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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 02/12/2013



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Mass protests against Yanukovych

More than 100,000 Ukrainians demonstrated for tighter bonds with the EU. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


In protest against President Viktor Yanukovych and his pro-Russian course the opposition in Ukraine on Saturday announced that it would be holding a general strike. The move came after security forces took brutal action against pro-European demonstrators. The mass protests testify to the Ukrainians' desire for closer ties to Europe, commentators point out, and call on the EU to come up with a new strategy for Eastern Europe.

Respekt - Czech Republic

Ukrainians long for Europe

The mass demonstrations in Kiev are an expression of the Ukrainians' longing for Europe, the liberal weekly newspaper Respect believes: "According to the polls, a clear majority of Ukrainians see their future in Europe. The EU has stressed that its doors will remain open. People in Brussels are saying that the association agreement could also be signed in a few months' time. And if it isn't, then after 2015, when a new president is elected in Ukraine. To judge by the opinion polls, the current generation of young Ukrainians is even more European than their parents' generation. And this trend will only get stronger. The mass demonstrations in Kiev, in which above all young people have participated, are the biggest since the Orange Revolution in 2004. But they are different in one respect. Back then the protests were directed against manipulated elections. Today they express a longing and a goal - of becoming European." (02/12/2013)

El País - Spain

Brussels' calls fall on deaf ears in Kiev

After its defeat in Kiev, the EU must revise its strategy regarding its neighbours to the east, the left-liberal daily El País concludes: "Putin's victory on Ukraine, no matter how temporary it is claimed to be, forces Europe to review the strategy and content of its project for regional partnership, particularly since in certain questionable democracies those being governed have a far greater interest in it than those in government. Everything points to the latter being more attentive and vulnerable to the instructions and threats issued by the Kremlin than the seductive calls from Brussels. After achieving independence from Brussels, over the years a group of former Soviet republics was supposed to have acquired the sovereignty to choose their own allies and partners. Ukraine has become a striking example of this not being the case. And at the same time it exposes the EU's mechanisms and steadfastness regarding the Kremlin's aggressions as inadequate." (02/12/2013)

Etelä-Suomen-Sanomat - Finland

Russia fears the West

The power struggle over Ukraine shows how much Russia fears the West's influence, the liberal daily Etelä-Suomen Sanomat comments: "Ukraine has become the battleground in the power struggle between Russia and the EU. As far as Russia is concerned, Ukraine belongs to it both culturally and politically. ... Russia has taken many steps towards further isolation. It has passed laws to curb ostensible or real foreign influences that, according to the Russian leadership, run counter to Russia's culture and values. The Orthodox Church plays a central role in defining Russia's national values because it largely determines what is perceived as genuinely Russia. ... The Russian leadership, effectively Vladimir Putin, has sharpened its tone in the international arena. According to Putin, Western values represent a threat to Russia." (01/12/2013)

Verslo žinios - Lithuania

Vilnius summit shifts focus to the east

Even though the association agreement with Ukraine failed to materialise, the business daily paper Verslo žinios sees the EU summit in Ukraine as a success: "The meeting of the EU heads of state, the negotiations on the Eastern Partnership, the coming together of members of parliament, businessmen and women and other players, the demonstrations in Kiev and Chişinău and even the Femen activists' initiative (perhaps too quickly quashed by the police) have helped the world to acquire a better understanding of Vilnius and the participants of the Eastern Partnership. ... The EU's agenda has often been dominated by discussions about the situation in the Mediterranean region or relations with the states of the Middle East. The summit in Vilnius succeeded in putting the spotlight on the economic and political problems of the EU's neighbours to the east." (02/12/2013)

România Liberâ - Romania

Eastern Partnership not the way into the EU

The conclusion of association agreements with Georgia and the Republic of Moldova is little more than a sham, the conservative daily Romania Libera writes: "The final declaration of the summit in Vilnius opens no European perspectives for the states of the Eastern Partnership, and for that reason it's a clear victory for those who created the Partnership to keep these partners out of the Union. Even if an association has now been put in writing, the main priority as far as the EU is concerned under these circumstances is simply an enlarged economic area. ... The lifting of visa restrictions, which has nothing to do with the association agreement, remains the business of individual EU member states. And they're not concerned about it at all right now, what with the upcoming European elections and the rise of populist parties." (02/12/2013)


