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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 24/01/2014

 

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Kiev negotiations still without result

Klitschko appealed to the protesters not to provoke further violence. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

The Ukrainian government and opposition failed to reach a breakthrough agreement during several hours of negotiations on Thursday. Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko asked the demonstrators in Kiev to be patient, while President Viktor Yanukovych announced a crisis meeting in parliament. Some commentators hold Moscow responsible for the escalating situation. Others call on the EU to work with Russia to find a solution.

15min - Lithuania

West must pressure Yanukovych

The West can only stop the government's brutal approach in Ukraine with targeted sanctions against Yanukovych, political scientist Laurynas Kasčiūnas writes on the portal 15min: "Such sanctions could allow the EU to save face. ... The goal of such measures should be to divide the country's political elite. Or to be more precise: to get the oligarchs - who until now have been independent political actors - to pressure Viktor Yanukovych to stop controlling the state, dissolve parliament and call snap elections. ... We shouldn't be talking just about black lists of people not allowed to travel to the West, but also - and more importantly - about freezing financial assets. The decisive thing is for these measures to be coordinated jointly by the US and the EU. Nevertheless, the Magnitsky list [with US sanctions imposed after the death of the lawyer and government critic Sergey Magnitsky in Moscow] shows how difficult that will be." (23/01/2014)

Gazeta Polska Codziennie - Poland

Apply sanctions against Moscow, not Kiev

The US imposed visa restrictions on Ukrainian officials on Wednesday in reaction to the violence in Kiev. More effective would be sanctions against Russia, the national-conservative tabloid Gazeta Polska Codziennie contends: "For the most part, the roots of the problem do not lie in Kiev. They include Moscow's aggressive policies that have stripped Ukraine of the ability to decide over its own future. Russia's influence is so strong because it occupied the country for three centuries. ... Nevertheless the West has at its disposal a whole spectrum of sanctions against Putin: from an Olympics boycott to an energy embargo. That would send the right message that Russia cannot go on treating its neighbours like slave colonies." (24/01/2014)

Frankfurter Rundschau - Germany

EU and Russia must work together

As the situation in Kiev increasingly resembles a civil war, the left-liberal Frankfurter Rundschau urges Russia and the EU to jointly seek a solution for Ukraine: "Not only does Russia have a greater stake in Ukraine, it also has more potential for wielding influence. And that's not just the 15 billion dollars that Putin has now promised. With its - failed - association agreement, there is one thing the EU seems to have overlooked: Russia's partnership with Ukraine is of decisive importance for its geopolitical position in Europe. Russia has legitimate interests in Ukraine that can't be ignored. So it's high time to bury the completely anachronistic conflict between Brussels and Moscow about whose zone of influence Ukraine lies in. The EU must come to an understanding with Russia. By working together, they can perhaps bring their influence to bear in Kiev." (24/01/2014)

Revista 22 - Romania

Ukraine a victim of its Soviet past

The pro-European demonstrators in Ukraine have their work cut out for them in view of the country's Soviet past, the weekly Revista 22 points out: "Kiev drifting towards dictatorship showcases how fragile the former Soviet Republics' path to democracy is - with the exception of the Baltic states. They have a strict regime of Russification behind them in which moral values were always scorned. In this desert, of which the Republic of Moldova is also part, the institutions are weak and the politicians just want power and wealth. They tackle reforms half-heartedly and only under pressure from the West. They trick their sponsors into thinking they're playing along and the latter must reconcile themselves with the Byzantine customs and hypocrisy of their 'dialogue partners'. ... The bribery and destructive actions of Moscow discourage reforms and democratisation in the former Soviet sphere and serve as justification for continuing the pseudo policy with the West." (24/01/2014)

