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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 18/01/2013

 

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Mali conflict spills over into Algeria

Hostages from Western states were apparently among the victims at the gas plant In Aménas. (© AP/dapd)

 

According to reports in the media, more than 30 people died on Thursday during an attempt by the Algerian army to end the hostage situation in the Sahara. Islamists had taken over a natural gas plant on Wednesday and allegedly demanded an end to the military operations in Mali. Commentators point out that radical Islamists are gaining ground in many Muslim countries, but the West won't be able to defeat the terrorists with the force of arms alone.

De Morgen - Belgium

Mali crisis turns into international conflict

The hostage drama in Algeria has turned the French intervention in Mali into an international conflict, the left-liberal daily De Morgen warns: "'Boots on the ground' may sound harsh, but in today's Mali it refers to joining the fight against a conglomerate of heavily armed Islamist militia most of whom have ties to groups fighting in countries like Mauretania and Algeria. It has become evident in the past two days that this raises the risk of unforeseen complications. In Algeria, fighters attacked a BP gas plant in protest at the French intervention, taking 41 foreign nationals and 150 Algerians hostage. The Algerian army launched a risky attack against the plant yesterday, which has turned into a fiasco. ... The war in Mali has morphed from a serious regional conflict into an international crisis that puts citizens in Europe, Asia and the United States in a particularly dangerous situation." (18/01/2013)

Sydsvenskan - Sweden

Al-Qaida's ideas live on

The hostage drama in Algeria makes it clear that the terrorist network al-Qaida and its ideologists are still alive and kicking, the liberal daily Sydsvenskan writes: "In North Africa and the Middle East, the number of relatively stable states is gradually dwindling. In many places local Islamists and foreign holy warriors threaten to take power. ... Luckily, groups like al-Qaida are not able to carry out terrorist attacks in the West just like that. At the same time, however, we are seeing in many places that Islamist groups are gaining control over territories or even entire states. This development is extremely worrying. Hamas has already created a mini-state in Gaza. Hezbollah is the real power in Lebanon. The Taliban is just waiting for the foreign troops to leave the country, and neighbouring Pakistan is partially controlled by the Taliban. In this broader context, whether al-Qaida is losing ground in one way or another is certainly not the decisive issue." (18/01/2013)

Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

Yet another pointless war

The bloodbath in Algeria proves that the military campaign in Mali is doomed to fail, political scientist Vittorio Emanuele Parsi contends in the liberal business paper Il Sole 24 Ore: "So far the only 'successes' of the new French military campaign in Africa have been two tragic side-effects: the hostage crisis in the gas field in Algeria and the death of a French hostage in Somalia. The conflict in Mali seems to be related to the last campaign to protect Europe in Libya. Particularly since the alleged 'victory' achieved through weapons in Libya it seems the use of violence - or war, to call a spade a spade - increasingly misses the political target in the name of which it was initiated. ... So instead of working out a perfect strategy and tactics it would be far more sensible to rely on the political and economic instruments at our disposal - before we found ourselves caught up in the umpteenth 'war against terrorism' out of which the military will have to extricate us because the politicians have been incapable of setting realistic goals and making available the justified and necessary resources." (18/01/2013)

Delo - Slovenia

Europe lands itself with its own Afghanistan

The fact that radical Islamists clearly want to put an end to French military intervention in neighbouring Mali with their hostage-taking in Algeria shows that Europe has learned nothing from past mistakes, the left-liberal daily Delo writes: "It's as if Europe hasn't learned anything from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, where nowadays no one dares intervene. As if we had no way of knowing that military force wouldn't get us anywhere. Armed superpowers may be able to drive the 'terrorists' into a corner for a while. But without the cooperation of local forces and their democratic maturity, any conflict will eventually turn into a colonial military occupation. After all its mistakes and after apparently having underestimated Africa and the Arab Spring, Europe is now facing its very own Afghanistan. To what extent common European foreign policy is to blame for this is a good question. Nevertheless it's clear that the repercussions will affect everyone and that the EU is not up to this task without help from the US." (18/01/2013)

Kurier - Austria

Put an end to the spectre of terrorism

The states of Europe must join forces in a military offensive against Islamist terror, the liberal daily Kurier demands: "Ministers in Berlin once vociferously defended the intervention in Afghanistan on the grounds that Germany's security was being defended in the Hindu Kush. And today? Berlin might chip in with a few transport planes. Very ambitious. The British are also taking cover - no combat troops. Austria, for it's part, has no time for this burning issue anyway: the party wrangling about compulsory military service or a professional army is paralysing everything. That's downright irresponsible. The radical Islamists in the Sahel are exceedingly well-armed and well-networked. ... And the fight against them is no walk in the park. But what is the alternative? To let them do as they please. ... No, Europe must close ranks, march together and cooperate with the African states to put an end to the spectre of terrorism. The risk of failure (see Afghanistan) cannot be denied. But doing nothing would be even more dangerous." (17/01/2013)

