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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 21/01/2014

 

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New violence in Ukraine

More than 200 people have been injured in the protests since the weekend. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

After the street fighting on the weekend, there were new clashes between government opponents and security forces on Monday. President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko both warned against an escalation of the situation. Commentators call for the stricter anti-protest laws to be repealed, and urge the West to impose sanctions.

Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland

Protests out of control

If the opposition continues to grow more and more radical and Yanukovych loses his room for manoeuvre, Ukraine will face a conflict of uncontrollable proportions, the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza fears: "More and more players are turning up who are doing everything they can to bring Yanukovych and his entourage down. Without negotiations the situation will get out of control. This will also happen if there are negotiations, but the results are not satisfying from these radicals' point of view. If this was the case the protests would be silent for a brief time, only to turn shortly after into a blind mob that will destroy everything and everyone. Yanukovych, by contrast, will only be capable of reaching a compromise if he fears he would otherwise lose everything. And fear would be the worst possible advisor in these times of crisis. ... The entire opposition has less and less leeway, and must increasingly bear in mind the demands of the radicals in its ranks." (21/01/2014)

Sme - Slovakia

Kiev pulling down bridges to the West

With the tougher anti-protest legislation and other controversial laws President Yanukovych has proven that his Ukraine is not a democratic state governed by the rule of law, the liberal daily Sme concludes: "Why is Yanukovych risking cutting off the bridges to Europe and the US? Why has he stopped manoeuvring between Russia and the West? It's highly likely that he would never have needed to apply the repressive laws against the opposition. Things were beginning to turn in his favour. The opposition, composed of liberals to nationalist right-wingers, was unable to agree on a common course. It couldn't force the president to hold new elections - which it may well not have won, given that Ukraine is not just made up of the demonstrators in Kiev. Yanukovych should have waited or in the worst case acted as if he were willing to negotiate. Perhaps he believes Ukraine is so important for the West that no matter what it does, it will be forgiven." (21/01/2014)

Financial Times - United Kingdom

Sanctions now needed

If Viktor Yanukovych doesn't revoke the tightened anti-protest laws passed on Friday the West should impose sanctions against the Ukrainian regime, the conservative daily the Financial Times proposes: "Mr Yanukovich should repeal the anti-protest laws. The highly dubious way in which they were passed in parliament provides him with a pretext. The outside world needs to send a strong message that by signing the new laws Mr Yanukovich has crossed a line, pushing Ukraine towards an authoritarian system closer to that of Russia, or even to its other dictatorial Slavic neighbour, Belarus. One potentially effective measure could be targeted sanctions against senior Ukrainian officials, involving visa bans and asset freezes." (20/01/2014)

POLITICS

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Die Presse - Austria

Conflict must be resolved away from Syria

Just before the Syria peace conference begins on Wednesday, UN Secretary General Ban-Ki-moon has withdrawn the invitation to Iran to join in the talks. Whichever way you look at it, the Syria conflict is a proxy war between the Gulf states and Iran and must be resolved elsewhere, the liberal-conservative daily Die Presse concludes: "Tehran and the Gulf monarchies must settle their dispute away from the Syria talks, in their own (secret) negotiations. But there seems to be little will to do so. Iran is not ready to lower its ambitions in the region. And the Arab Gulf states are angry and worried that the US and the Europeans are approaching Tehran once more on the nuclear issue. This is why they're more determined than ever to 'contain' Iran. The US seems not to be strong enough right now to force both sides to an agreement. The victims of this state of affairs are the people of Syria. They have no reason to hope that the madness of the war will end soon." (21/01/2014)