POLITICS

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Milliyet - Turkey

Now it's about the people of Syria

The international Syria conference will move on Friday from Montreux to Geneva, where the real negotiations on the future of Syria are to begin. The top priority is to ensure humanitarian aid for the Syrian people, the conservative daily Milliyet urges: "The most important question is how the millions of hungry and thirsty Syrians lacking medical assistance can be helped. Humanitarian aid shipments aren't reaching those who need them in Syria, because the fighting is everywhere. Consequently the most urgent goal must be to secure a ceasefire. It seems as if this is also a top priority for UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. If the parties in Geneva can reach an agreement on this point in the coming days, it would constitute the peace conference's first and most important success." (24/01/2014)

De Volkskrant - Netherlands

Obama's fatal mistake in Syria

The fact that little can be expected of the Syria peace talks is also due to the US's restrained approach, the left-liberal daily De Volkskrant complains: "About a year ago Assad was on the defensive. That was reason enough for him to make repeated use of chemical weapons. Afterwards, he used his chemical weapons as bartering chips to prevent a US military strike. And now his troops can attack his opponents without fear of a Western intervention. The opposition that believed in Obama's 'red line' for chemical weapons is demoralised and divided. ... The inaction has only prolonged the war. Arming the rebels or giving them support from the air could have prompted Assad to take negotiations seriously. With more than a hundred thousand dead and millions driven out of the country, peace in Syria can only be found in its graves." (24/01/2014)

La Stampa - Italy

Rouhani's winning charm offensive in Davos

In the words of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday, the country wants to improve its relations with the global community. What is new about Rouhani is less what is said than the way he says it, the liberal daily La Stampa concludes: "The philologists of international politics will seek in vain for words that constitute a radical break with the most recent tradition of his country and provoke the ire of its spiritual leader Ali Khameini. ... Rouhani is sticking to the protocol agreed with Tehran word for word. But he speaks with a charming, likeable good-humour, with a winning smile on his lips. ... After all the heated, populist hate tirades by his predecessor Ahmadinejad, the educated, relaxed, polite Rouhani reminds us of the essence of the thousand-year-old Persian civilisation, and the charisma that makes power fascinating rather than threatening." (24/01/2014)

Avgi - Greece

Europe ignores atrocities on its own borders

Three women and nine children died when a boat carrying Afghan and Syrian refugees capsized on Monday near the Greek island of Farmakonisi. Survivors say the accident happened as the Greek coastguard was towing the boat back towards Turkey. For the left-leaning daily Avgi, the blame lies with the Europeans: "Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, has said that he's shocked, and that this action points to mass deportation. He explained that the Greek government had committed to ending this illegal practice just a week before. Which means that the Greek government has admitted that it does this dirty work. Even if the commissioner says he's shocked - is there anyone who still thinks that Europe is not guilty? Europe has institutionalised these atrocities and long closed its eyes to the reality, hasn't it?" (23/01/2014)

ECONOMY

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Blog EUROPP - United Kingdom

Euro pays off despite the crisis

The countries of the Eurozone have more than doubled their trade with each other since the introduction of the euro, a study published by Tel Aviv University this month shows. This is confirmation for all of those who defend the single currency, economist Tal Sadeh writes in the London School of Economics' EUROPP blog: "Many agree that the reasons for establishing Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) have always been mainly political. However, the economic cost-benefit analysis remains important because it helps shape the political debate by either putting a price tag on the project or showing that it pays for itself. ... Overall the evidence suggests that micro-economically the euro works in spite of its macro-economic difficulties, and that in the long run the euro is especially helpful to periphery countries. To the extent that the euro remains a politically desirable project, this evidence strengthens the case for saving it." (23/01/2014)

El Mundo - Spain

Emigration helps Spain's jobless statistics

The rate of unemployment in Spain dropped in 2013, it was announced on Thursday. But the fact that there are 69,000 fewer people out of work than a year ago is not primarily a result of government policy, the conservative daily El Mundo points out: "What really contributed to the decrease in unemployment is the exodus of young people and immigrants which, together with an ageing population, has resulted in a drop in the number of people registered as seeking employment. Therefore the new statistics are not a good signal for the government, although it's true that in absolute terms the unemployment rate has gone down for the first time since the crisis began. This is no cause for celebration, because many people are still facing the threat of poverty, there's a high level of job fluctuation and a growing number of jobs for qualified personnel are being lost, replaced by part-time, poorly paid labour." (24/01/2014)

