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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 28/11/2012

 

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Agreement on Greece a source of relief

"Greece has regained its credibility with this agreement," Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Tuesday evening. (© AP/dapd)

 

The stock markets reacted with cautious optimism on Tuesday to the agreement on reducing Greece's debt. The package of measures must now be approved by the national parliaments. While some see the package as well-deserved support for the long-suffering Greeks, others believe state bankruptcy would have been the best solution.

Le Monde - France

Relief for the long-suffering Greeks

The agreement on a plan for reducing Greece's debt is praiseworthy indeed, the liberal daily Le Monde writes: "Even when the topic is Greece and its sovereign debt, the Cassandras are not always right. Although the Europeans have in general oscillated between irresponsibility and spinelessness on this issue, there are some occasions when a step has been taken in the right direction. And that's what happened in Brussels on the night of Monday the 26th. So much the better for the Greeks. So much the better for the Eurozone. ... That night the 17 euro countries decided on a package of complex financial measures, putting at Greece's disposal 40 billion euros in funds. If required, further measures can be taken to cut the country's debt to 124 percent of GDP [the target set for 2020]. The agreement is intelligent, because the goal is what counts, and what inspires confidence on the markets. And the agreement is salutary because the Greeks, who have gone through much suffering, well deserve it." (28/11/2012)

Jyllands-Posten - Denmark

National bankruptcy the better option

The liberal daily Jyllands-Posten is less than enthusiastic about the agreement, arguing that national bankruptcy would have been the better solution: "The bitter reality is hard to swallow and politically inopportune, but the truth is that Greece, which lacks a sensible political leadership, would probably have been better off with an orderly national bankruptcy and an exit from the Eurozone. The economic decline after national bankruptcy could not be worse than the past six years of recession into which the debt crisis has plunged the country. Such a solution would have forced the Greeks to get their own act together instead of pinning the blame on the IMF, the ECB, the EU Commission and the governments in the other Eurozone countries. An improvement in the economy could be Greece's salvation, but the debt will be an intolerable burden on the country for decades to come." (28/11/2012)

To Vima Online - Greece

Fear remains in Greece

The left-liberal online paper To Vima fears the consequences of implementing the austerity policy agreed with the creditors: "Now Greece must fulfil its duties in practice. … The austerity measures will worsen the recession and push society even closer to the abyss, boost support for the extremist political parties, increase unemployment and plunge a large part of the population into misery. It will turn out that several measures are not feasible because many of the prognoses are based on a budget that doesn't take account of the actual revenues. The implementation of the so-called structural reforms so closely observed from abroad will prove particularly difficult. They will meet with stiff opposition from Greek society and in many cases the process will resemble a looting. ... The government will be confronted with this every time something is privatised." (28/11/2012)

Kurier - Austria

A boon for the gamblers and Angela Merkel

The new loans won't solve Greece's problems but they will help the speculators and Angela Merkel's election campaign, the liberal daily Kurier complains: "The ones who benefit are the gamblers in the hedge funds who can now be certain they have a bombproof deal. The Greek state will buy back its worthless bonds from them with the 'bailout' money from the rest of Europe. One can hardly imagine a more sophisticated form or redistribution from the bottom up. … And all this because it's politically expedient? In Germany, Angela Merkel is hoping to be re-elected in 2013. So from her point of view there can be no sustainable, i.e. expensive solution for Athens for the time being. Because that would mean the waiving of debts, and that would apparently be too much to expect of the German (and Austrian) voters. Merkel wants to avoid informing the voters of the true state of affairs at literally any cost. This is why this debt haircut in instalments is being stage-managed. But it won't make the least bit of difference to the plight of the Greeks." (28/11/2012)

POLITICS

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Die Welt - Germany

The West must stop autocratic Mursi

Hundreds of thousands of protesters have been demonstrating against President Mursi on Cairo's Tahrir Square since Tuesday, and one man has been killed in clashes with the police. The West must help curb Mursi's authoritarian tendencies, the conservative daily Die Welt demands: "Mursi says he wants to protect the achievements of the revolution from the judiciary and the bureaucracy, which are full of Mubarak supporters. That is not completely wrong. But when you see how consistently the Muslim Brothers are trying to fill key posts with their own people, you certainly don't get the impression that the goal is to establish pluralism. ... For that reason it is now high time, after the effusive praise for Mursi's mediation in the Gaza crisis, for the West to strike a new tone. After their initial hesitation Europe and America helped to depose a long-standing pro-Western dictator to allow the country to make a new democratic start. ... But exchanging a pro-Western dictator for an anti-Western autocrat would mean limiting Egypt's prospects for the future." (28/11/2012)

