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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 28/01/2014

 

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First step towards compromise in Kiev

The possibility of snap elections or Yanukovych resigning was not discussed during the meeting between opposition and government. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

The opposition and government in Ukraine agreed on a compromise on Monday which among other things foresees the repeal of anti-protest laws and the clearing of camps set up by protesters. Prime Minister Mykola Azarov also tended his resignation on Tuesday. Some commentators see the possibility of the tense situation easing. Others are sceptical and call on the EU to mediate, particularly since they don't expect Russia to adopt this role.

Deutschlandfunk - Germany

A good time for a peaceful solution

Following repeated appeals from opposition leader Vitali Klitschko, among others, radical protesters ended their occupation of the Justice Ministry in Kiev on Monday. This raises hopes of a de-escalation of the tensions in the country, the public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk comments: "This is a good prerequisite for the planned negotiations between opposition politicians and President Viktor Yanukovych and tomorrow's special parliamentary session. If the MPs, including those from Yanukovych's Party of the Regions, close ranks, an important step towards a peaceful solution can be made. It could consist in the Supreme Council repealing the anti-democratic laws passed over a week ago. ... At least the opposition politicians finally seem to be working as a team. ... And just in time, because this is a favourable moment for Yanukovych's opponents. The head of state is under pressure not just from the people on the streets but also from the oligarchs, most of whom have supported him so far but are now insisting on a peaceful solution." (28/01/2014)

Ilkka - Finland

Time for Nobel Prize winner EU to act

The EU is needed as a mediator in Kiev, the liberal daily Ilkka writes: "Europe's second largest city in terms of surface area and seventh largest in terms of population is an important partner for its western and eastern neighbours. If Ukraine is unable to solve its problems and end the unrest on its own, it's in the interests of both the EU and Russia for things to calm down quickly. A number of MEPs, as well as EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, have already hurried to Ukraine. The EU now has the chance to show that it deserved the Nobel Peace Prize and can convince the Ukrainians to take down their barricades. An end to the spiral of violence and intimidation would be a first step towards democracy." (28/01/2014)

Večernji list - Croatia

Everything going according to Putin's plan

The unrest in Ukraine is not the result of a spontaneous development but was planned by Russia's President Vladimir Putin long in advance, the conservative daily Večernji List surmises: "This entire situation has been staged down to the last detail by Moscow in a bid to destabilise Ukraine. That way Russia can present itself as a stabilising factor and bring the country into its sphere of influence. Into the Eurasian Union, that is, which - apart from the Baltic States - corresponds to the borders of the former USSR. ... In forcing Yanukovych to abandon the agreements with the EU, Putin knew perfectly well that this would prompt the pro-Europeans to revolt. But he's experienced in such matters, and no doubt also advised Yanukovych to have violent agitators infiltrate the peaceful pro-European demonstrations." (28/01/2014)

Contributors - Romania

Russia will do utmost to stay out of struggle

No matter how the situation in Ukraine develops, Russia will stay out of the row for now, political analyst Valentin Naumescu writes on the blog portal Contributors: "Russia is in a quandary. On the one hand the dramatic events in Ukraine are extremely worrying in view of the efforts to keep the ex-[Soviet] republic within Moscow's sphere of influence. On the other Russia wants a political climate that doesn't disrupt the Olympic Games in Sochi - the grand project in which Moscow has invested so much and which it hopes will boost the country's international reputation. ... In the next four weeks Vladimir Putin will probably take as moderate a line as possible on a toppling of the regime in Kiev to avoid a boycott by Western heads of state and government - and indeed any negative reaction from the international community. Putin made such great headway on the international level in 2013. ... But now he's confronted with the possibility of losing control over Ukraine after all." (28/01/2014)

