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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 17/01/2013

 

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EU prepares for mission in Mali

France deployed ground forces against the Islamists for the first time on Wednesday. (© AP/dapd)

 

The EU foreign ministers hope to reach a consensus on a training mission for Mali's military at their emergency meeting today, Thursday. However they continue to reject the idea of joint military intervention. Europe must prevent the creation of an Islamist terrorist state on its doorstep, some commentators demand. Others argue that Mali is purely a French issue.

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

Mali is France's problem, not Europe's

The foreign ministers of the EU states have convened for an emergency meeting in Brussels on the crisis in Mali this Thursday morning. It remains open whether France's desire for greater European involvement will be addressed. The conservative daily Lidové noviny advises against such action: "Is there any argument in favour of concerted European intervention? Paris would welcome greater commitment on Europe's part and has made no bones about this. Whether they like it or not the Europeans must, however, keep in mind that France in the end remains France and is doing what it always does. Let us remember where and how France defends its interests. When it comes to the Mediterranean, the Arab world and North Africa France is always active. But when in August 2008 Georgia had to fight off a Russian offensive it was Paris that opposed any steps against Moscow and threatened to put a stop to the EU partnership with the eastern states. With all due respect, it's only logical now that Mali is France's problem, not Europe's." (17/01/2013)

El País - Spain

Europe must prevent terrorist state

Islamist militants have taken control of a natural gas field in Algeria on Wednesday. According to reports at least two people died during the attack and a number of foreigners have been taken hostage. Europe and Mali's neighbouring countries must join forces and back France's resolute action, the left-liberal daily El País urges: "Europe cannot allow a Jihad state to be created in Mali, practically on its doorstep. And nor can its neighbours allow this to happen. Above all Algeria, which until now has refused to act, has much to lose. The North African arm of al-Qaida attacked buildings and kidnapped an unspecified number of foreigners on its territory yesterday. ... With his decisive reaction, French President François Hollande has gained stature at home and abroad. But the objective cannot only be to 'destroy the terrorists', as he described his intention. This is not just about Mali, the entire Sahel has become an Islamist powder keg that must be defused. But to do that, weapons alone will not be enough." (17/01/2013)

De Telegraaf - Netherlands

Only logistical support for France

The Dutch want to support France in the Mali conflict by deploying transport planes. The right decision, the conservative tabloid De Telegraaf writes: "Apart from the dangers posed by the territorial advances of a terrorist group, this problematic corner of Africa is facing a humanitarian disaster as a result of the huge flood of refugees the war could set in motion. For that reason the Dutch cannot just sit back and look on, but must join the international coalition against the rebels. ... But the government needs greater public approval even for this limited deployment. ... Because many Dutch citizens are concerned about the prospect of what could potentially be a protracted ground war under French leadership in a country situated in far-away Africa. A country that has been a wasps' nest for years and that has received a great deal of international development aid. For that reason there can be no question of a carte blanche for further Dutch military deployment." (17/01/2013)

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

Military intervention alone won't bring peace

In the battle against Islamist rebels France deployed ground forces in Mali on Wednesday. But military intervention won't be enough to establish enduring peace in the country, the liberal-conservative Neue Zürcher Zeitung contends: "In Africa, where regional organisations with a military component are still in the initial stages of development, the Nato states have no option but to take action when it comes to defending their security interests. ... The Europeans, as President François Hollande has rightly pointed out, can't simply delegate this unpleasant task to the US. ... One of the lessons Afghanistan has taught us is that the armed forces alone are not up to the task of fighting terrorism. They can temporarily force back rebels with well targeted strikes. ... But permanent peace can only come from an approach that takes account of all society and the deeper causes of political violence. Without credible local partners - this is another thing Afghanistan has taught us - any intervention from abroad runs the danger of eventually being perceived as an occupying regime." (17/01/2013)