Dagens Nyheter - Sweden

New status for Palestine no solution

The President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas will apply for the position of non-member "observer state" for Palestine at the UN General Assembly on Thursday. This would mean the Palestinians would for the first time attain the official status of a state. But this new status would hardly contribute to resolving the conflict in the Middle East, the liberal daily Dagens Nyheter notes: "The political division between the one-party rule of Hamas in Gaza and Abbas' fragile regime in the West Bank is a major obstacle on the path to a true Palestinian state. … The complex problems cannot be resolved by the UN, but only by the parties themselves. Sensible compromises on both sides are necessary, and the United States must finally get more involved here. … The best thing would be if the Israelis themselves had submitted an application - as an invitation to initiate new talks. If Israel wants to live in peace and security it must guarantee that the Palestinians are granted the right to their own, viable state." (28/11/2012)

Večer - Slovenia

Protest against mayor rouses Maribor

In the Slovenian city of Maribor an estimated 10,000 people gathered again to protest against Mayor Franc Kangler on Monday. The citizens are calling for his resignation because he is facing no less than 10 legal proceedings on allegations of corruption and abuse of office. This rebellion against the municipal leader has achieved what the city's stint as European Capital of Culture failed to accomplish, the conservative daily Večer notes: "So it seems the European Capital of Culture was most successful with a project which received no funding, and for which there was no PR or opening speech. Despite the buildings that were promised but never constructed and the short-lived nature of the artistic projects, and the fact that all the energy and the money failed to attract the most important players and institutions, something has come to life that gives the city hope for the future. And this has the greatest potential for durability and development, because it has restored the citizens' passion for life. The city has raised its voice." (28/11/2012)

REFLECTIONS

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Revista 22 - Romania

Stefan Vianu on the Ceaușescu Palace as a political curse

On December 9 Romania will elect a new parliament, which will continue to sit in the Palace of the Parliament, that is the former palace of dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu. The philosopher Stefan Vianu explains in the weekly paper Revista 22 how the building's past continues to shape the mentality in parliament: "There seems to be a mysterious relationship between the Palace of the Parliament and a profound lack of understanding of our country's interests. This building stands for locked doors, contempt, oppression, and denying the past, the state and the public sphere. It is more than just a neutral, practical building offering space and comfy chairs in which the representatives of the people can doze off. ... The parliamentarians turn their backs on us in this building. More than that, they lock themselves up and refuse to hear our demands. Like Ceauşescu, they feel that they stand above us and the law in this palace, instead of serving the law and with it our interests. The building haunts us, it's a curse. ... As long as parliament continues to convene there it has no chance of becoming a normal institution." (28/11/2012)

ECONOMY

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i - Portugal

Portugal's austerity budget is utopian

Notwithstanding the mass protests Portugal's parliament approved the contentious austerity budget for 2013 on Tuesday. It was simply boxed through by the votes of the MPs of the liberal-conservative government with no regard for the reality of the situation, the liberal daily i comments: "Prime Minister Passos Coelho has been busy limiting the damage: he brought his MPs to heel and also tamed the [coalition party] CDS. … But it would have been better if the Minister of Finances Gaspar had presented a few correct calculations. … Particularly at a time when all the economic prognoses are pointing to an entirely different economic reality to that charted out by Gaspar, which is putting us on the same path as Greece. Since the Greeks are genuinely pursuing their goals they have been given more time and money. This shows that above all the targets that were set were wrong, not the efforts to achieve them. Hopefully the Portuguese, who have been sensible so far, will be able to profit from a similarly tolerant decision." (28/11/2012)

