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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 22/03/2013



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Cyprus wants to save itself

The ECB announced that it would withdraw its emergency loans for Cypriot banks if the bailout package hasn't been agreed by Monday. (© dapd)


The Cypriot parliament will vote on an alternative plan for the country to contribute to the bailout package today, Friday. The plan foresees the establishment of a fund using capital from pension funds and Church property that would also issue bonds. But who would buy such bonds, commentators ask, and conclude at the end of the week that the crisis management tactics of Cyprus and the Euro Group have been catastrophic.

Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

Europe must reject Cyprus's sham deal

The alternative bailout plan for Cyprus is completely implausible, writes the left-liberal Süddeutsche Zeitung, wondering who in the world would be prepared to buy the bonds in question: "How is such a fund supposed to make a profit and give the investor a return on his investment? Will the pensions not be paid out if the fund runs into trouble? Europe's governments must reject this sham deal. They should insist on the Cypriots footing part of the bill so it's not just the EU taxpayers who are saddled with the costs. But they must go differently about raising the Cypriot contribution. The problems come from the banks, and that is where the solutions should come from - through stronger participation of the shareholders and, because that still won't be anywhere near enough, putting a levy on deposits above 100,000 euros. They can afford it. This would protect small savers and in the long term decrease Cyprus's appeal as a haven for foreign money, which was the cause of all the problems." (22/03/2013)

Corriere del Ticino - Switzerland

Brussels has no respect for savers' cash

The Cypriot bailout action is a major disaster from which regardless of the outcome we must learn a terrible lesson, the liberal daily Corriere del Ticino contends, arguing that the EU is out to get the savers: "Brussels has repeatedly broken its word that savings of less than 100,000 euros would not be touched should a bank in the Eurozone collapse. … With diplomatic tact worthy of legends the EU has avoided involving Russia, despite Moscow's great interest in the economic fate of the island. … And we have learned something else from all this: why governments are so opposed to the use of hard cash. They claim it's for ethical reasons and to combat organised crime. But what they really want is that we leave all our money on our accounts so that it's easier for them to expropriate the small savers (who are least able to defend themselves). … You can bet your boots that, as has been the case with Cyprus, they'll find an elegant excuse for such tactics." (22/03/2013)

Cyprus Mail - Cyprus

Russia not an altruistic saviour

Cyprus's Finance Minister Michalis Sarris left Moscow again today, Friday. Amid initial uncertainty over whether the two sides had reached an agreement on Russian support for Cyprus, the English-language daily Cyprus Mail warns Cypriots not to expect too much from Russia: "The Russian government has no moral, legal or political obligation to give us a new loan or to save our insolvent banks and it is puzzling why Cypriots have such unreasonable expectations and spin tales about Russia acting as our saviour. The Russian Federation is not a charity organisation but a state which looks after its national interests and in case we have not realised these are not identical to the interests of Cyprus. Incredibly, this fantasy about Russia giving us billions has become so ingrained in people's minds that at Tuesday evening's demonstration ... people were waving flags of the Russian Federation. It will not be long before these false hopes will be shattered." (21/03/2013)

Le Jeudi - Luxembourg

Euro Group pushes Cyprus into role of victim

Catastrophic communication on the part of the Euro Group has allowed Cyprus to cast itself successfully as the victim, the left-liberal weekly Le Jeudi writes: "Hostility, anger, frustration, fear and incomprehension - this fifth European bailout plan is the source of a huge amount of resentment. In any case the Cypriots aren't the first to fear the worst, because more than the tax itself it's the fact that it was to be applied to everyone that is viewed as shameful. In sum, this is a political disaster for Brussels and for the Euro Group. Communication was never so badly mismanaged. Explanations for the bailout plan failed miserably, above all for the fact that the compulsory levy on bank deposits was merely to compensate for the 10 billion euros in support promised by the Europeans to maintain the Cypriot banks afloat. Now the leaders of the Eurozone are being attacked. Nicosia has succeeded perfectly in presenting itself as the victim of a diabolical Europe." (21/03/2013)


