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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 22/10/2013



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NSA scandal reaches France

The NSA reportedly recorded more than 70 million phone calls within a month. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


The US's NSA intelligence agency has apparently been intercepting French phone traffic on a massive scale. The newspaper Le Monde published details of the espionage on Monday, citing documents leaked by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The media-driven indignation over the spying affairs is leaving the general public cold, some commentators write. Others point out that Europe is finally taking data protection more seriously as a result of the disclosures.

The Daily Telegraph - United Kingdom

Spying among friends is legitimate

The NSA's surveillance in France does not represent an affront or a breach of trust but is standard practice among friends, the conservative newspaper The Daily Telegraph writes. "The disclosure that France is a target for US electronic espionage is about as much of a revelation as the news that restaurants in Paris are better than those in Washington. After all, France has been spying on its allies, including America, for generations. … We live in a world where nations compete. … In the end, a big contract will either go to a company from country A or from country B. The jobs and the industrial benefits will be reaped by one or the other. So it is wholly legitimate for A and B to try and gain an edge by any means, so long as no one actually gets hurt. So let's grow up about all this. Of course America spies on France, and France spies on America (and Germany too). It has always been this way; it always will be. And quite right too!" (21/10/2013)

Die Presse - Austria

Spying affair leaves people cold

The constant displays of indignation over the activities of the US intelligence agency NSA are desensitizing the public to the problem, the conservative daily Die Presse writes in view of the rather unsurprising disclosures of Le Monde: "The French Minister of the Interior Manuel Valls said he was 'shocked'. And the foreign minister was very angry. ... 'Indignation' in the reaction expected from government representatives after such 'disclosures'. But the news is not all that surprising. With reference to Snowden's stolen files Germany's Spiegel magazine had already reported in the summer that the Americans stored around two million pieces of French connection data daily. This more or less tallies with the information that is now being sold as new. ... Filled with indignation, people forget the things they've already got all upset about. But for the record: the media-driven outrage over the NSA is hardly making any impression on the citizens. Despite several cover stories it failed to have any impact whatsoever on the elections in Germany and Austria." (22/10/2013)

Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland

Snowden promotes European data protection

Snowden's revelations have finally prompted action to improve European data protection, the liberal daily Tages-Anzeiger comments: "Since Snowden fled to Hong Kong last spring, he has achieved more than all the other whistle-blowers before and after him. The suspicion that the surveillance extended to a large part of the free world has now been confirmed. ... This new reality has at least led to data protection being taken more seriously. A new EU regulation which had been talked about for 18 months cleared an important hurdle in the European Parliament yesterday. It will replace an old regulation that has been applied very disparately by the individual member states. If it also gets through the Council of Ministers, the states of the EU will jointly regulate data protection in the Internet age. For Switzerland, which has just initiated a similar revision, this would be an important signal." (22/10/2013)

Keskisuomalainen - Finland

Trust between EU and US shattered

The surveillance practices of the US have further undermined the already shaky trust between the US and the EU, the liberal daily Keskisuomalainen writes commenting on the recent revelations in Le Monde: "The case of France affects us more [than Brazil and Mexico], particularly when taken together with the earlier spying scandals in Germany and the European Union. ... The surveillance practices of the US are destroying the already frayed trust in transatlantic relations. The message from the US is that it doesn't even trust its European allies, and that in the name of security it spies on them just as it spies on its own citizens. During the summer surveillance scandal the Finnish Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade Aleksander Stubb tried to reassure the Finns by telling them that the EU and the US basically share the same values. The syping cases show that this is not necessarily the case." (22/10/2013)


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El País - Spain

Eta prisoners can be released

Spain must release Eta terrorist Inés del Río from prison after the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Monday that the so-called Parot Doctrine with which her release has so far been delayed is not lawful. Its application has so far prevented the release of several dozen terrorists and hardened criminals who have served out their sentences in full. Even if it doesn't like it Spain must conform with the ruling, the left-liberal daily El País advises: "Of course it's true that public opinion is very sensitive on this issue. But this is mostly due to the alarmism about the supposed repercussions of the ruling. It's not true that without the Parot Doctrine impunity will rule the day or that murders will go unpunished. Most of the prisoners who will benefit from the judgement have been behind bars for more than 20 years. ... If the state doesn't apply the ruling of the Court of Human Rights, this would certainly be grist to the mill of the extremists who have been claiming for years that Spain is not a true democracy." (22/10/2013)

