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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 31/07/2014



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Russia answers sanctions

The sanctions will lead to an "increase in prices on the European energy market", according to a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


Moscow threatened on Tuesday to increase energy prices in answer to the EU's economic sanctions, and imposed an import ban on Polish fruit and vegetables. Commentators call on the West to toughen its its stance against Russia and believe it will maintain the upper hand in the event of a trade war.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

West has more threats than it thinks

Economic sanctions alone won't help against Russian aggression, the liberal-conservative Neue Zürcher Zeitung comments, calling for a tougher approach in the form of a containment policy: "In the international debate about Russian aggression against Ukraine, the players as well as commentators are avoiding the term 'containment' like the devil holy water. There is absolutely no reason for this given that far from being an escalating response to a threatening scenario or an executed military action, containment is the contrary: a prudent cushioning of antagonistic actions that falls short of military intervention. Depending on the circumstances it may take the form of purely diplomatic talks, but also more forceful reactions such as the drawing of red lines, the shifting of troops, embargoes and even blockades. The international community must finally react firmly to Moscow's violations of international law." (31/07/2014)

Newsweek Polska - Poland

Fruit embargo is a boomerang

The West will retain the upper hand in the end despite Russian counter-sanctions, Newsweek Polska magazine predicts: "The new EU sanctions won't break Putin immediately. But he is finally really taking Europe seriously. The Russian president only understands tough language. He may have immediately introduced counter-measures, but Europe and the US will prove stronger in the end. Ultimately the Kremlin will pay the political and economic price for the war in Ukraine. Never before has Europe adopted such a clear position against Moscow. ... Russia, now burdened by the sanctions, is increasingly a political pariah. Even if Putin launches an all-out trade war, cuts off gas supplies and extends the fruit embargo to meat and other EU goods, ultimately it will be the Russians who suffer. Because Russia's agricultural sector is inefficient and can't meet the demands of its 140 million inhabitants." (31/07/2014)

Financial Times - United Kingdom

Merkel's negotiating tactic was called for

Angela Merkel was right to delay the enactment of tougher sanctions against Russia, the conservative daily The Financial Times comments, rejecting the criticism of the German chancellor's approach: "That view discounts Ms Merkel's service in decelerating the pace of western sanctions to leave room for escalation as and when needed; and to keep Mr Putin talking, rather than shooting, at the moment of greatest danger of a direct Russian invasion of Ukraine last May. This allowed Kiev time to mobilise the ragtag Ukrainian army and purge the most obvious Russian moles from its ranks. In Germany, the MH17 tragedy has done much to dispel the popular notion that the country should try to engineer a conciliation between America and Russia. The shifting mood has given Ms Merkel more room for manoeuvre. She has used it well - and cemented her own emergence as the geopolitical leader of Europe." (30/07/2014)

Die Zeit - Germany

EU finally adopts a joint approach

The sanctions could do much to further the European unification process, the liberal weekly paper Die Zeit hopes: "They could be seen as the first step in an unprecedented common defence policy. The Ukraine crisis could be for EU foreign policy what the financial crisis was for economic policy: a decisive step forward. Bearing the costs in the fight for peace together may make even more sense to the people than state help for banks. And in any case, the money would certainly be better invested. Nevertheless, the true test is still to come. Only if Putin decides to hit the EU's most vulnerable spots will we see how far the arduously negotiated solidarity extends. Imposing sanctions is easier than enduring them." (31/07/2014)


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L'Opinion - France

Hollande shunts Moscovici off to Brussels

France's President François Hollande on Wednesday officially proposed his former finance minister Pierre Moscovici as candidate for the EU Commission. For the liberal business paper L'Opinion the nomination reflects the unhealthy French habit of shunting unpopular politicians off to Brussels: "This custom demonstrates a threefold contempt: for voters, for European institutions, and for the other member states. It feeds French aversion towards the European project. ... And it undermines the credibility of the government, which is already being criticised by Germany for its claims to be exercising budgetary responsibility. There can only be one loser: France, whose representatives in Brussels and Strasbourg hardly have a chance at holding key posts. This reduces our country's influence, and thus also weakens the defence of its interests." (30/07/2014)