POLITICS

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The Daily Telegraph - United Kingdom

Tories must fight, not resign

British Prime Minister David Cameron announced on Thursday that he would not deliver his speech on Britain's future in the EU on Friday, as planned, but postpone it because of the hostage crisis in Algeria. The conservative daily sees Cameron's zigzag path as symptomatic for his entire party: "Perhaps the biggest Tory failing, so far, has been to look at the future with a feeling of fatalism and resignation. When the economic headwinds strengthened, Osborne should have doubled his resolve rather than abandon his deficit target. And if the polls and pundits point to a Tory defeat, then it's a comment on the party as it is now; bolder, stronger Conservatives with a clearer message would meet a different fate. As Mr Osborne told the activists on Wednesday, there are two long years to the next election - and a big choice to be made, one that involves more than a European referendum. There is a great deal that can still be done before the Tories start mourning their lost majority." (17/01/2013)

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

Exile doesn't disqualify Schwarzenberg

In the run-up to the second round in the Czech presidential election incumbent conservative President Václav Klaus has openly endorsed the former centre-left Prime Minister Miloš Zeman. He said he wanted a president who had spent his entire life in his home country, noting that Zeman's conservative opponent Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg had spent 40 years in exile. The conservative daily Lidové noviny rejects Klaus's position: "The discontinuity in Czech developments led to part of the elite going into exile abroad. This elite, to which Schwarzenberg belongs, nonetheless remained part of Czech culture and society even if it didn't live here. Once the enforced discontinuity ended, they returned. Does this mean they belong any less to this country than others? ... If only those who have spent their entire life here and learned to be obedient and tell lies under the communists are allowed to become president, we limit our choice of candidates. Without doubt there were those who stayed who didn't bow to the communists. But how many of them were there?" (18/01/2013)

El Mundo - Spain

Spain degenerating into kleptocracy

In the investigations against Luis Bárcenas, the former treasurer of Spain's ruling People's Party (PP), in the so-called "Gürtel case", the examining magistrate has uncovered a Swiss bank account containing 22 million euros. In the eyes of the conservative daily El Mundo Spain has sunk deep into a swamp of corruption: "Today's Spain is not very different from the Italy of the 1980s, when a large section of the political class ended up in prison. This won't happen here because the network of the corrupt is far more robust thanks to the intertwining of political, financial and certain media companies' interests. The worst thing about this Spain is that our leaders are pretending to be unaware of what is going on and acting like these are isolated cases. This is not true. The parties and institutions are demonstrating a condemnable laxity in their handling of this phenomenon, which is causing Spain to cease being a democracy and degenerate into a kleptocracy. This is the fundamental cause of the decline of our country." (18/01/2013)

ECONOMY

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Les Echos - France

Boeing will get over Dreamliner debacle

A worldwide flying ban was effectively imposed on the Dreamliner, currently Boeing's most important plane, on Thursday. After a series of technical failures, aviation authorities across the globe followed the example of the US's FAA and grounded the planes. Boeing must now carry out comprehensive technical improvements, but once this has been done the company will soon be able to make up for lost time, the liberal business paper Les Echos writes: "The problems of the 787 pose a fundamental question for all companies that rely on innovation as a motor for progress: can you continue to innovate in times of security and media hype? The answer, of course, is yes. If not there would be no aviation industry. The challenge Boeing and all companies threatened by industrial catastrophes face is to go 'back to basics'. Analysis, procedural work, re-examination of each part of the puzzle. No doubt this titanic task - which is the daily grind of industrial companies - will allow Boeing's ultra-modern aircraft to take flight once again." (17/01/2013)

Diário Económico - Portugal

Markets give Portugal chance of comeback

Just under two years after bidding its farewell to the capital markets Portugal secured fresh money at considerably reduced interest rates on Wednesday and is preparing for a comeback. The liberal business paper Diário Económico hopes that it will make the most of this opportunity, noting that otherwise economic recovery will be impossible: "The days leading up to the seventh troika inspection on February 25 will decide whether this country takes advantage of the opportunity the markets have given it. The government wants to return to the capital markets as quickly as possible. ….. And it's easy to see why: it has the chance to show that it's on the right path. Words are no longer enough, it's time for facts. Particularly before the painful discussion about the reform of the state is addressed, the goal of which is to reduce public spending by another four billion euros in the next two years. It is the second respite for a government that after only 18 months in office is already showing signs of political and social wear and tear as if it were at the end of its term." (18/01/2013)

