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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 12/03/2015

 

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Berlin and Athens wrangle over reparations

Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos threatened to seize German property in Greece if Berlin refuses to pay. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

The German government on Wednesday dismissed demands by the Greek prime minister for reparations for Nazi crimes committed during World War II. Speaking to the the Greek parliament on Tuesday, Tsipras had called for billions of euros in compensation. The Greek leader is once more going way out on a limb in the debt crisis, some commentators complain. Others praise Tsipras for holding up the mirror of history to Germany.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - Germany

Athens' demands are dangerous nonsense

Since the Two Plus Four agreement of 1990/91, officially the Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany, the question of reparations claims has been settled, in the view of the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: "Basically everyone was in agreement at the time that such demands on the basis of indisputably terrible crimes were obsolete in the context of today's peaceful order. German and European courts, as well as the International Court of Justice, decided not to reopen the reparations issue for good reasons. ... Germany has always acknowledged its responsibility for the irreparable wrongs it committed - and paid for them. But anyone who tries to pull out this card again today must know what they're doing. Not only has the matter been settled from a legal point of view, it is also dangerous nonsense at a time when Germany would actually be entitled to respond even to justified claims from Athens with a hefty bill of its own." (12/03/2015)

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

Tsipras just countering German severity

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is cleverly holding up the mirror of history to the Germans with his demands for reparations, the conservative daily Lidové noviny comments: "Tsipras wants a debt cut. That's why he's bringing up the topic of World War II. When a notorious debtor nation demands a debt write-down it can't avoid looking like a spoiled brat. But if it casts itself in the role of non-compensated war victim, it is morally superior. Tsipras is asking whether Germany is acting morally. But that, in turn, raises the next question: is it moral not to repay your debts? ... When Germany's repayment of war reparations was deferred pending a peace treaty in 1953, everyone sensed that these payments would never be made. But equally, everyone can also sense that Greece will never repay its debts. In this respect Germany's strict stance vis-à-vis Athens is hypocritical." (12/03/2015)

Blog Pitsirikos - Greece

Greece on the offensive for the first time

The Greek Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos wants to allow the seizure of German property in Greece pending an agreement on Greece's demands for war reparations. Blogger Pitsirikos concludes that Athens is going on the offensive: "For the first time in many years the German government is having to take a defensive stance with regard to Greece. This game is called 'politics'. ... For the first time Greece is officially demanding reparations because for the first time it has a government with which the Germans can't just do what they want. ... Germany has made a big mistake. It put too much pressure on Greece, and in doing so it forced the Greeks to vote out the politicians and parties that Germany had under its control. And in so doing, the German government has lost this game." (11/03/2015)

POLITICS

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De Telegraaf - Netherlands

Court stops spying in the Netherlands

A court in The Hague repealed the Netherlands' data retention law on Wednesday, ruling that it violated citizens' privacy rights. The conservative daily De Telegraaf welcomes the decision: "The Dutch law was pretty useless. Even in cases of stolen bikes, law enforcement authorities could demand telephone or Internet data. Moreover a lot of data that wasn't necessary for crime prevention ended up in the database. The State Secretary at the Justice Ministry, Fred Teeven, thought a few adjustments to the law would solve the problems. The parliament was also willing to approve the changes. But the judge pulled the legislators up short. ... This all too broadly formulated law allowed the state to invade the privacy of innocent citizens even more unrestrainedly than before." (12/03/2015)

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

FN is an authoritarian family business

The leader of France's far-right Front National, Marine Le Pen, would emerge the clear winner of the first round of presidential elections if they were held today, according to the latest opinion polls. One look at her party shows just how little she thinks of democracy, the liberal-conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung comments: "She's found a friend in Russia's President Putin. He lends her money, and no doubt the two would also agree regarding their views on leadership, which they love to dish up with a healthy dose of patriotic ranting. It's clear that any semblance of democracy in the Front National is only pretence; the party is run by the Le Pens like a family business. The boss gives the orders, internal debates are unwelcome. And the next generation is already ready and waiting in the person of Marion Maréchal-Le Pen. The granddaughter of the party founder is the youngest member of the French National Assembly, and she is pitiless when it comes to rhetoric. On the odd occasions when Marine Le Pen is not quite bad enough, her niece picks up the slack and shows what the FN really stands for: a revolution from the right." (12/03/2015)