Expresso - Portugal

Austerity budget promotes state reform debate

Portugal's austerity budget may have its shortcomings but at least it has triggered a discussion about indispensable state reforms, the left-liberal weekly Expresso comments: "The number of public servants has doubled every ten years, and their salaries were always adjusted above the inflation rate. This is also the reason why the cuts affect above all the public sector. This draft is not a good document, but it's not as bad as people say it is because it has finally started a discussion about the state. Many argue that cutting spending in the public service doesn't necessarily mean discussing the state. Of course! ... Talking about the state means recognising that the excessive number of public servants can't be financed through taxes. It must be permitted to ask whether the public service could get by with a smaller number of employees. ... One thing is clear: the size of the state apparatus needs to be adjusted otherwise one day it will disappear." (22/10/2013)

Le Quotidien - Luxembourg

Juncker's laborious formation of government

Despite having lost a significant share of the vote in the parliamentary elections on Sunday, Luxembourg's prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker wants his Christian Social People's Party (CSV) to take part in the government. The only possible coalition partner is the Liberal Party (DP), the liberal daily Le Quotidien writes, "but it doesn't seem to be able to reach an agreement on the path it wants to follow. Deputies like Eugène Bergier seem to reject a coalition with the CSV. For him, voters have expressed a desire for change that is incompatible with the CSV, whose reputation has suffered badly as a result of all the 'affairs'. The party's president Xavier Bettel, for his part, does not exclude this option. ... From a purely arithmetical point of view, it's up to the CSV and the DP to form the next government. Their programmes have certain similarities, notably on reforming the sliding pay scale [whereby salary adjustments follow changes in the cost of living]. But it's just here that the going gets rough for both parties. Because attacking this social 'sacred cow' risks open war with the unions." (21/10/2013)

Politiken - Denmark

Saudi Arabia shirking its UN responsibilities

In a surprise move on the weekend, Saudi Arabia turned down the seat on the UN Security Council that it has been vying to attain for years, citing the Council's 'double standards' on the Middle East as the reason for its decision. The country has shot an own goal, the left-liberal daily Politiken writes: "Saudi Arabia is refusing to shoulder responsibility in the UN and combines this with a frontal attack on the Security Council. ... That is sheer manipulation vis-à-vis the people of the Arab world, who could no doubt use a voice that protects the rights of citizens. ... When a government refuses to participate in the UN forum for conflict-resolution, development and human rights, it's never good news. But the Saudi royal dynasty is one of the most repressive regimes in the world, and when it rejects this mandate it says more about its own estrangement from the 21st century than it does about the United Nations." (22/10/2013)


  » open - Croatia

Vuk Perišić on the price of national emancipation in Eastern Europe

The installation of bilingual Croatian-Serbian signs in the eastern Croatian city of Vukovar and their subsequent destruction by war veterans has rekindled the debate on national identity in Croatia. On the liberal web portal, columnist Vuk Perišić sees a historic continuity in these most recent chauvinist incidents: "It has become evident that all the 'freedom fighting' on the part of 'oppressed populations' that was so often extolled in songs was just an opportunity to humiliate, discriminate against and ultimately exterminate others. The fight for 'national emancipation' is clearly nothing but the fight against this emancipation when it is being sought by another nationality. To that extent the demonstrators in Vukovar are entirely right to feel that something that they fought against is being forced down their throats. Because they are incapable of seeing their 'free state' as anything but the negation of the freedom of the 'foreigners'. They fall victim to cheap myths about nationhood and the fight for liberation that have been cultivated in Eastern Europe for almost two centuries. These however are nothing but the absence of anything resembling empathy - and ultimately a moral madness." (22/10/2013)


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Delo - Slovenia

Dijsselbloem's visit to Slovenia a bad omen

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the head of the Eurogroup, travelled to Ljubljana on Monday to discuss Slovenia's reform policy. Slovenia has repeatedly been named as the next candidate for the euro bailout programme ESM, although Prime Minister Alenka Bratušek has denied such speculation. The left-liberal daily Delo is sceptical after Dijsselbloem's visit: "The government continues to maintain that we can get out of this banking mess on our own. But much points to the fact that in addition to signalling support for Slovenia's efforts and aiding the exchange of information, the visit by the head of the Euro Group was also about running through certain scenarios. Decisive weeks lie ahead of us, but in a month's time at the latest we'll know whether Dijsselbloem's visit was really just routine or the start of a new, intensified and not always pleasant external 'bailout'." (22/10/2013)

