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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 19/09/2014



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Scotland says No to independence

Almost 85 percent of those eligible to vote took part in the referendum. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


The people of Scotland have rejected independence from the United Kingdom more clearly than anticipated. According to the official results of Thursday's referendum, a good 55 percent of voters ticked "No". The UK is nonetheless facing a new beginning, commentators write, praising London for its openness in dealing with the Scottish separatists.

The Guardian - United Kingdom

Time for a fresh start

Even if the Scottish population has voted against independence, simply consolidating the status quo would be the wrong approach, the left-liberal daily The Guardian stresses: "Something that thousands of Scots wanted to be wonderful or merely just to witness has disappeared. The anticlimax will be cruel and crushing. For others, the majority, there will be thankfulness above all but uneasiness too. Thursday's vote exposed a Scotland divided down the middle and against itself. ... Healing that hurt will not be easy or quick. It's time to put away all flags. The immediate political question now suddenly moves to London. … The deal [of a new devolution settlement] needs to be on the table by the end of next month. It will not be easy to reconcile all the interests - Scots, English, Welsh, Northern Irish and local. But it is an epochal opportunity. The plan, like the banks, is too big to fail." (19/09/2014)

Corriere della Sera - Italy

On course for a federalised kingdom

Despite their defeat in the referendum the Scottish separatists have emerged victorious, the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera comments: "From today nothing is as it was before in the UK. The referendum experience will have a lasting impact. It will weigh on the future of the Conservatives and Labour alike. Because both Prime Minister David Cameron and opposition leader Ed Miliband made a grave mistake: they underestimated the separatists. Even if the disaster of separation has been prevented, granting Scotland more sovereignty starting with taxation and the welfare system will be inevitable. This means moving towards a federal state system. A beautiful chapter in British history has ended and a new one has begun." (19/09/2014)

Hospodářské noviny - Czech Republic

Cameron has proven himself as statesman

The fact that the referendum on Scotland's future took place at all was a great achievement for British Prime Minister David Cameron, the liberal daily Hospodářské noviny comments approvingly: "Cameron has proven his mettle as a statesman. After all, it doesn't make sense to insist on a union when one side doesn't want it any more. Cameron was more interested in a majority decision than political power games, and for this he deserves our respect. The fate of Czechoslovakia, which was split up in 1992/1993 on the basis of an agreement between the national political leaders, was often recalled during the campaign in Scotland. Back then the people never got the chance to decide for or against a common state. The politicians said the people had already expressed their wished in the previous elections - which wasn't actually true. To this day the division still has a bitter aftertaste." (19/09/2014)

Diário de Notícias - Portugal

Both sides behaved like real gentlemen

"A gentlemen's agreement" is the term the liberal-conservative daily Diário de Notícias uses to describe the smooth progression of the Scottish referendum: "The civilised manner in which one of the most successful political projects in history allowed its very foundations to be called into question is admirable. Despite a very strong nationalist camp it was made clear in advance that in the event of the No camp winning, another referendum would not take place for at least a generation. ... Since Scotland's annexation in the 18th century the UK has had much to thank the Scots for. Its inventors contributed to the Industrial Revolution, its soldiers helped build the British Empire. But the Scots were treated well in return. Their living standard is admirable and the two prime ministers before Cameron [Brown and Blair] were Scots. ... All those who have followed the referendum can and must learn important lessons from it." (18/09/2014)

Le Soir - Belgium

EU at a loss over national identities

The referendum in Scotland has failed to provide an answer to the question of how the EU should deal with the struggles for national identity within its borders, the liberal daily Le Soir comments: "Is independence the most appropriate form for allowing people to express their identity and build the type of community that corresponds to their wishes? In Spain, the UK and in Belgium we have yet to hear a convincing yes argument in the context of the EU. That doesn't allow us to call such nationalist aspirations illegitimate, and gives us even fewer grounds to deny people the right to put them to a vote. And it certainly does not entitle the EU to threaten that [in case of a vote for independence] it will not allow the new countries to become members in their own right. Until now the supporters of the existing order, the independentists and the Europeans have in general avoided asking the real question: how can aspirations to national identity be reconciled with a united Europe?" (18/09/2014)