Sözcü - Turkey

Turkish spy chief to serve AKP election campaign

Hakan Fidan has been reappointed as head of the Turkish National Intelligence Organisation (MIT). He had resigned the post a month ago to run for the ruling party AKP in parliamentary elections, but has returned to his old position following protests from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Such blatant entanglement between the intelligence service and politics is unacceptable, the government critical daily Sözcü argues: "The MIT intelligence service  is supposed to be neutral and national. ... But since the day before yesterday a dark suspicion has taken hold. At least 50 percent of the population now believe the intelligence service does everything Erdoğan wants it to. He wants to bring 400 MPs [from his party in the June elections] into parliament. The MIT will work to help him: harassing, intimidating, intercepting, causing incidents that damage the opposition's reputation and creating scenarios that make the government party look good. ... It will do everything the presidential palace orders to secure those 400 parliamentary seats." (12/03/2015)

Diário de Notícias - Portugal

PM divides Portugal over private affair

Portugal's Prime Minister Passos Coelho made a brief statement on Wednesday denying allegations that he still owes money to the social insurance authorities. That's not enough, the liberal-conservative daily Diário de Notícias writes: "Many things could have been cleared up in the meantime if Passos Coelho had fully answered the questions he was asked or had called a press conference to settle the affair. ... Unfortunately that didn't happen and Portugal is once again divided into two camps that are loudly voicing their opinions: those who firmly believe in the prime minister's version and those who vehemently question it. Both sides are acting out of pure instinct and without possessing any objective information." (11/03/2015)

ECONOMY

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Le Vif / L'Express - Belgium

Belgium must stop subsidising work

Forty-two percent of the workforce in Belgium is on the government payroll and 80 percent of jobs created since 2000 are largely state-subsidised, according to the annual report of the Belgian National Bank made public in mid-February. The imbalances on the country's labour market reveal a fatal trend, the weekly magazine Le Vif/L'Express writes: "The state can no longer bear this burden. Too few jobs are being created in industry, trade, banking, insurance and the service sector. It's astonishing that since 2000 the industrial sector in our country has seen the largest number of job cuts in all Europe. ... Today, far too few people actually work in Belgium. ... The number of those who work for longer must be increased. Otherwise the costs of an ageing society and the social security system will become unaffordable. That is why we need more jobs - preferably not financed by the state." (11/03/2015)

Göteborgs-Posten - Sweden

Sweden must react courageously to job cuts

The world's biggest provider of communications technology and services Ericsson announced on Wednesday plans to axe 2,200 of a total of 17,000 jobs in Sweden. Shortly before the announcement mobile phone giant Sony Mobile also said that it would cut 1,000 jobs. Sweden must do all it can to counter this trend, the liberal daily Göteborgs-Posten stresses: "Enterprise and Innovation Minister Mikael Damberg has set up an aid network to tap the competence of the soon-to-be unemployed. ... But such quick fixes aren't enough. If Sweden wants to look optimistically into the future, fundamental reforms are needed. Innovation and product development must be fostered, the climate for small businesses must be made more dynamic. And we have to make targeted investments in research. ... Sweden must offer unique products. In addition the [red-green] government must get a move on with reforming the labour market [and particularly the labour law]." (12/03/2015)

SOCIETY

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Daily Mail - United Kingdom

Terrorists' parents casting themselves as victims

Speaking to the Home Affairs Committee of the British parliament on Tuesday, the parents of three Muslim schoolgirls from London said the authorities were partially to blame for the fact that their daughters had gone to Syria. The three minors are said to have joined the Islamic State as 'jihadi brides'. But the parents have failed and society must make this clear to them, the conservative tabloid The Daily Mail argues: "Don't all Britons - especially parents, teachers and religious leaders - have a solemn duty to instil in the young a moral sense of the evil of terrorism? Yet instead of pointing this out to the families yesterday, MPs lavished sympathy on them and, in their craven reluctance to offend Muslim feelings, encouraged this bogus victim culture. ... And what sort of twisted society is it that points the finger of blame at its defenders, while painting terrorists and their families as victims?" (11/03/2015)

