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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 19/02/2014



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Violence escalates in Kiev

Ukraine is experiencing the worst unrest since it achieved independence. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


Riot police in Kiev on Tuesday night stormed Independence Square, where anti-government protesters had set up camp. According to official sources more than 20 people died in the ensuing clashes, with hundreds more injured. Commentators describe Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych as a brutal dictator and call on the EU to impose immediate sanctions against the regime.

Newsweek Polska - Poland

Ukraine sinks into chaos

The escalation of violence in Ukraine makes it clear that Yanukovych is a dictator of the worst kind, the neutral news magazine Newsweek Polska writes, adding that the situation verges on civil war: "With each passing day he shows that his role models aren't [Belarusian president] Lukashenko or Putin, but the junta in Burma or the dictators of South America. He defends his power at all costs - with the help of a small number of police officers who are aggressive and ruthless. Now he can no longer claim he didn't know the military was shooting with live ammunition. ... Now that the government has sent at least a thousand soldiers ready to use live ammunition to Kiev, the clearing of Maidan can only be a question of hours. But what comes next? This will probably not be the end of the bloodshed. Because now the rioting will no doubt spread to other cities, and Ukraine will sink into chaos." (19/02/2014)

Corriere della Sera - Italy

Why the EU needs to act now

The EU can't remain impassive in the face of the bloody clashes in Kiev, the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera comments: "Despite increasingly violent protests and the no less brutal reaction of the regime, the West has confined itself to urging both sides to start a dialogue and conciliation. But now that the tanks have been rolled out on Kiev's Independence Square Europe no longer has any excuses. It can impose sanctions and limit the freedom of movement and capital of Ukrainian leaders but at the same time leave the door open and offer the prospect of immediate aid if a new government in Kiev starts moving towards the EU again. Otherwise Europe will be proving the US diplomat Victoria Nuland and her notorious 'Fuck the EU' right." (19/02/2014)

Diário de Notícias - Portugal

Future of the country at stake

New elections would probably at least reduce the tensions in Ukraine but they wouldn't solve the fundamental problem, the liberal-conservative daily Diário de Notícias comments: "The end of the crisis is not in sight and both sides have shown little willingness to compromise. ... Elections would help to calm the tensions and clarify the balance of power in Europe's second-largest country. However a change of government in Kiev would hardly resolve the eternal dilemma Ukraine has faced since the end of the Soviet Union: should it move closer to the EU or remain in Russia's sphere of influence? This will continue to be the big issue. ... But whether pro-Western or pro-Russian, the Ukrainians will have to reach an agreement on the kind of society they want to construct. The future of the country is at stake." (19/02/2014)

El Mundo - Spain

In the end only Yanukovych can decide

Nato and the EU must exert pressure on Ukraine, but in the end it's up to President Yanukovych to stop the bloodshed, the conservative daily El Mundo comments: "It's particularly worrying that organised radical groups are using the protests to stir up conflict within society. ... With this precedent it's hard to believe that the dialogue between the Ukrainian president and the leader of the opposition will achieve anything. ... Nato has voiced its concern about the spiral of violence and the EU has pointed out that peace is impossible without progress on the constitutional reform and democratic presidential elections. Pressure from the international community can help. But in the end it's Yanukovych who must prevent Ukraine from plunging into the abyss." (19/02/2014)


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Financial Times - United Kingdom

Merkel goes too far on data protection

In her weekly video message on Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a European Internet that is inaccessible for US intelligence agencies. This plan and Germany's criticism of the US go too far, the conservative daily Financial Times writes: "Ms Merkel's government should think through what it wants to achieve. The Snowden revelations have raised a raft of issues relating to technology and privacy, posing dilemmas on both sides of the Atlantic. Berlin has spent too long casting Germany as the victim in this matter and the US as the villain. As she prepares to visit the US in the next few weeks, it is time she adopted a more reasoned tone, one better suited to the complexity of the debate." (17/02/2014)