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El País - Spain

Chance for peace between Kurds and Turks

The imprisoned leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, on Thursday called on his Kurdish underground movement to cease its attacks on Turkey. The left-liberal daily El País sees this as a historical chance for a solution to the Kurdish conflict: "It would be premature to start celebrating in view of this new situation. Given the tragic history of the Turkish state and its Kurdish minority, a certain scepticism is still warranted for the time being, especially since other attempts at a ceasefire have failed and there are powerful groups in Turkey who want to prevent a truce. But this time the facts point to peace. Öcalan, the undisputed leader of the Kurds who has been imprisoned for 14 years, explained in his message that it was time to silence the weapons and let the ideas talk. And he has ordered his fighters to withdraw from Turkish territory to the Iraqi area. … The most important argument for negotiations is the conviction that [in an armed conflict] neither of the two sides is in a position to win." (22/03/2013)

Diário de Notícias - Portugal

Follow PKK's example in Middle East conflict

US President Barack Obama appealed to the Israeli people directly in a speech on Thursday and urged them to seek peace with the Palestinians. The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which declared a ceasefire with Turkey on the same day, could be a role model for solving the Middle East conflict, the liberal-conservative daily Diário de Notícias hopes: "The words [of Kurdish leader] Öcalan show that it's possible to overcome the differences. They can set an example for the Middle East, where certain Israeli and Palestinian players insist on their extreme positions. Using unusually unambiguous words, Obama called yesterday on young Israelis to imagine everyday life under heavy military controls. An everyday life that is also similar to that of the Kurds - and not only in Turkey. … It has become clear that negotiations can end armed conflict." (22/03/2013)

Lietuvos rytas - Lithuania

Lithuanian government's honeymoon soon to end

Lithuania's government has been in office for 100 days. It is doing well in the polls and the prime minister, Social Democrat Algirdas Butkevičius, is currently the most popular politician in the country. But this honeymoon won't last forever, the liberal daily Lietuvos rytas predicts: "The current government is trying to avoid making quick movements or loud proclamations in order to steer clear of any risks, particularly in economic policy. … But the very factor that is now its greatest strength and the reason for its popularity is at the same its Achilles' heel. … What does the government's strategy for its relations with Gazprom and Russia look like? Will a new nuclear power plant be built or will this project of the preceding government be buried? … At some point the government will have to make decisions on the most controversial issues, and there's no way it can keep all the voters happy when it does." (21/03/2013)

Prospect Magazine - United Kingdom

Joseph Muscat reminiscent of Tony Blair

The social democrat Joseph Muscat was elected as the new prime minister of Malta on March 11. The left-liberal magazine Prospect draws parallels between Muscat and the former Labour leader and British prime minister Tony Blair: "Muscat has successfully detoxified Labour. But, like Blair, he will face the challenge of satisfying the competing needs of his new and old voters; those demanding lower taxes and wealth generation versus those in manufacturing and manual labour with shrinking wages, threatened by globalisation and immigration. Muscat will not lead his country to war, but he is leading a country in a fundamental state of redefinition. As the landslide result hides the still-present division in Malta, he must tread a fine line in balancing his priorities and avoiding entrenched interests. Malta is only a step away from re-embracing division and disharmony. If Muscat overreaches, Blair's fate may befall him too." (21/03/2013)

România Liberâ - Romania

Plagiarist Ponta is an insult to Romania

Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta will be allowed to keep his doctorate even though academic bodies have proven that much of his doctoral thesis was plagiarised. This was reported by Romanian media with reference to the Education Ministry, which has the last say on the matter. The daily România Liberă gives vent to its anger: "Time for outrage! Get indignant about the fact that Mr Ponta is being allowed to keep his doctor of law title even though the University of Bucharest, which awarded it, declared [in a legal opinion from last October] that it was plagiarised. What makes this all the more appalling is that [according to the law] the university is not even allowed to withdraw the title! Get indignant that our head of government has stolen intellectual property. He looks great on television, there's even speculation that he could become president, while the man who had the courage to stand up to him - the rector of the University of Bucharest - is at best ignored or at worst seeing his reputation dragged through the dirt." (22/03/2013)