POLITICS

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Die Zeit - Germany

Dijsselbloem is a questionable Mr. Euro

The Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem is expected to be named the new leader of the Euro Group at the meeting of Eurozone finance ministers on Monday. The liberal weekly newspaper Die Zeit believes the 46-year-old, who has only held his post since November, is too inexperienced: "The Dutchman is not being appointed because there's something to say for him. Even for his European colleagues he is still an unknown quantity. His nomination is much more the result of a bizarre round of eeny meeny miny moe: 17 European finance ministers were looking for a leader and at the end the last candidate was the one there was the least to say against. Wolfgang Schäuble, who had raised his hand for the post, struck many as too German. The Frenchman Pierre Moscovici, in turn, was ruled out because Schäuble was. Malta and Estonia were considered too small to apply, and candidates from the crisis countries Spain, Portugal and Ireland were also eliminated from the outset. ... The Europeans' decision to give one of their most important tasks to someone who is largely unknown is at the very least highly questionable." (17/01/2013)

El Periódico de Catalunya - Spain

Obama declares war on gun lobby

US President Barack Obama presented his proposals for tighter gun laws on Wednesday. As commendable as this initiative may be it will be difficult to implement, the left-liberal daily El Periódico de Catalunya fears: "Even before his second term has officially started, an extremely belligerent Obama is proposing a barrage of 23 measures to reduce the violence caused by firearms - well aware that the fight to have the main ones approved in Congress will be extremely tough. ... The killing spree at the school in Newtown has driven Obama to face this challenge, with an uncertain outcome. To get an idea of the difficulties of this enterprise it's enough to know that since the president announced his intention to limit sales of firearms, they have risen sharply, especially sales of the kind of assault weapons used in the most recent massacres." (17/01/2013)

Le Monde - France

US shale gas makes Europe superfluous

Shale gas production in the US has grown enormously in recent years, accounting for 37 percent of its energy production in 2012. The new global balance of power is being constructed on US soil right now, the economist Hugues Poissonnier contends in the left-liberal daily Le Monde: "Shale gas is allowing the US to reduce its energy dependence, and calling into question one of the strategic priorities of the US: the stability of oil supplies from the countries of the Middle East. The price of this stability has been protecting sea routes and playing the role of the police in the countries concerned. If the economic context now justifies less foreign intervention and greater focus on domestic production, it is foreseeable that the US will enter a phase of isolationism. ... Power relations between the major players are set to make a dramatic shift." (17/01/2013)

Diena - Latvia

Georgia between two stools

Georgia's new Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze travelled to Riga on her first official foreign visit on Monday and emphasized her country's efforts towards integration in the West. The daily Diena expresses understanding for this position but sees it as irreconcilable with her country's improved relations with Russia: "The foreign minister was at a loss to explain how this apparently impossible goal since the 1990s can be achieved - moving towards the West while at the same time improving relations with Moscow. Only once the irreconcilability of these two objectives has been recognised will the path that leads to the West become easier. ... Unofficially, a state with territorial problems like Georgia's [with Abkhazia and South Ossetia] cannot join Nato. However one could also argue that constant airspace surveillance could deter quite a few [of Nato's] enemies." (17/01/2013)

ECONOMY

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Corriere della Sera - Italy

Only sinking interest can counter strong euro

The price of the euro dipped for a while on Wednesday after outgoing Euro Group President Jean-Claude Juncker described the single currency's exchange rate as "dangerously high". Juncker is right with his controversial statement, which means Germany should finally approve a lowering of the key interest rate as an expedient measure, the liberal-conservative Corriere della Sera comments: "There is the danger that the rise in the euro's exchange rate could be too rapid for the real economy and will put those countries that need to gain ground in terms of competitiveness, like Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy, at a disadvantage. This is why the Euro Group boss has warned of the risks of an overvalued euro. There is an effective means for countering this: lowering the interest rate. The European Central Bank should overcome its doubts and do this at the next meeting of its governing council. The decision should be easier now, and also meet with the approval of Germany's Bundesbank, particularly since Germany has also ceased to grow [Germany expects a growth rate of just 0.4 percent for 2013]." (17/01/2013)

Večer - Slovenia

Put entire financial sector in chains

Stricter rules will apply for rating agencies in the European Union as of this coming spring. The European Parliament ruled on Wednesday that the agencies among other things will be held liable for giving false information. The conservative daily Večer calls for sanctions for other agents in the financial sector as well: "Chains of stricter rules must be put on the entire financial sector; it needs to be downsized and cast from its throne. The real economy, which creates jobs and generates tax revenues, must be reinstated in the dominant position. The states need the money the real economy generates for financing schools and social services, healthcare services, the judiciary and the police. This can be guaranteed by getting rid of the current system of financial capitalism. Because in the present system all that counts is the owners making as much profit as possible, and the citizens are just a means to that end." (17/01/2013)