Avgi - Greece

European elections: a referendum on austerity

The current bailout programme for Greece expires in June. However the euro countries want to postpone the discussion on further financial assistance until after the European elections in May, Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem announced after a meeting of Europe's finance ministers on Monday. Voters must use the European elections to voice their disapproval of austerity, the left-leaning daily Avgi writes: "With this statement the head of the Euro Group has taken the wind out of the sails of the government, which has been using the threat of early elections as a means of blackmail. Now the creditors are pushing the government to take care of any unfinished business and do exactly what they want. ... And day in day out, the Samaras government is accepting all their demands. ... In this climate in which our national interests are being plundered, the European and regional elections must become a sort of referendum to put an end to austerity policies, memoranda and the government's destruction of our society." (18/02/2014)

Der Standard - Austria

Now everyone knows about North Korea's crimes

UN experts have accused North Korea of committing crimes against its own people that resemble the Nazi atrocities. However they advise against sanctions, out of concern for the people of North Korea. Their report nonetheless provides a basis for concerted action, the left-liberal daily Der Standard contends: "Despite the lack of consequences for Pyongyang, the UN report remains invaluable. It is indeed - shake your heads now - the first official assessment of the countless crimes in North Korea. And the UN has overcome its customary diplomatic reticence and clearly voiced its criticism. After gathering evidence for almost a year, it makes concrete accusations and, more importantly, names concrete suspects, the most prominent of whom is Kim Jong-un. ... The UN experts draw a drastic comparison between the human rights violations in North Korea and the Nazis. With this report in our hands, commission inquiry chairman Michael Kirby points out, no one can claim: 'We didn't know.' Now everyone knows." (18/02/2014)

Magyar Nemzet - Hungary

Hungary should weigh up EU exit

The Dutch right-wing populist politician Geert Wilders presented a study in early February which concludes that the Netherlands would benefit from exiting the EU. In view of the repeated tensions between Viktor Orbán's government in Hungary and Brussels, the conservative daily Magyar Nemzet toys with the idea of Hungary leaving the EU: "It's true that we receive more money from the EU than we pay into it. But we should remember that we pay a high price for EU membership: not only was the Hungarian economy deprived of key export markets but entire industrial sectors were destroyed. Then there's the political discrimination against the country under Orbán's leadership, which borders on the discrimination in the South African apartheid system. In such a context a referendum on Hungary exiting the EU would be highly understandable. And if such a referendum were to be successful it could have a domino effect across the EU." (15/02/2014)


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Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

Israel shouldn't be surprised about boycott

According to media reports, Deutsche Bank excluded the major Israeli bank Hapaolim from an investment fund because of its involvement in financing settlements in the Palestinian territories. The reports have caused a stir in Israel just a few days before Chancellor Angela Merkel visits the country. Prime Minister Netanyahu and his ministers must understand that even their closest partners are gradually running out of patience, the left-liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: "They arrogantly disregard all protest against new settlements, they play for time in the peace process while changing the situation on the ground with ongoing land appropriation. ... Even their closest friends and allies must sooner or later ask how they can enforce their position - or at least make it heard. The idea is not to punish the Jewish state - and certainly not because it's Jewish. But despite the weight of history, after having deplored the violations of international law for years, Israel's partners are now entirely justified in refusing to sit back and accept them any longer." (19/02/2014)

Libération - France

Hollande must position himself on euro debate

The French newspaper Le Monde published a "manifesto for a political union of the euro" on Sunday. The authors, a group of economists, journalists and political scientists, want to encourage a debate on the future of Europe. France's government should be quick to take up the challenge, the left-liberal daily Libération urges: "François Hollande shares these ideas in part, however he is careful not to champion them to French audiences. Because in fact he's in no hurry to start reforming Europe's treaties lest he divide his own ailing majority. We shall see how much longer he can remain inactive, especially if the [extreme right] Front National comes out of the European elections victorious, and the pressure from Germany to change the treaties grows. But by refusing to join a debate you risk having an agenda forced on you. Like the markets did between 2010 and 2013 - and we now know at what cost." (17/02/2014)