Le Soir - Belgium

Europe has learned from Rwanda

The EU foreign ministers decided on Monday to join the French military mission in the Central African Republic. The liberal daily Le Soir commends Europe for learning from the genocide in Rwanda twenty years ago: "This military support, added to around 500 million dollars in funding, certainly does not exonerate France, a former colonial power, from its self-interested policies of the past or its prolonged blindness to the atrocities committed by the Séléka [alliance of Muslim militias in the Central African Republic]. Nevertheless, twenty years after the Rwanda genocide, this commitment represents a sense of growing awareness, perhaps even of growing solidarity. … The support from Europe should make it possible to broaden the scope of action, and help to dispel doubts [about France's course of action]." (21/01/2014)

Večer - Slovenia

Supposedly a historic day for Serbia

Serbia begins the talks for its accession to the EU today, Tuesday, in Brussels. The government is quite rightly celebrating this day as a historical success but the people couldn't care less, the conservative daily Večer comments: "If the Serbian government hadn't resolved the Kosovo question, its domestic reforms, no matter how successful, wouldn't have helped - it would never have been able to experience this historic January 21. This day is historic above all for the government; less so for the seven million Serbs who have already had to digest enough historical data in the last decade and have heard all the promises that they would join the EU in 2004, 2007 or 2014. In the cabinet they're no doubt popping open a few bottles of champagne. The Serbs, however, already celebrated the new year in front of the parliamentary building. That was enough for the coming months." (21/01/2014)

Hürriyet Daily News - Turkey

Erdoğan profits from power struggle with EU

For the first time in five years, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will arrive for talks in Brussels today. Here he will probably face critical questions on the treatment of the judiciary in the recent corruption scandal. The liberal English-language paper Hürriyet Daily News doesn't think it likely that Erdoğan will allow himself be driven into a corner: "Some go even further in speculating that this is exactly the kind of opportunity that he will seize to slam the door on the EU and increase his popularity. ... If he were to slam the door on Europe, it is not difficult to speculate that he will receive a hero's welcome in Turkey, where support for the EU has been low and a majority believes that Turkey should act solo on global and regional issues. Some believe this would gain him additional votes in the March elections." (21/01/2014)

Adevârul - Romania

Russia using Gagauzia as a pawn

In the Republic of Moldova the parliament of the autonomous region of Gagauzia will meet with government representatives from Chişinău for discussions starting today, Tuesday. On the agenda is a referendum with which Gagauzia will decide whether to join the Russian Customs Union, planned for February 2. The Romanian sociologist Dan Nicu draws a parallel with Ukraine in the blog of the liberal-conservative daily Adevărul: "This year Russia will use Gagauzia to block Chişinău's efforts to sign an association agreement with the EU. What the eastern industrial region - which forms an organic part of the Russian market - is to Ukraine, the south is to the Republic of Moldova. Transnistria has lost its deterrent potential because it's already a secessionist region with no recognised status. The autonomous region of Gagauzia, by contrast, could turn definitively against Chişinău. Then the Russians would have a second pawn for exerting pressure - one that would be far more effective." (21/01/2014)

REFLECTIONS

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Jutarnji list - Croatia

Miljenko Jergović on the Germans' fear of their own language

German linguists voted the term "social tourism" as non-word of 2013 last week. Author Miljenko Jergović describes in the liberal daily Jutarji List how this is typical for Germany: "The annual competition for non-word of the year reveals the intellectual caution of the Germans, their wary stance vis-à-vis the cynicism of linguistic nuances and eternal fascism. ... Are the Germans showing their love for their language when they select the term they find most repulsive each year? Is this perhaps an expression of German self-hate or auto-chauvinism? Self-castigation as an expression of the national identity? Do the Croats show their love for their language when they poke around in it as if they were carrying out a house search, weeding out loan words, sending Serbian expressions to the gas chamber and coining new terms to replace them: prettier and more Croatian? ... The Germans are no better than the Croats, but they feel the need to ceremonially purge themselves of hatred and protect their language from their own wickedness. I believe that the Germans love their language just as much, and therefore they don't protect it from others, but from itself." (21/01/2014)