The Economist - United Kingdom

Fresh air for the Bank of England

Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of Canada, will become Governor of the Bank of England in June, the British Finance Ministry announced on Monday. The liberal magazine The Economist is delighted with the decision: "He has international pedigree. He chairs the Financial Stability Board (FSB), the body that has become an executive arm of the G20, and whose previous chief was Mario Draghi, now head of the European Central Bank. His other great virtue is that he is an outsider, both to the bank and to Britain. ... Mr Carney ... will bring some welcome fresh air to an institution that has often seemed insular and with too strong a hierarchy to allow challenges to its closely held articles of faith. It helps that on Mr Carney watch, Canada has been one of the few rich countries to have come through the financial crisis largely unscathed. He is a good communicator, and diplomatic skills will be needed to mediate conflicts between the bank's various policy arms." (27/11/2012)

La Stampa - Italy

Closure of Italian steelworks would be fatal

The Italian steel company Ilva has announced the closure of its steelworks in Taranto in southern Italy after the judiciary issued arrest warrants against the operators of the plant on Monday. They are allegedly responsible for the deaths of people who lived near the plant, owing to emissions of toxic dust and dioxin. The government's plan to issue a decree preventing the closure of the plant is justified, the liberal daily La Stampa writes: "The bitter irony of fate is that this Italy that wants to get rid of its steel is at the same time refusing to save an environmentally polluted city. Because only if Ilva continues production at the Taranto steelworks can the plant become a means of saving an environment that has been ravaged by negligent supervision. After the company management was able to act in a grossly negligent way for decades thanks to the lack of state controls, the idle state has now gone to the opposite extreme in answer to the court-ordered closure. This is a short-sighted, overly severe measure that will prove to be no less damaging." (28/11/2012)

De Standaard - Belgium

Free market wins out over public interests in Benelux

The inexpensive Train Benelux rail services between Belgium and the Netherlands will be replaced in December by the high-speed Fyra train service. Commuters in both countries are outraged. The free market has won out over public interests, the liberal Belgian daily De Standaard complains: "In the southern Netherlands travellers will now only be able to take the slow train between Antwerp and Roosendaal at the old and affordable price, but with more stops and a longer journey. Who said time is money? We're talking about progress here! ... In addition, reservation is mandatory for Fyra trains. Anyone who books too late or changes his plans must pay more. That penalises flexibility. ... To sum it up, travel will become considerably more expensive for almost all passengers. Long live ecologically responsible public transport, long live European integration! ... And all of this results, to quote the Dutch Transport Minister Melanie Schultz, from the 'European quest' for 'liberalisation' and 'minimum state intervention in cross-border transportation'. This is the doctrine that has led to our affliction." (28/11/2012)

CULTURE

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Helsingin Sanomat - Finland

Helsinki's Design Year was not in vain

Helsinki is World Design Capital for 2012. However according to a survey conducted by the daily Helsingin Sanomat only one fifth of the inhabitants of the greater Helsinki region took part in any of the numerous events. But that's no big deal, the liberal paper concedes: "The truly important thing about this year is that our citizens, decision-makers and business leaders have started to think seriously about design and planning. Good planning can make people's lives easier and more pleasant. In addition, it brings income - and fame - to Finnish companies and the country as a whole. Of course it's a shame that only one in five inhabitants went to any of the events organised for this special year. But it's not a catastrophe. After all, the goal wasn't to get the people to come out and start partying on the streets. ... The true result will only be visible in a couple of years. Then we'll see if good design is reflected in factory planning, the food offered to seniors or in the cityscape." (28/11/2012)

MEDIA

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Die Tageszeitung taz - Germany

Content protection law makes Google nervous

The Internet giant Google on Tuesday launched a campaign titled "Defend your net" against the planned intellectual property right for content that will be discussed in the German Bundestag on Thursday. The company wants to avoid having to pay for excerpts of text content that come up in search engine results. Someone is getting nervous now, the left-leaning daily taz comments: "The fact is that Google, quasi a monopolist when it comes to search engines, is not a neutral provider of services for the global online community. …. It is a publicly listed company with a clear goal: growth and maximum profit. … What is interesting is that so far the company has confidently made it clear that it has the upper hand: what newspaper, it has been argued, could afford not to be findable via Google on the World Wide Web? There is some truth to this - and this is what makes Google's volte-face all the more exciting: Does someone actually doubt that it is irreplaceable? … But incidentally this trial of strength won't bring progress on the real key issues, because they are namely the following: how can we protect the Internet against abuse of power by Google - and where can we get a replacement model for journalism on the Internet?" (28/11/2012)

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