POLITICS

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Avvenire - Italy

Tunisia's lesson for the Arab world

Three years after the revolution, Tunisia's caretaker parliament approved a new constitution on Sunday, freeing the way for the elections planned for this year. Tunisia can serve as a model for the Arab world, the Catholic daily Avvenire writes: "A truly remarkable result that not only gives hope that a more strongly rooted democracy than is normally the case in the Middle East can develop. More important is the concrete possibility of the hopes instilled by the Arab Spring culminating in something other than the usual sad choice between authoritarian military regimes and dogmatic, intolerant Islamist governments. ... The rest of the Arab world can learn a lesson regarding procedure: dogmatically boxing through one's own agenda and branding the opponents as illegitimate enemies never bears fruit - in contrast to the patient, laborious development of consensus on a compromise." (28/01/2014)

The Independent - United Kingdom

Talks offer ray of hope for Syria

The Syria peace conference in Switzerland has so far failed to produce any conciliation between the delegation of President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition. But the fact that the two sides are still talking is a success in itself, the left-liberal daily The Independent writes: "Geneva II is meant to bring the bloodshed to an end. It has a long way to go before that and watching the self-serving posturing of some of the members of both the delegations in Montreux and Geneva did not fill one with confidence. But the very fact that it is taking place and, as yet, neither side has walked out, is in itself a triumph of sorts. There will be huge problems ahead, especially over what happens to Bashar al-Assad, but negotiations are the only way out of the madness." (27/01/2014)

NRC Handelsblad - Netherlands

The people of Egypt have achieved nothing

Egypt's caretaker president Adli Mansur has announced new parliamentary and presidential elections. Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi apparently wants to run for the office of president. Three years after the revolution the people have not achieved much, the liberal daily NRC Handelsblad observes: "Back then the army was in control of the country, and it is now. ... The constitution that has been adopted by a large majority underpins above all the power of the army, which has huge economic interests. ... If Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is soon elected president, the power of the army will be endowed with democratic legitimacy. The question is how the new president and parliament will deal with this situation. And whether Tahrir Square in Cairo will be flooded with insurgents in a couple of years, or even much sooner." (27/01/2014)

Taraf - Turkey

Nuclear plant tops Hollande's agenda in Turkey

French President François Hollande arrived in Turkey for a two-day visit on Monday. During this first state visit by a French president to Turkey in 22 years the economy - and in particular French plans to build a nuclear power plant in the country - is at the top of the agenda, the liberal daily Taraf comments: "Hollande is accompanied by an entire armada of businessmen and women. The subjects French presidents usually discuss on their foreign visits - such as democracy and human rights or in this case the genocide of the Armenians - are being completely left out. Remaining are the chapters of the EU integration process blocked by Hollande's predecessors. ... The first indication that the economy is the main theme was the visit by Minister of Industry Arnaud Montebourg last October. ... A nuclear power plant instead of the genocide of the Armenians. That's how crazy we've become." (28/01/2014)

Magyar Nemzet - Hungary

Referendums on energy issues a waste of time

In the row over the expansion of the nuclear power plant in Paks, opposition leader Attila Mesterházy promised on the weekend to hold a referendum if he becomes prime minister. According to the conservative daily Magyar Nemzet his promise lacks substance: "On what basis does [the left-wing opposition] intend to reach a decision on Paks? On the basis of expert knowledge? If so, why the devil does it want to ask the people? Is it the task of the populace to decide on specialised issues that even experts can't agree on? ... And how are we supposed to heat our homes, produce electricity, travel on public transport, live, while these debates are taking place? ... Why wasn't there a referendum when the parliament [under a left-liberal government] decided in 2009 by a large majority to expand the nuclear plant in Paks?" (28/01/2014)

ECONOMY

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Le Figaro - France

Time for true job market reforms in France

The number of jobless in France rose to 3.3 million in December, it was announced on Monday. This contradicts François Hollande's electoral promises to reverse the job market trend by the end of 2013. The conservative daily Le Figaro calls for thoroughgoing labour market reforms: "First of all labour costs must be drastically reduced, and a plan must be worked out for financing this. We're still a far cry from that. Secondly, our social legislation must be thoroughly revamped, since its complexity and rigidity are now the key hindrance to the creation of new jobs. ... Finally, the regulations for unemployed benefits must be tightened. Because as lax and as generous as they are now, they give people no incentive to go out and find a job. Of course all of this is more difficult than creating state-subsidised jobs. But it will also be far more efficient in our effort to win the battle against unemployment." (27/01/2014)

Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

Tax for wealthy in crisis states long overdue

In its monthly report published on Monday, Germany's Bundesbank spoke out in favour of wealthy citizens being obliged to pay a capital levy if the state they live in is facing bankruptcy. The left-liberal Süddeutsche Zeitung asks why this proposal didn't come earlier: "The proposal makes sense not only from the point of view of fairness, but also for economic reasons. ... A state is not an abstract entity, but the sum of its citizens. Therefore its citizens must also take responsibility when the state runs into difficulties; in particular its wealthy citizens. But as always when it comes to money, the idea will be difficult to put into practice. The question of how to prevent capital flight and a drop in real estate prices would have to be clarified. But above all one wonders why it has taken so long for the idea of a capital levy to reach the government and central bank headquarters. The Greek ship owners, who still don't pay any taxes, are laughing up their sleeves on their yachts, to name just one example." (28/01/2014)

Trud - Bulgaria

Not even waiters want to work in Bulgaria

Now that the EU job market has been opened for Bulgarians and Romanians, hotel and restaurant operators in Bulgaria fear they will face staff shortages in the coming tourist season. Bulgaria is facing a serious problem, the daily Trud warns: "For years we've been talking about the mass emigration of doctors. Now we must fear not only personnel shortages in healthcare but also have to worry about who's going to serve tables in the holiday resorts. And the way things look, the problem is set to spread to other sectors. ... The question now is: how can the state and the economy offer Bulgarians prospects here at home and make them want to stay? For the time being, there's no answer. Our politicians should be hearing alarm bells." (27/01/2014)

SOCIETY

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Proto Thema - Greece

Life without troika will be hard for Greeks

Hannes Swoboda, President of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, said last week that the troika should leave Greece and let the country assume responsibility for its budget policy. The liberal weekly newspaper Proto Thema wonders how the Greeks would cope: "For five years they've made themselves comfortable and grown used to the 'evil' politicians who've supposedly destroyed the country. Now, however, the moment has come to look the bitter truth in the face. It wasn't aliens who elected the governments after 1974, but the Greeks themselves. And as with every decision taken by adults, they themselves are responsible. Or don't they feel like adults? If that's the case they still have the option of asking the troika to stay." (28/01/2014)

Mladá fronta dnes - Czech Republic

Holocaust deserves more attention

Memories of the Holocaust must also be kept alive among the younger generation, lawyer Jiří Němec writes in the liberal daily Mladá fronta Dnes on International Holocaust Remembrance Day: "Racism and ethnic hatred are a threat to democracy at all times. The topic of the Holocaust should be dealt with far more thoroughly in our schools. And our children must be shown Theresienstadt and Auschwitz. How many of us have taken their children or grandchildren to Theresienstadt or Lidice in recent years? How many of us have combined a business or private trip to Munich with a visit to Dachau, the very first Nazi concentration camp? ... Just remembering the Holocaust once a year is not enough. When an old friend of mine - a teacher from Hessen - was in Prague for the first time with his pupils, the only excursion he organised outside the city was a visit to Theresienstadt." (28/01/2014)

Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland

Mysogynist theologist should listen to pope

During a special session of the Sejm last week, theology professor Dariusz Oko called gender theory an anti-Christian ideology that leads to the spread of atheism. The debate has been dividing the Poles for several weeks. Clergy members who put forward such arguments have issues with themselves, believes Katarzyna Kolenda-Zalesk, an expert on the Church for the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza, and advises Oko to heed the words of the pope: "The opposition of some clergymen against - as they say - gender ideology is nothing but an expression of male phobias. They're afraid that they will lose their position of dominance, and that gender equality threatens their power. ... I fail to understand why gender theory should lead to atheism. Let's not forget, the pope has dealt with the matter of equal opportunities. Just last Saturday during a discussion with Italian women he stressed that the role of woman in the Church must be redefined to reflect developments in society." (28/01/2014)

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