Politiken - Denmark

Danish state wrong to cede control over energy

The Danish government on Thursday defended its decision to sell 19 percent of the state-owned energy company Dong to US investment firm Goldman Sachs. The Danish parliament's financial commission is due to rule on the move next week. The left-liberal daily Politiken argues that a discussion is needed about whether any stake at all in the state company should be sold: "Control over critical infrastructure is a defining characteristic of the state. Giving up power over the distribution network for gas and other vital areas of the energy supply network entails a loss of sovereignty that no amount of money can make up for. ... If the project goes ahead as planned, we will have less and less say. This influence will pass into the hands of Dong's future owners - whoever they may be. But then it will be too late to regret the decision. The conclusion is clear: withdraw the proposal. Come to your senses before we lose the power to make our own decisions." (24/01/2014)

Diena - Latvia

Latvia fears for its smoked sausages

Companies that produce meat in Latvia are concerned because the deadline for implementing an EU directive that forbids traditional methods for smoking and curing meat expires in September, ending the transitional phase. According to media reports, one in three meat producers may have to give up their business. The daily Diena suspects that German interests are behind this regulation: "The European Union is not a club of friends. It's an institution that is used to satisfy the needs of individual entrepreneurs. The smiling faces that talk endlessly about common interests are just a façade. ... This time the new regulation probably caters to German interests. It's the result of the lobby work of representatives of the food industry. They probably want to sprinkle smoke aromas on products that are stuffed with e-numbers so that the meat looks and tastes like smoked meat." (23/01/2014)

Savon Sanomat - Finland

Finnish postal service costly and inefficient

The Finnish postal service announced extensive job cuts on Thursday, and plans to lay off 1,200 letter carriers. The state enterprise only has itself to blame for its present financial difficulties, the liberal daily Savon Sanomat comments: "The government hopes that people will react positively to the restructuring. But hardly anyone will be happy that the state-owned enterprise Itella wants to slash 1,200 jobs, a move that will only make its service worse than it already is. The cuts will barely be felt in the cities, but the inhabitants of more sparsely-inhabited regions are not in an enviable position. ... The company's management can justify the staff cuts by pointing to new technologies. But it only has itself to blame for the fact that fewer letters, newspapers and packages are being sent by mail. Parcel deliveries will soon be so expensive that it'll be cheaper to get in the car and deliver your packages yourself." (24/01/2014)

SOCIETY

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Le Monde - France

Abortion is never carried out on a whim

Under an amendment to France's abortion law, pregnant women will in future be able to obtain an abortion without having to prove that they are in "distress". The gynacologist and author Marie-Laure Brival writes in the left-liberal daily Le Monde that this does not mean women will now think nothing of having an abortion: "Will abortion become banal? Yes, if that means destigmatising it, making it accessible by offering appropriate services and not brandmarking this decision that is part of the social life of every women and every couple. No, if we consider what women who decide to have an abortion go through. They never do it without weighing up the consequences, out of convenience or on a whim, but because they feel they must, even if this means a painful renunciation." (24/01/2014)

Komment - Hungary

Orbán seeks to clear Hungary of Shoah guilt

With its plans for a monument to mark the 70th anniversary of Hungary's occupation by Nazi Germany, the right-wing conservative government is trying to exonerate the country from its crimes against the Hungarian Jews, historian Krisztián Ungváry criticises on the opinion portal Komment: "The government's take on this chapter of history can be summed up as follows: Hungary lost its sovereignty in March 1944. ... Those who can see through the political concept behind the government's historical perspective will inevitably conclude that the monument is a memento of national apologism. ... The fact is that after Hungary's occupation, the Hungarian authorities went into a frenzy of deportations. The commander of the Auschwitz concentration camp, Rudolf Höß, asked in vain for Hungary to slow down its transports, but Budapest ignored his request." (08/01/2014)

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