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The Economist - United Kingdom

Coalition plans bad for Germany

Members of Germany's Social Democratic Party have until mid December to vote by post on the coalition agreement with the CDU/CSU. But the agreement is more a step backwards than a step forwards for the country, the liberal business weekly The Economist writes: "No European country has carried out fewer reforms than Germany since the euro crisis began. The coalition's 185-page 'treaty' was a chance to launch a new reform agenda. Instead, its proposals are a mixture of the irrelevant - charging foreigners to use German motorways - and the harmful. For instance, it sets a new national minimum wage of €8.50 ($11.50). That is relatively high, especially in eastern Germany. … The coalition's pension policy seems even more retrogressive. These days, most advanced economies are expecting longer-living people to be longer-working, too." (30/11/2013)

Galamus - Hungary

Having own party makes Hungary's Roma stronger

For the first time, the Roma minority in Hungary will present its own party, the "Hungarian Gypsy Party" (Magyarországi Cigány Párt), in the European parliamentary elections next spring, party spokesman Aladár Horváth announced last week. The sociologist Ferenc Krémer welcomes the new party on the left-leaning opinion portal Galamus: "I don't believe that the governments we've had in Hungary until now have really done anything tangible to support the Roma, apart from making nice-sounding statements and introducing pseudo measures. Without their own political representation, the Roma can never become citizens with equal rights. Without a party they would no doubt continue to be granted minor concessions, but in the long term this would only worsen their situation and the social tensions in the country. ... And nor do I share the criticism of those who are against a Roma party on purely ethnic grounds. Hungary's right, for example, is also organised on the basis of ethnic principles." (02/12/2013)

Diena - Latvia

Tragedy leaves Latvia with weak government

Latvia needs a new government following the resignation of Latvian prime minister Valdis Dombrovskis after a supermarket collapsed. But that government won't be able to change much before the parliamentary elections in October 2014, the daily Diena comments: "Now the coalition partners must form a new government - one which won't be much different to the old one. The new ministers will only be in office for a few months before the next parliamentary elections are held. The new government will simply wait for the election. And the coalition partners will merely delegate second- or third-rate politicians, so as to protect their best candidates before the elections. In any case, Latvia will have a weak government for the next six to eight months, and the question is whether the public can go along with this." (30/11/2013)


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La Repubblica - Italy

Marc Lazar on the conservatives' loss of identity

The division of the conservative party in Italy is symptomatic of an identity crisis that reaches beyond the country's borders, political analyst Marc Lazar writes in the left-liberal daily La Repubblica: "This fragmentation of the conservatives, who are wavering between radicalism and moderation, can be seen in other countries too. ... For decades there has been well-founded talk of a crisis of the left in Europe, which lacks a project, an identity, a strategy and sometimes even a leadership. Now there are clear signs of crumbling bonds among the conservatives too. ... From both the populist movements and groups within the parties, a siren call can be heard, and the conservatives don't know whether to heed it or dismiss it. In this respect the European elections in May 2014 will be a major touchstone, both for the left and the conservatives. The latter must quickly make their decision and above all be frank with the voters regarding their orientation - not just in their own interest but also in the interest of our European democracies." (01/12/2013)

Eurozine - Austria

The potential of Europe's cultural journals

Euroscepticism in the run-up to the elections in May 2014 can be countered by means of cross-border intellectual exchange, the publishers of the online magazine Eurozine write on their website, pointing to the long tradition of Europe's cultural journals: "The upcoming European elections will take place in a troubled atmosphere. The current crisis is not only economic, it is a crisis of democracy, characterized by the rise of populism and a surge in 'anti-politics'. The situation calls for new political partnerships, but these seem unattainable because of the institutional deadlock of the EU and the growing discontent of European citizens pressed by never-ending austerity policies. … We hope that a real political debate will emerge during the upcoming European election campaign. … One of the ways to make this happen is to further the intellectual exchange taking place in Europe's journals. Cultural journals come closer to the ideal of a European public space than any other media. After all, since the eighteenth century, they have ensured a circulation of texts and ideas that is indispensable to any society that puts stock in democratic and cosmopolitan spirit." (01/12/2013)