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Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - Germany

Putin's empty threats against Nato

Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly said in a phone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko that Russian troops would be able to take Warsaw, Riga or Vilnius within two weeks. Poroshenko informed European Commission President José Manuel Barroso of this last week. The conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung believes Putin is just trying to conceal his weaknesses with this threat: "If Putin is indeed boasting about his military options in conversations with Western or Ukrainian politicians this would be an indication of the true state of Russia's power. In its response to the sanctions we could already observe that the Kremlin has few economic instruments to counter the pressure of the West; its trump card is the threat of violence. This threat needn't be taken all too seriously when it comes to states that are members of Nato. Even Putin won't risk a war with the alliance because of Ukraine." (19/09/2014)

El Mundo - Spain

France's anti-terrorism law examplary

France's National Assembly on Thursday passed anti-terror legislation which Paris hopes will stop French citizens from joining the terrorist Islamic State. Suspects may now be prevented from leaving the country and websites aimed at recruitment blocked. France is setting a good example, the conservative daily El Mundo applauds: "The EU states find themselves forced to tighten their laws to counter jihadism. Preventing citizens born or raised in the West from becoming IS terrorists is now a priority, mainly because of the risk that these new mujaheddin return determined to carry out attacks after having fought in Syria or Iraq. ... This is not about losing freedom to gain security but about creating an effective penal and deterrent system while protecting basic rights." (19/09/2014)

Le Figaro - France

Hollande wants no more talk of reforms

Speaking on Thursday in the fourth biannual press conference of his term in office, France's President François Hollande focused on international crisis management. Domestic reforms have been wiped from the controversial head of state's agenda, the conservative daily Le Figaro concludes: "It's not easy to follow this president. He implicitly acknowledges that his policies are a failure, but he denies anyone else the right to propose an alternative. Revise an obsolete social model? He won't hear of it. Work out a genuine and ambitious austerity plan? Nope. Relax the 35-hour work week regulations? Out of the question. Mass dismissals in the public sector and the state apparatus? No, no, a thousand times no. For lack of a truly audacious and goal-oriented policy, the president of the republic is condemning himself to a long-term practice of self-justification that won't convince a soul but will plunge the country into ruin." (18/09/2014)

Dagens Nyheter - Sweden

Sweden Democrats also entitled to posts

Following fierce debate and because of their strong performance in the parliamentary elections, the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats were granted one of the vice-president posts in the Swedish parliament on Thursday. The liberal daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter sees the move as correct: "Now that the SD has been given this post, one can expect it to act appropriately and appoint one of its more moderate representatives. At the same time we can also expect the other members [of parliament] to treat the SD members respectfully - and to remember that the holder of the office is a representative of our parliamentary democracy. For the opponents of the SD it would have been best if the latter hadn't got into parliament at all. But it's there now. Democracy has done its work. The party must now be countered with facts and arguments in open debates." (19/09/2014)

Etelä-Suomen-Sanomat - Finland

Helsinki is tough on Moscow after all

Finland's Greens have withdrawn from the government after the latter decided to stick to the Finnish-Russian group Fennovoima's controversial plans for a nuclear power plant in Pyhäjoki. The outgoing Green environmental minister Ville Niinistö had criticised Russia's strong influence on the project. This is nonsense, the liberal daily Etelä-Suomen Sanomat counters: "Niinistö has made history because never before has the accusation of Finlandisation [a strong neighbouring state having too much influence in a country] come from government ranks. … This is utter nonsense. Today's Finland is light years away from the Finland of the Cold War that always took the interests of its eastern neighbour into account and would never have dared join in on sanctions against it. With this faux pas Niinistö has done the government a disservice upon his departure. It will have an even harder time convincing the other EU states that Finland won't step out of line when it comes to persuading Russia to make peace in Ukraine." (19/09/2014)