ECONOMY

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Der Tagesspiegel - Germany

Greedy employers are real culprits

Around 27,000 Romanians and Bulgarians claimed welfare payments in Germany last June, while around 36 percent of them worked at the same time, the liberal daily Der Tagesspiegel reports. It is not the immigrants who are exploiting the system but their employers, who pay them such low wages that they're forced to go on the dole too, the paper writes: "One example: a Romanian, Bulgarian or Portuguese woman cleans the chic double rooms of a luxury hotel all day or all night long. The big hotel chains - as well as fine private hotels - generally pay nothing but a pittance. ... Any existing minimum wage is avoided, as a TV report by Günter Wallraff last year clearly demonstrated. The cleaning staff - and the authorities - are given fake pay slips. ... In many places honest taxpayers have to foot the bill for dishonest salaries. Romanian cleaning staff cannot wipe away this disgrace. To do that, the German politicians must open their eyes and take action." (21/01/2014)

Standart - Bulgaria

Bulgarian constitution protects illegal work

The draft for the reform of the Bulgarian penal code foresees hefty penalties including imprisonment for evading payment of social contributions. However the right to work - even if it's illegally - is enshrined in the constitution, the daily newspaper Standard argues: "According to the constitution the right to work takes precedent over the obligation to pay social insurance contributions. In the year 2000 the constitutional court put a stop to the criminalisation of the non-payment of social contributions with the argument that 'earning a wage constitutes a concrete and immediate vital necessity for the employee and his family (food, accommodation, medicines), while social insurance provides for an uncertain need in the future (pension, illness and so on)'. According to the constitution the right to work and pay is inviolable. Anything else - whether an employment contract exists or social contributions are paid - is secondary. So it would be unacceptable for people to be sent to prison for working." (21/01/2014)

Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

EU turning a blind eye to Peugeot

China's second-largest car manufacturer Dongfeng and the French state plan to buy stakes in PSA Peugeot Citroën. The governing board of the French carmaker gave the green light for the deal on Monday. Paris is being given preferential treatment when it comes to state aid, the liberal business daily Il Sole 24 Ore complains: "Does the ban on state aid apply equally to all? This question urgently needs to be answered in view of Europe's silence on the Peugeot-Élysée-China operation, through which the French state will effectively assume control of the crisis-stricken carmaker. This silence is truly inexplicable, bearing in mind how badly Italy has been treated whenever it even considered bailing out private or inadequately privatised companies with public money. ... Our newspaper has always fought for fair solutions on the market, instead of rash and dangerous interventions in the system. But in France's case you get the impression that our partners are moving in precisely the opposite direction." (21/01/2014)

SOCIETY

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The Irish Times - Ireland

Ireland needs homophobia watchdog

The Irish are to vote on the introduction of gay marriage in the coming year. Homophobia must not be given a voice in the debate, columnist Una Mullally writes in the left-liberal daily The Irish Times: "In the lead-up to the referendum on marriage equality next year, there is a need for an independent homophobia watchdog to monitor the inevitable destructive rhetoric that will colour one side of the debate, without fear of legal repercussions. Depictions of LGBT people in the media that in any way infer that their relationships or parenting skills are inferior to those of heterosexuals should be condemned. Unlike in some countries, Irish law does not permit the execution of gay people, but that doesn't mean homophobia doesn't exist." (20/01/2014)

Ouest France - France

French women at a disadvantage in work life

The French National Assembly has been debating a draft law on the equality of men and women in the world of employment since Monday. The liberal regional paper Ouest-France laments that it takes laws to ensure that women reach the upper echelons of power: "The difficulties faced by our female elites in reaching the highest positions are based in the sexist genes of the working world. Here the discrepancy between men and women, estimated at 27 percent in the private sector, is also the result of inequalities on the career ladder. ... We're still miles away from equality even though women make up 40 percent of the global workforce. We have a long road ahead of us, dear ladies, before France can equal Norway, the model for the rest of Europe. And the worst thing is that we have to resort to laws (half a dozen in France since 1970) to establish the principles that define the place that you deserve." (20/01/2014)

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