Les Echos - France

Government spoils stock market boom for French

More than half of the capital of the 40 largest listed companies in France is foreign-owned, a report put out by the liberal business paper Les Echos shows. The interest in French stocks is growing internationally - but dropping domestically, the newspaper comments: "It looks as if these champions that everyone covets weren't attractive enough for French investors. Of course that's not the case. This lack of interest results from the habit of rejecting shares offhand in favour of 'no-risk' products. Above all this is the fruit of a policy that has ceaselessly discouraged French investors from buying shares with increasingly strict regulations and an ever more dissuasive fiscal policy. A very effective cocktail which the government wants to spice up even more by upping taxes on the Equity Savings Plan and life insurance products. And all of this means that French savers are permanently denied the benefits of the success of the CAC 40 companies." (22/10/2013)

Reflex - Czech Republic

Communists have no clue about the economy

In the run-up to the parliamentary elections this weekend the Czech communists of the KSČM party are propagating the idea of a return to a planned economy, arguing that the private sector has failed. This testifies to a lack of historical understanding, the liberal weekly Reflex comments: "The communists have never understood a thing about the economy. [KSČM boss Vojtěch] Filop should at least be able to point to one successfully managed nation in this world that is based on state ownership of the means of production. When in the past a Czech went to the West and saw its department stores he was dumbfounded. When a person from the West came to one of our stores they were left dumbfounded too - but for different reasons. Capitalism works, sometime well, sometimes not so well. But it works. A state-owned company is too sluggish to react flexibly. Its purpose is not production but existing for the sake of existing and providing work for political reasons. Production is just a necessary evil." (22/10/2013)


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Gość Niedzielny - Poland

No justice yet for Katyn victims

The European Court of Human Rights rejected for the most part the complaints filed by relatives of the victims of the Katyn massacre and acquitted Russia of having violated the rights of the victims and their relatives by failing to investigate the murders. With this ruling the court revised, for formal reasons, a judgement to the contrary passed last year. For the national religious portal Gość Niedzielny, the whole affair is not over yet: "This is not the final ruling that will be pronounced on this case. The current standstill arises from the fact that Russia has never undertaken a moral, legal or political assessment of communism. Consequently we have no option but to keep on patiently informing the international community. We must constantly demand the handing over of further documents from Russia and stress that this matter is important for Polish-Russian relations. And ensure that an awareness of this emerges on the Russian side. Nothing in history is irrevocable." (22/10/2013)

Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

Europe's Roma unjustly lumped together

The case of a presumed kidnapping by a Roma family in Greece shows once again how full of clichés the prevailing attitude is towards Europe's biggest transnational minority, the left-liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung criticises: "Ignorance of the cultural and historic backgrounds is too widespread, and the experiences that many have had with the Roma - also in Germany - are too contradictory. ... No doubt the mentality of the Roma has been formed to a large extent by the humiliation they have suffered since the Middle Ages, which is transmitted from generation to generation as a post-traumatic stress disorder. ... Certainly, however, as elsewhere Roma crime is not conditioned by their ethnic make-up but by their social circumstances. We mustn't forget that many of the ten to twelve million Roma in the EU don't live in ghettos, but unobtrusively in normal housing in villages and cities, and that many work at normal jobs. Moreover, not just the non-Roma but also many Roma fall victim to Roma criminals." (22/10/2013)

Dagens Nyheter - Sweden

Sweden right to stigmatise punters

The trial of a couple charged with having forced numerous women into prostitution is currently under way in Stockholm. But to stop prostitution you have to fight not only human trafficking but also the purchase of sexual services, the liberal daily Dagens Nyheter writes, praising Swedish practice: "Prosecutors stress that Sweden is relatively untroubled by prostitution. Johan Christiansson, a social worker who works with men who go to prostitutes, cites studies according to which 89 percent of Swedish men have never seriously toyed with the idea. The situation in countries like Germany, Denmark, France and the Netherlands is very different indeed. The good track record in Sweden is above all thanks to our prostitution law [which makes it illegal to purchase sexual services]. ... The less normal it is to buy sex, the more men who do so are stigmatised. If you want to eradicate prostitution altogether, it's better to concentrate on the demand than on the supply." (22/10/2013)

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