Keskisuomalainen - Finland

Finland must not pin hopes on global upturn

Along with the Finnish forestry industries company UPM, Nokia also announced further job cuts on Thursday. It's time to introduce structural reforms in Finland, the liberal daily Keskisuomalainen urges: "Traditionally our economy has been strong in comparison with the rest of Europe, but now the situation is changing noticeably. We're becoming weaker, and there is no sign of a turnaround without economic impulses from abroad. With regard to economic policy, the big question is what the global economy will look like in the next two or three years. If the world is in recession, Finland as an export nation will find itself in difficulties. If international growth continues and if demand for capital goods also increases, our economy will correct itself practically on its own. So the situation seems unclear, meaning it could be risky to wait for a generalised economic upturn. For that reason it's time to carry out structural budget reforms, for example regarding the retirement age, and to create the context for a more competitive business sector." (18/01/2013)

SOCIETY

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Népszava - Hungary

Roma are not criminals

The right-wing extremist journalist Zsolt Bayer unleashed a storm of protest in Hungary at the beginning of January with a harsh commentary in which he described Roma who inflicted serious injuries on two young Hungarians in a knife fight as "cowardly, despicable, harmful animals". The left-leaning daily Népszava tries to dispel the widespread misconception in Hungary that all Roma are criminals: "Knife fights occur everywhere, and it's not just Roma who get involved in them. ... To describe these people as animals is unacceptable. Even criminals are human beings. ... And resolving the situation of the Hungarian Roma is not just a matter of fighting crime, because the Roma are not criminals. Yes, there are criminals among the Roma, and yes, their number is greater than among the non-Roma. But this is due to the different social situations in which Roma and non-Roma live. The plight of the Roma can only be improved through empathy, solidarity, cooperation, integration and concrete programmes." (16/01/2013)

Deutschlandfunk - Germany

Church must press on with abuse study

The German Bishops' Conference presented on Thursday a report on the hotline for victims of abuse by Catholic priests. In two years just under 8,500 calls came in. The public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk calls for the same transparency with regard to the abuse study that was recently discontinued: "The report shows that the cases of abuse did not come about by chance. Catholic priests deviously gained the trust of their victims, only to abuse it. One of the most perfidious aspects of their crimes was telling their victims that the abuse was the will of God. ... It has been discussed on various occasions whether it is too early to discontinue the hotline set up in March 2010. ... For now it is more important that the Bishops' Conference find an academically irreproachable partner for its abuse study. ... Because if the slightest doubt remains as to whether the research institute might disregard unpleasant truths, the loss of trust will be irreparable." (18/01/2013)

Lrt - Lithuania

Lithuania stingy with its citizenship

Ever since the US ice dancer Isabella Tobias was denied Lithuanian citizenship at the start of January, a discussion has been raging in Lithuania over citizenship rights. Tobias had hoped to represent the country in the 2014 Winter Olympics together with the Lithuanian ice dancer Deividas Stagniūnas. The regulations are too strict, political scientist Tomas Janeliūnas argues on the online portal of LRT radio station: "The need to defend the interests of foreigners who want to support Lithuania and raise its profile on the world stage is just one aspect of the issue. ... The process of acquiring Lithuanian citizenship through naturalisation is one of the most difficult in Europe. You have to have lived in Lithuania for at least ten years - or seven, if you're married to a Lithuanian citizen. ... In this context we come across as heathens who are proud that they will be the last ones to give in to globalisation. But even more complicated and painful for Lithuania is that dual citizenship is not permitted." (17/01/2013)

SPORT

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Wprost Online - Poland

Guardiola wants to slack off in Munich

The former coach of FC Barcelona, Pep Guardiola, will take over in July as coach of the German football team FC Bayern Munich. The job won't pose much of a challenge for the star coach, writes the conservative news portal Wprost Online: "This is the proof that the Spaniard simply wants peace and quiet. ... The coach has selected the top club in the German Bundesliga. The fact that this team has lost the German football championships to Borussia Dortmund twice in a row can really only be seen as an occupational accident. This year Bayern will most certainly be the champions, and most likely next year as well. The team regularly wins the German championships, and in the Champions League they either make it into the finals or come very close - just like Barcelona. Guardiola is certainly in no danger of losing his reputation as a miracle coach. That's normally out of the question in Munich. ... But it also shows he's not willing to take on a real challenge." (18/01/2013)

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