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Večernji list - Croatia

British witch hunt against Romanians opens

At the start of the year the mayor of London Boris Johnson compared Romanian immigrants with Transylvanian vampires against whom the country was powerless. Johnson knew exactly what he was doing with these words, the conservative daily Večernji List comments: "This was no careless joke, but carefully thought out. Vampires are a symbol of evil that is deeply rooted in the European conscience. ... The witch hunt has started, and in this archetypical battle against evil, all means are justified. The British government is doing nothing to stop this campaign. Things have gone so far that patients in British hospitals unscrupulously abuse doctors who came from Romania in the hope of being accepted in the UK. How do you think a dentist feels who arrived from Bucharest three years ago and is now confronted with patients who tell him he should be repairing toilets instead of teeth?" (19/02/2014)

Star - Turkey

Intolerable discrimination against religious Turks

During the Gezi protests in the summer of 2013, an alleged attack by demonstrators on a woman wearing a headscarf and her baby caused an outcry in Turkey. Prime Minister Erdoğan also repeatedly denounced the incident at the time. Then last week the television station Kanal D broadcast video footage from a surveillance camera which apparently shows that the woman was not attacked at all. The pro-government daily Star doesn't find the video very convincing: "The images published were certainly not taken at the time of the attack. The woman has now - nine months later - repeated her statement about the attack word for word. Nevertheless the Gezi-Gülen-Ergenekon alliance has heralded the images in the media with great satisfaction. Once again the immaculate honour of a young woman and her baby has been attacked. And this attack is just one example among many. ... In Turkey an intolerable discrimination against visible signs of religious belief that borders on fascism is manifest in all areas of society." (19/02/2014)

Vesti - Latvia

Increasingly hard times for Russian minority

Two years ago, in February 2012, Latvian voters rejected in a referendum plans to make Russian a second official language. The Russian-language daily Vesti believes the situation of the Russian minority has deteriorated since then: "The first reaction of the parliamentarians was to raise the legal hurdles for holding referendums. Today it's virtually impossible to gather the required number of signatures for a referendum. ... And now according to the coalition agreement the new government wants only Latvian to be spoken at all government authorities, schools and kindergartens. And this is presented to us as democracy! The 40 percent of the population that is non-Latvian will no longer have any choice. Even in Soviet times everyone could get an education in their mother tongue. But in Latvia the government wants to deprive the minorities of this option." (18/02/2014)

Dagens Nyheter - Sweden

Sweden's pupils simply too lazy

The OECD presented a partial Pisa report in Sweden which focuses on the expectations of teachers and the pupils' willingness to learn and participate. It's no wonder Sweden performed so poorly in the last international Pisa study, the liberal daily Dagens Nyheter complains: "In high-performing countries the pupils attach great importance to their own efforts. In Sweden, by contrast, they point to the textbooks, the teachers and the importance of talent. ... What really counts is the teachers' expectations of their pupils. Those who have teachers who expect a lot of everyone have more confidence in their own abilities, learn more easily and achieve better results. ... It's an illusion to think that lack of knowledge can be replaced with Internet searches. And it's dangerous self-deception to believe that Sweden is doing fine thanks to its creative social climate. Creativity doesn't come from nothing. It requires knowledge - and hard work." (19/02/2014)


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Dilema Veche - Romania

Putin gambled high with Sochi

Just under a third of the medals at Sochi are still up for grabs, but with an estimated price tag of 50 million dollars it's clear that these Olympics are the most expensive to date. According to an analysis in the weekly paper Dilema Veche, the costs were driven upwards by corruption and miscalculations: "Can't people just stop stealing? No, this logic doesn't work in Putin's system; here corruption is no exception. The system is so strongly based on corruption that it wouldn't know how to work without it. ... Another reason why the Games were so expensive is that the cost calculations were wrong: the facilities are so pharaonic that Sochi would have to become the world's top tourist destination for them to be profitable. But that's hardly likely. Now part of the football World Cup [2018] and a Formula 1 race are to take place there. Putin certainly took a big gamble in Sochi." (19/02/2014)

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