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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 07/10/2013

 

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EU discusses how to deal with refugees

The number of victims rose to over 180 on the weekend. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

In the wake of the Lampedusa disaster Europe is discussing its refugee policy. France wants to put the issue on the agenda of the EU summit at the end of October, and Tuesday's meeting of EU interior ministers will also deal with the shipwreck tragedy. Commentators say Europe has turned a blind eye to the deaths on its borders for too long, and call for greater cooperation with the countries of origin.

Diário de Notícias - Portugal

Stop ignoring migrants' suffering

The EU must finally react to the refugee tragedies playing out on its borders, the liberal-conservative daily Diário de Notícias demands: "Sometimes it takes a terrible tragedy for decisions to be made. In other cases people react to dramas simply with announcements that are then quickly forgotten. Lampedusa - or for those trying to reach Europe the 'channel of death' - belongs in the second category. ... According to estimates since 1990 more than 8,000 (!) African migrants have drowned here in their attempts to cross the Mediterranean to Europe in fragile boats. ... After this most recent disaster several institutions have warned of the need to take urgent and effective measures. People are urging for a solution at top-level European meetings. Up to now however this issue has simply been forgotten and taken off the agendas." (07/10/2013)

Financial Times - United Kingdom

Work together with countries of origin

To prevent tragedies like the one off Lampedusa's coast the EU must start working together with the refugees' countries of origin, the conservative daily the Financial Times urges: "Europeans are used to reports of economic migrants drowning as they head for the Italian coastline. But the scale of this latest disaster - one of Italy's worst ever migrant shipwrecks - means EU leaders must focus a lot harder on how to stop such tragedies. ... The EU should try to establish partnerships on the issue of migration with those countries that are the source of refugees. This is difficult, given the poor governance in the states we are talking about. But common action - whether it means cracking down on human traffickers or allowing controlled migration of skilled workers to Europe - is essential." (06/10/2013)

Ilkka - Finland

Education helps in fight against poverty

Only once the prosperity gap between Europe and Africa is reduced will fewer people embark on the perilous journey northward, the liberal daily Ilkka writes: "The number of victims in the accident last week is very high, but unfortunately it's just the tip of the iceberg. According to the International Organisation for Migration, in the last two decades around 25,000 people have perished trying to cross the Mediterranean on the boats of human traffickers. And behind each number is a unique life. ... There is no quick fix for the problem of human trafficking. The criminals profit from the prosperity gap between Europe and Africa. Quite apart from the fact that action must be taken against such criminality, the prosperity gap must also be reduced. And to do that the education of women and girls is essential." (07/10/2013)

Kristeligt Dagbladet - Denmark

Opening up Europe won't solve Africa's problems

The instruments of refugee policy are not enough to prevent disasters like the Lampedusa tragedy, the Christian-oriented daily Kristeligt Dagblad contends: "You can't blame people for wanting to escape overpopulated and impoverished North Africa and making their way to Europe. But no one should entertain the illusion that Europe can solve Africa's problems by opening its borders. The only humane and sustainable course for the EU is to provide the region with massive development and humanitarian aid. The necessary development away from poverty in North Africa and the Middle East must happen in the region itself and not lead to the export of entire populations. Naturally this must also go hand in hand with the EU's commitment to continue taking in individually persecuted asylum-seekers." (07/10/2013)

POLITICS

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Večernji list - Croatia

Croatia can't celebrate EU membership

Croatia has been a full member of the EU for 100 days. The government's reluctance to take public stock of the country's membership so far is hardly surprising, according to the conservative daily Večernji List, for there is little to celebrate: "We have arrived in the EU like someone who arrives at a party at 3 a.m. after most of the guests have left and the bottles are all empty. The debt crisis has rocked Europe so we won't benefit from many of the positive effects of membership. We haven't registered a significant rise in foreign investment, taking out new loans hasn't become cheaper and we're not seeing a new sense of optimism either in the economy or society. But we ourselves are to blame for all our major problems and the EU could only ever be a source of aid in resolving them. ... However instead of using our first months of EU membership to polish up our image we have made a nuisance of ourselves [in the row over the EU arrest warrant] and driven away investors." (07/10/2013)