La Repubblica - Italy

Muslims must become Italian citizens

After Austria passed a new Islam law Italy now also plans to introduce new regulations for the integration of Muslims. If the goal is to enlist their support in the fight against jihadism they must be given Italian citizenship, the left-liberal daily La Repubblica advises: "The more the Muslims come to see themselves as part of the national collective rather than foreign elements, the more effective their inclusion in the fight will be. This goes above all for states where the majority of Muslims don't have citizenship and Islam is seen as a religion of foreigners, as is the case with Austria and Italy. ... Both states are pursuing the same goal with different strategies. ... To give the project of creating a national Islam more force, the law on citizenship must be based on the place of birth principle." (12/03/2015)

Pravda - Slovakia

Rampant corruption among Slovakia's doctors

A doctor's public admission that he accepted bribes from patients has caused uproar in Slovakia. The left-leaning daily Pravda harshly condemns the medical profession: "When the doctors went on strike four years ago they argued that they weren't receiving adequate pay in comparison to other professional groups - and contrasted their pay with that of teachers, private sector employees and others. ... From the patients' point of view this raises the question of whether the standard of medical care they received rose along with the doctors' salaries. The corruption now coming to light provides a clear answer to this question. Statistics according to which 75 percent of patients pay bribes to their doctors speak for themselves. Moreover checks have revealed that the tax declarations of one in two doctors are incorrect. ... The healthcare system is chronically ill. At least certain basic rules must be observed. Otherwise it will all just get worse." (12/03/2015)

Evening Herald - Ireland

Yes to gay marriage in Ireland no sure bet

The Irish will vote on May 22 on a change to the law that would enable gay couples to get married. The opinion polls indicate widespread approval but this may be deceptive, the conservative Evening Herald warns: "Yes campaigners might like to believe they have right on their side, so obviously rendering any campaigning by the No side insulting and irrelevant at the same time. That may be the rock they perish on. The fact is that a large silent body of people is out there, ready to vote No. Those people go largely unrecorded in opinion polls because, in opinion polls, you have to tell a researcher, face to face or on the phone, that you espouse an unpopular viewpoint. When you drop your folded-over voting sheet into the ballot box, however, nobody other than you knows how you have voted." (11/03/2015)

NaTemat - Poland

Nature as a model for in vitro fertilisation

The Polish government introduced a bill on artificial insemination on Tuesday stipulating among other things that husbands must give their approval before the insemination takes place, while unmarried partners need not. This article must be dropped, the MEP and biologist Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz writes on the blog portal naTemat: "From a biological point of view the man can't just suddenly withdraw his consent once fertilisation has taken place - and that should not be the case here either. The resulting embryo simply settles in the womb and the pregnancy takes its course. And the law must regulate the process in the same way. Spouses and unmarried partners must be treated equally. From a legal standpoint this would be best expressed by simply dropping the obligation to obtain consent." (12/03/2015)

LOCAL COLOURS

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El País - Spain

Castellón Airport finally gets some planes

Ryanair announced on Wednesday plans to become the first airline to fly to Spain's Castellón Airport, which has gone unused since its inauguration in 2011. The left-liberal daily El País points to another absurd major project launched by the autonomous community of Valencia: "And in this way Fabra [the imprisoned ex-president of Castelló province] and Camps [the acquitted ex-president of the autonomous community of Valencia] can say they were right all along. The Sunday day-trippers who were supposed to divert attention from the lack of air traffic must now make way for the Ryanair planes. Will this remain a ghost airport? Yes, but with airplanes. All we need now is for the Villarreal library - which can house 75,000 volumes but whose shelves, following the powerful example of the airport, have remained empty - to be filled with books. Oh, those happy days when the main goal was to waste public money and inaugurate buildings, even if they remained empty shells." (12/03/2015)

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