this dangerous and worrying spectacle. … But as always when the subject is independence, all the institutions of the otherwise so united Europe remain silent. Now isn't that strange?" (27/11/2012)

Právo - Czech Republic

Prague electoral law cobbled together

The presidential elections scheduled for January 2013 in the Czech Republic may have to be postponed after several would-be candidates announced that they will legally contest their exclusion from the race. According to the Interior Ministry they submitted too many invalid signatures. The Czech electoral law is an exercise in dilettantism, the left-leaning daily Právo contends: "Why didn't we model our electoral law on those of other countries? After all, selecting candidates and running the elections is basically a purely technical matter. Elsewhere the number of signatures required is markedly lower, making them all the easier to control. In Slovakia 15,000 signatures are enough to join the race, in Austria all you need is 6,000, but here it takes 50,000. That means we will once more have the pleasure of reading ironic comments from abroad about how the Czech Republic can't even organise presidential elections without huge problems coming to the fore." (27/11/2012)

ECONOMY

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De Morgen - Belgium

The price of cheap T-shirts is just too high

More than a hundred people were killed in a fire at a textile factory in Bangladesh on Saturday. The tragedy reveals the true cost of cheap textiles, the left-liberal daily De Morgen admonishes: "600 euros for a new iPhone? We're willing to save up for that. 100 euros for dinner at a restaurant with your lover is also acceptable. But no way are we paying more than a few euros for a T-shirt. Clothes in general should not cost much more. The price to be paid for this mentality was highlighted in Dhaka last weekend. There is zero or minimal protection against fires, people work for a pitiful salary of 30 euros - a month! … The entire textile industry's business model is built on low pay and poor working conditions. … But it's too easy just to blame the textile industry for the problem. Every time we buy a T-shirt for a ridiculously low price we should be anything but proud of ourselves. Because we know damned well what the human cost of that bargain is." (27/11/2012)

The Independent - United Kingdom

Adoboli case shows greed of financial system

The major Swiss bank UBS has been ordered to pay just under 37 million euros in fines for failing to adequately supervise its banking business. The former trader Kweku Adoboli had lost billions on speculative investments and was sentenced to seven years in prison last week. The left-liberal daily The Independent complains about the infinite greed of the banking system: "The crime of Kweku Adoboli, gambling away 1.4 billion pounds of a Swiss bank's money, is a cranked-up version of the very recklessness and greed which have devastated economies and lives since 2008. Yet the trader himself is faintly absurd - a man so greedy and money-obsessed that even a salary and bonus amounting to 360,000 pounds was insufficient. Perhaps, after four years of crisis and recession, one should become used to the mismatch. In the real world, the loss over which Adoboli presided amounts to real and significant power, but not, it seems, in the City wonderland. All the reports of the world to which he belonged suggest that his idiocy was not a wild aberration from the norm. He simply went a bit too far, and then got found out." (26/11/2012)

El Mundo - Spain

Only an agreement can guarantee Iberia jobs

The ground staff of Spanish airline Iberia plan to stage strikes in December against a management cost-cutting programme that foresees around 4,500 layoffs within the company. Instead of causing further damage the unions, workers and management should try to make the necessary compromises, the conservative daily El Mundo warns: "Given the escalation of the conflict at Iberia, all parties are now called on to act responsibly. … The trade unions must prevent a situation in which we citizens are once again the victims [during the strikes]. But at the same time the management and the employees must seek an alternative to what seems an exaggerated number of layoffs, always bearing in mind the goal of ensuring the survival of the airline. And the government too should intervene, because the future of airports like those in Madrid and Barcelona which are essential to Spanish air traffic depends on Iberia. The automotive sector is a good example of how one can reach agreements that work to everyone's advantage and at the same time increase competitiveness." (27/11/2012)

Le Figaro - France

France will grow poorer without the rich

Since France introduced a top tax rate of 75 percent at the end of October a growing number of wealthy French citizens are leaving the country. France needs its economic elite, the conservative daily Le Figaro warns: "The richest French citizens are not just taxpayers and consumers. They are often also prudent investors. They invest their money in the shares of French firms and take risks and support young entrepreneurs who create jobs, register patents and enable the country to defend France's position in the global economic competition. This entire positive cycle is being put at risk by the Socialists' tax reform. … For this reason it is just as stupid to now close one's eyes to the mass tax exodus as it was to introduce the measures that triggered it in the first place. To strive for a country without rich people is to create a country of poor people. And these people will get poorer and poorer with each day that passes." (27/11/2012)

CULTURE

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Novinar - Bulgaria

Bulgaria should stay away from ESC

Poland and Portugal have cancelled their participation in the 2013 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest for financial reasons. Bulgaria should do the same, the daily Novinar writes, but not only for lack of funds: "It is time for Bulgaria to draw the line, as painful as it may be: we've participated in the Eurovision Song Contest since 2005 and only once have we made it to the finals, when Elitsa and Stundschi took fifth place. We love to remember this mini-victory when the time comes, as a motivation to try yet again. Meanwhile Bulgaria's participation is more like menstruation: it hurts, triggers contradictory emotions and in the end all you think is: thank God it's over. Until the next time. We would hardly be missed in Malmö, although the state television is once again determined to take part. And Bulgarian viewers couldn't care less one way or the other either." (26/11/2012)

LOCAL COLOURS

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Lietuvos rytas - Lithuania

Lithuanian ministers need clean bill of health

According to news reports, Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaitė will personally test the English skills of ministerial candidates starting today. And rightly so, the liberal daily Lietuvos rytas jokes: "It would only be logical, after taking the English test, for candidates to present an attestation of sound physical and mental health. ... Then, after a thorough lie detector test and additional measurements of the skull and forehead, the whole procedure would be moved from the White Hall of the Presidential Palace to the large inner courtyard, where candidates would take part in a sports competition: 100 metres, the long jump, lifting budget coffers and running relays to test for team spirit. ... In this way we would be firmly protected from international ridicule when our ministers once more set off for Brussels." (27/11/2012)

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