De Telegraaf - Netherlands

MH17: path to crash site leads through Moscow

Almost two weeks after the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, fighting continues to make the crash site inaccessible. An unbearable situation for the victims' families, the conservative daily De Telegraaf complains: "The salvage work will only become more difficult with every passing day. In addition a growing number of reports claim the crash site is now surrounded by mines. ... The experts are powerless, the accusations against the gangs of criminals supported by Russia grow more serious with each day that passes. Now is the time to show staying power. The Netherlands must continue to pressure all parties to obtain access to the disaster area. The unrest in Ukraine is being stoked by the horse trading in the Kremlin. In fact the path to the crash site leads through Moscow." (31/07/2014)

Sözcü - Turkey

No controls on votes by Turks living abroad

Starting today Turks living abroad may for the first time vote in Turkish presidential elections where they live, without having to travel back to Turkey. In most countries the ballot boxes will be set up in gymnasiums and trade fair halls, which can hardly guarantee secure balloting conditions, columnist Emin Çölaşan complains in the government critical daily Sözcü: "The ballot boxes will stand in these halls for days. ... Who will watch over them? At night when everyone's asleep, invisible hands can do their dirty work. And they will, of that I'm convinced. After that the ballot boxes will be taken to Turkey and stored in one depot or another until election Sunday on August 10. What sort of conditions are these? I'm expecting the worst. Erdoğan's supporters are extremely well organised in Europe. Companies they're allied with provide them with whopping injections of funds. ... So who's going to guarantee the security of ballot boxes abroad?" (30/07/2014)

Ziare - Romania

With Ponta a thief would be Romanian president

Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta on Tuesday demanded the support of his party, the PSD, for his candidacy in the presidential election in November. His plagiarised doctoral thesis hangs like a sword of Damocles over his bid for election, news portal Ziare comments: "The difference between the crime of stealing hundreds of pages from a book by another author and stealing an ice cream, a car, a wallet or anything else is merely formal. A person who steals the one thing is also capable of stealing something else. This means that his upbringing and mentality permit theft. A person for whom theft is acceptable is preparing to become president of Romania. A convicted thief may install himself as leader of this country. ... The ultimate question we must ask ourselves is: Should a thief of intellectual property represent us as a people?" (31/07/2014)

Wiener Zeitung - Austria

EU can't tolerate Orbán

After the controversial speech by right-wing conservative Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in which he invoked the end of liberal democracy, the Wiener Zeitung warns that the EU must react: "Already last year there were frowns all over Europe when he pushed through constitutional amendments that make a mockery of free, democratic society. Minor adjustments were made and the EU acted as if nothing had happened. But that's over now. If the EU takes a resolute course on Russia this raises the question of how it should deal with Hungary if the country continues to implement Orbán's nationalist standards. ... 'Liberal democracy is on its last legs', Orbán announced tersely, but clearly. If Hungary follows this postulate, and there are many indications that it will, the EU faces a major problem. There are no EU rules on how to proceed when a member state permanently violates the EU's fundamental laws. And Orbán knows this." (31/07/2014)

Berlingske - Denmark

One-sided criticism of Israel fans violence

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt has refused to sign a protest note in which her social-democratic partly leader colleagues in northern Europe condemn Israel's violence in Gaza. The liberal-conservative daily Berlingske argues that this was the right decision: "The EU resolution [on July 22 the EU foreign ministers called on Israel and Hamas to exercise restraint] is more realist than the automatic criticism of Israel voiced by the left every time a conflict erupts. ... The left's one-sided criticism of Israel encourages calls on the streets of Copenhagen and elsewhere in Europe for the persecution of the Jews. ... Neither the Palestinians nor the Jews living in Europe can be held responsible for the war in Gaza. But those who are trying to export the conflict to Europe must be held responsible." (31/07/2014)