SOCIETY

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Ta Nea - Greece

Greek jails inhumane

A court in the northern Greek seaport of Igoumenitsa admitted on Friday that it had acquitted 17 paperless migrants who escaped from a prison because of the inhuman conditions in November. The president of the National Commission for Human Rights, Kostis Papaioannou, welcomes the move in the left-liberal daily Ta Nea: "It's a shockingly simple decision, and for that reason it is particularly important. ... The Greek judiciary cannot ignore forever that hundreds of people are sitting in prisons that are not equipped to hold prisoners in the long-term. Whether it be cells in police stations or detention centres for foreigners (above all in the border area of Evros): the inhumane conditions that prevail there dehumanise the prisoners. The court has rightly refused to turn a blind eye to this misery that is known to everyone but has never been officially acknowledged." (16/01/2013)

Trud - Bulgaria

Bulgarian students resist discrimination

Bulgarian students plan to sue the UK on the grounds that for years British authorities have been putting up bureaucratic hurdles to prolong the process through which students from Bulgaria can obtain work permits. The daily Trud is proud of them: "Bulgarian students won't be deterred by the fact that Britain is blocking the Bulgarians' access to the labour market. On the contrary: it only makes them more determined to fight for their rights, and they will win. They may live in a foreign country, but they don't see themselves as second-class citizens, like other Bulgarians do. And they aren't. Instead of complaining, Bulgarian students are uniting to take Britain to court, and they have good chances of winning. And when they do they won't celebrate their success as a major victory but will simply say: we have fought for our right to work and we have obtained it." (16/01/2013)

Sme - Slovakia

Young Slovakians love "Hotel Mama"

According to a study by Eurostat, young people remain at home longer in Slovakia than in any other European country. Half a million Slovaks aged between 25 and 34 are still living with their parents, the study finds. This widespread use of "Hotel Mama" serves a purpose, comments the liberal daily Sme: "If we feel bad about the study we only need wait until July, when Croatia joins the EU. The percentage of youths living at home there is even higher than it is here. Of course that doesn't mean we don't need to explain what's behind these figures. ... One explanation is that you will find the most households with several generations where the tradition of the Christian family is strongest. We also adhere to this tradition, and find it more pleasant to have family members living with us than strangers who pay rent. So the statistics don't show that we live any worse, just that we live differently." (17/01/2013)

SPORT

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De Morgen - Belgium

Entire cycling sport is just an illusion

US presenter Oprah Winfrey's TV interview with former cycling pro Lance Armstrong will be broadcast this Thursday and Friday, and has already generated plenty of discussion. Armstrong is unfairly being cast as the sole villain in the doping scandal, stresses writer Bert Wagendorp in the left-liberal daily De Morgen: "We ourselves have created the big glass palace of top-level sports in which nothing is what is seems. A world in which we celebrate artists as long as they maintain the illusion. But when they are exposed, we suddenly turn into extreme moralists, preachers of all that is pure and beautiful. We refuse to look in the mirror and confront our own hypocrisy. This is the image we want: Lance Armstrong is the devil. ... In the Armstrong scandal, a large section of the media joined in the process of simplifying the truth, handing down facile judgements and delivering cheap sermons. ... But true fans [of cycling] always knew they were just watching a spectacle in which it was not always clear where the truth stopped and the fiction began." (17/01/2013)

LOCAL COLOURS

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Adevârul - Romania

Bucharesters will defy curfew

The Bucharest city council plans to introduce a curfew for the old part of town where there are more than 200 bars. According to the planned by-law, beer gardens and other restaurants may only serve guests out of doors until 10 p.m. Like many others, bar owner Claudiu Leonte sees the measure as nothing but a joke, as he writes in the daily newspaper Adevărul: "No doubt sirens will be installed to sound when it's time for everyone to go to bed. And those who are still awake will have to take to their heels, with their wieners in their mouths and their beer glasses down their trousers. After all, this is an order from the City Hall. Patrols by residents and the police will make sure absolute silence reigns after the curfew. Every bar caught peddling contraband snacks and schnapps will be eradicated. ... But the problem is: Bucharesters don't go to bed so early. ... They count among life's winners because they know how to enjoy it - more than others. And there's nothing a curfew can do about that." (17/01/2013)

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