Delo - Slovenia

No honeymoon for Slovenia's new government

Two months after snap parliamentary elections Slovenia once again has a government. On Thursday evening the parliament approved an alliance put together by Prime Minister Miro Cerar between his SMC party, the pensioners' party DeSUS and the Social Democrats. The coalition is under pressure right from the start, the left-liberal daily Delo comments: "The new government must make urgent decisions, first of all about privatisation and fixing public finances. ... It won't, as is customary, have 100 days without criticism to familiarise itself with its task. Any new government inspires hopes that in one, two or four years things will improve. ... After his big election victory will Prime Minister Miro Cerar manage to reverse the trend of distrust of the executive and the politicians? ... We very much hope the new government will play together as an effective team under a coach with a clear vision." (19/09/2014)


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Világgazdaság - Hungary

Hungary puts energy companies in a tight spot

Hungary's right-wing conservative government will once again reduce utility costs in October, this time those for long-distance heating. The government has repeatedly cut ancillary living costs since January 2013. It's above all the public utility companies that foot the bill, the liberal business paper Világgazdaság writes: "We have every reason to be happy: after the 20 percent reduction in ancillary costs last year, energy costs were lowered by 5.7 percent on September 1. Now in October long-distance heating costs will be reduced by 3.3 percent. ... According to the government, Hungarian households may save on average 150,000 to 200,000 forint [around 480 to 640 euros] per year. ... However as a result of the state price controls, the gap between the official price and the market price is continually growing, and someone has to pick up the tab. And that someone is the public utility companies." (18/09/2014)

De Volkskrant - Netherlands

Dutch need sensible tax reform

The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Thursday rejected the opposition's call for a sweeping fiscal reform within one year, saying he prefers to wait until he has sufficient support for the move. That's doing things the wrong way round, the left-liberal daily De Volkskrant complains: "Harmonising the extremely complex tax system calls for vision and understanding, not just balling different desires and interests together. The current system with its confusion of premiums, exemptions and deductions has become so complex precisely because every interest group with its own wish list had to be satisfied. ... The main focus of the reform is to make the taxation system more dependent on consumption and income. And in principle both measures meet with little resistance. ... Now, however, the reform threatens to fail as a result of ideological differences even though a new taxation system should be free of such ideological considerations." (19/09/2014)


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Agos - Turkey

US leaves Mid East Christians in the lurch

US President Barack Obama met last week with Christian patriarchs from Syria, Iraq and Lebanon to discuss the threat the terrorist militia Islamic State (IS) poses to Christians. But the latter can hardly expect help from the US, the weekly paper of the Armenian minority Agos complains: "As deep as the divide between Russia and the West may be, the Christians of the Middle East are no closer to the Western world. The first reason is of course confessional: most Christians in the Middle East are Orthodox, while in the West they're Protestant or Catholic. ... Now Obama has met with the patriarchs to save face and have history written in a certain way. Has that brought any advantages? ... Will the US bombing the IS guarantee the security of the Christians?" (19/09/2014)

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

Quarantine questionable in fight against Ebola

The government of Sierra Leone imposed a lockdown of at least three days on Thursday in the efforts to contain the Ebola virus. But such quarantine measures are a questionable means of fighting the epidemic, the liberal-conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung comments: "They promote a climate of denunciation and hinder food supplies. Epidemiologists also point out that putting the entire population under house arrest could lead to more rather than fewer infections. But above all: what happens to those who are infected? There are neither enough beds nor enough personnel in the medical facilities to take care of them all. Apart from quarantine in the restricted sense, the countries that are the most affected by Ebola - Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea - are also increasingly enduring a sort of economic quarantine. Most airlines no longer fly there, economic projects are being put on ice, planned investments questioned. ...The World Bank has calculated losses running into the billions for the region in the coming years." (19/09/2014)

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