El Mundo - Spain

Franco dictatorship belongs to the past

The Argentinian judge María Servini on Wednesday issued an international arrest warrant against four former police officers under the Franco regime in Spain charged with having tortured political prisoners. One of the wanted men is Antonio González Pacheco who owing to his brutality earned the nickname "Billy the Kid" and who lives unpunished in Madrid. The conservative daily El Mundo opposes their extradition on the grounds that the perpetrators are protected under an amnesty law: "The Spanish judiciary cannot either pass sentence on or extradite Billy the Kid, just as it can't do so with the Eta terrorists who killed innocent people during the dictatorship. The amnesty law was a sovereign decision by the parliament to erase the past and start all over again. ... And it would be neither sensible nor expedient to start opening up old wounds now." (07/10/2013)

Rzeczpospolita - Poland

Moldova's Communists endanger Western integration

According to reports in the conservative daily Rzeczpospolita, representatives of the Communist Party in the Republic of Moldova want to prevent the signing of the country's association agreement with the EU through a referendum. This could also endanger the agreement with Ukraine, the newspaper fears: "The Communists are even prepared to topple the government and trigger new elections. The Republic of Moldova may not be among Poland's immediate neighbours, but if it strays from the path of closer ties with the European Union this will also have a negative impact on us. This negative stance could spread to Ukraine. And Ukraine should be a top priority for us. ... The polls show that the Communists would probably lose this referendum. But it would nonetheless make the approval of this document at the EU summit this November in Vilnius impossible." (07/10/2013)

REFLECTIONS

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Der Tagesspiegel - Germany

Andrea Dembach on "Mumsy" Merkel as a male fantasy

From "Mumsy" to "Black Widow" - the image of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the German public eye reflects macho clichés, journalist Andrea Dembach laments in the liberal daily Tagesspiegel: "She destroyed us, those who lost [Germany's parliamentary elections] say. ... More telling than such tales of back stabbing, however, is the fact that Germany's patriarchal political class looks at the chancellor through gender-based glasses. ... What could this depend on? Quite certainly on a rather outdated but alas still virulent image of women. 'Mumsy' must forgive disloyalty, she must be loving even when she's made fun of, and she can make no demands of her own. 'Mumsy' is however an entirely inappropriate image for describing a political personality. And on top of that, the step from the caring mama to the murderous (to men) boa constrictor is as short as that from Madonna to whore. But the boa is also unfitting as an image for understanding Merkel. It's nothing but a male fantasy. ... Because if people finally started seeing Merkel as a politician and not as a woman, or rather a cliché of a woman, then we could finally start talking about her politics - for the good of Germany and Europe." (07/10/2013)

Ependytis - Greece

Giannis Kibouropoulos on the banality of evil in Greece

Columnist Giannis Kibouropoulos uses the German political theorist Hannah Arendt's term "banality of evil" in the liberal daily Ependytis to describe how neo-Nazism has gained a foothold in Greek society: "Of all of Golden Dawn's actions, gaining power has been the most important basis for legitimising the 'banality of evil', just as it has been in the past with other parties. The disappearance both of personal morals and of a minimum standard of the 'banality of good' ("thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, ...") has never been the exception but rather the rule. ... The 'banality of evil' has become an abhorrent routine, to which most of the population has become dangerously accustomed. ... The problem with this 'evil' is that it has become appallingly banal. ... Now however the neo-Nazis have made a quantum leap, in violating the most fundamental commandment of civilised society: they have killed. When even murder becomes banal for the sake of bloody propaganda or as a means for intimidating political opponents, the gates of hell open wide." (06/10/2013)

ECONOMY

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La Stampa - Italy

Twitter IPO more important than shutdown

The US texting service Twitter has announced its IPO for this week. The news has generated more interest than the US federal budget blockade, the liberal daily La Stampa notes: "For the financial world - and perhaps the real economy too - the flotation of Twitter, with its 220 million users, on the stock exchange is a more historic moment than the blockade of the US budget. ... The row in Washington has prompted columnists and bloggers to mourn the death of the American dream. But the Cassandras, the harbingers of bad news, are looking in the wrong direction. Decades ago the American dream moved away from the capital to Silicon Valley, to the universities and heads of Mexican, Indian and Chinese immigrants who still see the US as the promised land. The 'shutdown' has revealed that the US government is not essential to the smooth functioning of the country." (06/10/2013)