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Simerini - Cyprus

Cypriots far deeper in crisis than Ireland

By the end of the year Ireland will be the first country to exit the troika's bailout programme. The Cypriot government has stated repeatedly that Ireland is its role model for overcoming the crisis, however the conservative daily Simerini finds the comparison inappropriate: "Cyprus's economic problems are bigger than Ireland's, and even if we exited the bailout programme, we would still be in no position to pay off our debts. It will be many years before we can stand on our own two feet, if at all that is. Our people will still have much to endure before the financial situation can be brought under control. No one wants the government to fall short of its goals, since that would lead to economic disaster. ... However the fact that the government celebrates each tiny success as a major victory while ignoring the existential plight of the simple people is a provocation and unacceptable." (01/12/2013)

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

WTO's influence waning

Ahead of the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) taking place in Bali at the start of December, the negotiators agreed last Thursday on easing trade and customs regulations to facilitate international trade. Nevertheless the WTO's importance is dwindling, the liberal-conservative Neue Zürcher Zeitung points out: "The WTO will be confined to two tasks at most in future: defining multilateral rules and settling trade policy disputes. As far as the first task is concerned, what will be decisive is whether the regional structures are compatible with those of multilateralism. ... The dialectics of the developments could lead to countries increasingly seeing the profusion of regional agreements as an obstacle because they lead to the fragmentation of trade policy structures. From this perspective, the upcoming mega-regionalism could serve as a preliminary stage for a new multilateralism in which the WTO takes on a more central role." (01/12/2013)


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Novi list - Croatia

Croatians want nothing to do with gay marriage

In a referendum held on Sunday in Croatia, a majority of almost 65 percent voted in favour of marriage being defined in the country's constitution as a union exclusively between a man and a woman. The left-liberal daily Novi List is disappointed at the result and the low voter turnout of just 36 percent: "This December 1, the majority of Croatians stayed at home curled up on their warm sofas and missed the opportunity to change the course of history and oppose all forms of discrimination and segregation. ... This referendum was one of the biggest parodies of democracy, and Croatia has shown the astonished world that it's still not a mature and reliable society. No matter how much we swear by our European identity, no matter how much we point our fingers at others who are supposedly unworthy of EU membership - in the few months since we became a member of the EU we have drawn attention to ourselves only through constant confrontation with all of Europe's core values." (02/12/2013)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung - Germany

Fight prostitution across borders

The grand coalition in Germany wants to do more to combat forced and poverty-related prostitution. Germany is indeed a popular destination for sex tourism and this should change, the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung writes: "French punters like to come to Germany. It's not far - and thanks to its prostitution laws and EU enlargement, it's a paradise for sex tourists. ... And that doesn't 'just' concern the big brothels of the kind that now exist in every big city. A growing number of women are also working the streets. For the most part they come from Eastern Europe. And let's face it, practically no one stands on the roadside because that's their idea of a good time. Now things will only get worse in Saarbrücken [where a big brothel is under construction] and elsewhere. Because France is on the verge of passing a new prostitution law: the National Assembly passed the main parts of the law on Saturday. In future punters are to be penalised. ... As long as they are not subjected to equally harsh measures here, Germany will remain a paradise for punters and pimps." (01/12/2013)

NRC next - Netherlands

Spoilt for choice on the word of the year

The Dutch association Onze Taal (Our Language) has designated the term "participatiesamenleving" (participation society) as the word of the year for 2013. But the decision is rather arbitrary, the liberal daily complains: "This year there were a total of five votes on the word of the year in the Netherlands, more than ever before. ... Such hit lists at the end of the year are wonderful, but if there are too many, things simply get chaotic. With all the prizewinning words, we'll soon be able to make a sentence of the year. That's when it's time to take action. ... First proposal: an objective vote on the word of the year. Not through a referendum, but by scientific means. With the help of statistics and data mining, the most frequently used new word of the year 2013 can be ascertained. Second proposal: the organisers of the current five votes should hold a preliminary ballot. The winner of this vote will then be allowed to select the word of the year." (02/12/2013)

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