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Rzeczpospolita - Poland

Cap on bankers' bonuses pure populism

Starting 2014, regular bonuses for bank managers may not exceed one year's salary, the EU resolved on Wednesday. The EU finance ministers had already given broad approval to the plan at the start of March, however further consultations were necessary after objections were voiced by the UK. The conservative daily Rzeczpospolita criticises the ruling as razzle-dazzle: "This is a further example of how politicians try to keep everyone happy, both consumers and companies. Now we have rules stipulating which light bulbs we can use or who businesses can elect as governors. And now they also tell us how high bankers' bonuses can be. Perhaps it would be better to follow the example of the Swiss, who decided in a referendum to give shareholders the right to determine salaries for top managers. At least that would make possible a genuine discussion of the results and strategic goals on the part of businesses. But as it stands now, the regulation is just political scheming aimed at snatching votes wherever possible." (22/03/2013)

Le Monde - France

London also saves in vain

The British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne on Wednesday presented a draft budget for 2013 - 2014 which foresees drastic cuts for the fourth time in a row. The left-liberal daily Le Monde believes the austerity policy is a failure: "The recipe was simple. Budget discipline was to renew trust, which in turn would spur growth. The budget was to be balanced, and that would then prompt recovery. Good old British common sense! That was the message from George Osborne, the energetic, spirited chancellor of the Exchequer. But nothing came of it. Since David Cameron took office in 2010, London's pitiless austerity programme has neither spawned growth nor put the public finances in order. But the Conservative George Osborne holds course. The situation on the other side of the English Channel is the same as it is in the Eurozone. The budget reorganisations - the austerity policies that is - have failed to boost the confidence of investors or consumers." (22/03/2013)

Hospodárske noviny - Slovakia

Czech Republic must not become Russian outpost

The biggest Eastern European bank, the Russian Sberbank, wants to establish an IT centre for Central Europe in the Czech Republic, the bank's CEO Herman Gref announces today, Friday, in an interview with the liberal business paper Hospodářské noviny. The paper views the plans with mixed feelings on its commentary page: "The Russian hockey league plays in the Czech Republic, the Russians are favourites for the development of the Temelin nuclear power plant, and now the biggest Russian bank wants to expand into our territory. Russian shops are springing up all over Prague, and whole settlements for rich Russians are being built in Karlovy Vary. ... That doesn't mean we're going to end up like Cyprus - as a Russian aircraft carrier in the waters of the EU. Business with Russia should be welcomed. But it would be good to know where the strategic red line lies that it would be better not to cross. So that we don't end up like Cyprus, which now has no option but to go begging to Moscow." (22/03/2013)

Világgazdaság - Hungary

Orbán secures favour of poorest tenants

Since the beginning of the year the Hungarian state has been paying ten percent of the heating and electricity costs for each household. The step has given the ruling Fidesz party a major boost in voter approval. No wonder, the business paper Világgazdaság comments, given that the measure brings considerable financial relief to many of the country's poor: "A family can save 7,500 forint [just under 25 euros] per month thanks to lower heating and electricity costs. … In Hungary there are many people for whom this is a considerable relief. … According to opinion research institute Tárki, the gross pay of the poorest ten percent is not even a quarter of the gross pay of the richest ten percent in the country. Three and a half times more Hungarians live in poverty than in 1987. … So this measure to relieve the poor is a clever move on the part of the government." (22/03/2013)


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La Stampa - Italy

Croatia - Serbia, more than a football match

For the first time since the collapse of Yugoslavia, the Croatian and Serbian national teams will play against each other on Friday in Zagreb. Far more is at stake than just the qualification for the World Cup, the liberal daily La Stampa stresses: "It won't be the famous teams from Zagreb and Belgrade that face off on Friday in the stadium that was once the scene of bitter fighting [on 13 May, 1990, during the game between Dinamo Zagreb and Red Star Belgrade], but the national teams of the independent states of Croatia and Serbia. The climate will no doubt be one of forced reconciliation. Hopefully Maksimir Stadium will not once more be the scene of a fratricidal war, as it was back then when the fans' enthusiasm ignited the first sparks of a fire. In both states the moderate populations hope that the reconciliation will be enduring, and not be marred by national fanaticism. Nevertheless you get the impression that 23 years and an entire generation later, the coals are still smouldering under the ashes." (20/03/2013)

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