Novinar - Bulgaria

Migration from the Balkans good for EU

As of 1 January 2014, Romanians and Bulgarians will be free to work anywhere in the EU. Instead of fearing them, the prosperous EU countries should realise that the influx of workers from the East also brings advantages, the daily Novinar writes: "A large majority of the Romanians and Bulgarians [who have moved to Germany] have done much to further Germany's economic growth, and the fear of a flood of migrants is unfounded. This is the view taken by EU Employment Commissioner László Andor. And more importantly, Angela Merkel sees things exactly the same way. She even goes as far as saying that in the future Germany will be in urgent need of qualified migrant workers. At last the leaders of some EU countries are starting to realise that Bulgarians and Romanians aren't just shady characters from the Balkans whose only goal is to exploit the welfare systems of rich countries, but that many of them make a substantial contribution to economic growth." (06/10/2013)

Bakchich.info - France

Sunday working ban redundant

The French DIY retailers Castorama and Leroy Merlin appealed a court ruling last week that obliges them to close their stores in the Paris Region on Sundays. The left-leaning online magazine Bakchich.info finds the Sunday working ban behind the times: "Nurses, journalists, people who work for power companies, police, doctors who are on call, breakdown mechanics, waiters, they all work on Sundays. ... One in three French people of working age work on Sundays either occasionally or regularly. ... Meaning that the question of whether they should work on Sunday has in fact already been settled. Or rather: with the evolution of consumer demand, with the flexibility of 'recuperation days' linked to the 35-hour working week, and above all with changing mentalities that no longer consider the 'day of the Lord' as holy, the question of work on Sunday has lost its meaning. ... And the argument that such work is in effect forced labour doesn't hold water either. ... Can you say that an airline pilot who flies on Sundays is forced to do so?" (07/10/2013)

SOCIETY

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Hürriyet - Turkey

Turkey shouldn't play games with minority rights

The Orthodox priests' seminary on the island of Heybeliada near Istanbul has been closed since 1971. The conservative daily Hürriyet criticises that despite repeated announcements that it would be reopened this was not part of the reform package announced last month by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: "The priests' seminary would satisfy a need of the Christian citizens who are also citizens of this country, pay taxes and fulfil their obligations. You, as the government, also accept that this is a legitimate demand. The opening of a mosque in Athens is also a legitimate demand. On the one hand you say reopening the seminary is legitimate but on the other you make this contingent on a step to be taken by Greece? If the Greek governments never recognise these rights [of the Turkish minority] does that mean you won't grant your own citizens such rights? What right do you have to make the fulfilment of their wish conditional on Greece making a concession to the Muslims living there?" (07/10/2013)

MEDIA

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Ziare - Romania

Media control through back door in Romania

According to a draft amendment to Romania's insolvency laws that has been presented to parliament for approval, in future broadcasting companies that are undergoing insolvency proceedings can have their licences withdrawn. A regulation whereby creditors can apply for this as soon as a broadcaster owes the equivalent of 9,000 euros turned up in the legislation only after it was approved by the cabinet on Wednesday. The news portal Ziare.com suspects an attack on press freedom: "Unless the parliament amends them these newly introduced regulations will open a back door for the government and all institutions with political clout to gain control of any TV or radio broadcaster that dares adopt a critical or inconvenient stance and plunge it into bankruptcy. ... Thanks to the instruments under its control the government can exert enormous pressure on all television broadcasters." (07/10/2013)

LOCAL COLOURS

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Diena - Latvia

Sentimental Latvians love their "Lat it be"

Three months before Latvia introduces the euro, a song bidding farewell to the country's currency, the lats, has become a Youtube hit. In the song "Paldies latiņam" (Thank you, little lats), the British-German duo "Ārzemnieki" ("the foreigners") sings in pidgin Latvian about their experiences with the currency. The daily Diena explains why the song is such a hit: "For one thing the song is so popular because we all know we'll never use the lats again. The song is like a monument to the Latvian currency, and harks back to the old Latvian folk songs. ... Why do we have to try out something new when what we've got is good enough? the song asks. This schlockiness is certainly one of the reasons why many Latvians love the song. Within just a few weeks the video, which ends with the modified Beatles lyric 'Lat it be', has been viewed almost a hundred thousand times." (06/10/2013)

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