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Corriere della Sera - Italy

Don Futterman on Israel's evil moral calculus

Israel won't come out of this new Gaza war with a clear conscience, Israeli columnist Don Futterman warns in the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera: "We are operating under a new moral calculus which gives carte blanche to 'collateral damage', to killing any and all Palestinians who might be in the line of fire of targeted Hamas operatives. We have made a choice to inflict pain on the people of Gaza and blame the other side for the brutality of our tactics. And since a high proportion of Gazans are kids, this means that the Jewish state is murdering many children. It is a horrible calculus, an evil and deadly calculus. ... If the Palestinians want to restore hope to Gaza, they will have to depose Hamas. But if we want anything better than the status quo ante, we will need leaders with a different vision as well." (31/07/2014)

El País - Spain

Juan Claudio de Ramón Jacob-Ernst mourns the murder of Jean Jaurès

The socialist politician and historian Jean Jaurès was shot a hundred years ago today by a French nationalist. A few days later the socialist parties of Europe gave up their anti-war stance and voted in the national parliaments in favour of the war loans. Jaurès' voice could have changed the course of history, diplomat Juan Claudio de Ramón Jacob-Ernst laments in the liberal daily El País: "On the afternoon of his murder he still believed the war could be prevented. He was discussing this with his colleagues in the Café du Croissant when a revolver poked through the window and fired two shots at his head. ... Jaurès, who right to the last minute wanted to prevent the debacle, still had two trumps to play: the unity of the European workers' movement and his own prestige. ... That night he was going to write a long article to change European public opinion. He wasn't able to. The front page of the following day didn't show Jaurès' signature under an urgent appeal, but the headline announcing his death. ... You don't have to be a socialist to mourn Jaurès' death." (31/07/2014)


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Spiegel Online - Germany

Argentina to blame for state bankruptcy

For the second time in thirteen years, Argentina is on the verge of state bankruptcy. The final deadline for negotiating a solution with creditors expired on Wednesday night, and the rating agency Stand & Poor's has declared the country insolvent. However it's not the two US hedge funds with their demands for payment that are to blame, but country's political elite, the weekly news magazine Der Spiegel argues: "Argentina could easily come up with the money. Even fears that a compromise with the hedge funds could result in additional claims from other creditors could be avoided - for example by first depositing the money with a trustee... The real problem is the legend so cherished in Buenos Aires that Argentina is being punished for its resistance to an international financial mafia. A tale that at the same time ensures the political survival of [Argentinian President] Kirchner & Co. ... But there is one upside to the whole thing: Argentina has now become so unimportant for the global economy that the bankruptcy is unlikely to trigger an earthquake on the global financial markets." (31/07/2014)

Trends Tendances - Belgium

Budget airliines profit from inconsistence

The budget airlines Ryanair and Easyjet have presented their quarterly figures and both show a marked rise in sales over the past months. This success is due to the inconsistent behaviour of consumers, the business magazine Trends Tendances believes: "In today's world, low-cost providers are the most successful. You can see it in the retail business, for example the retail chains Aldi and Lidl. And it's the same with the airline sector. ... Ryanair is one of those companies that people love to criticise but that despite everything they keep coming back to. Because in fact people are often anti-globalists in private but very liberal as consumers. That's the schizophrenia of our time." (30/07/2014)


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Večernji list - Croatia

Sarajevo feels for Gaza

For days Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, has been announcing its support for the people in Gaza. But they are united by more than just Muslim solidarity, the conservative daily Večernji List explains: "The situation in which the Palestinian enclave now finds itself is a painful reminder to the inhabitants of Sarajevo of the 47-month siege of their city in the 1990s. A total blockade, destruction, victims, hardly any water or electricity and dependence on humanitarian aid - they share this terrible experience. And as in Gaza, in Sarajevo too the tunnel that led under the ring of Serb besiegers was the only hope for the entrapped people. Soldiers entered and left through the tunnel, as well as food, medication, firewood - everything that a city in a prolonged state of isolation and blockade needs. No one knows better than the people of Sarajevo what a narrow underground tunnel can mean for survival." (31/07/2014)

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