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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 16/03/2015



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Grexit discussion once more on the table

Varoufakis stressed on German TV channel ARD that his country would get its budget problems under control. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


The Greek government on Sunday denied media reports that the country could be insolvent as early as the end of the month. EU Council President Donald Tusk has warned meanwhile that Greece could be forced to leave the Eurozone against its will. Some commentators stress that the Greeks must finally decide whether they want to stay in the monetary union. Others criticise the EU for clinging to dysfunctional rules.

Le Figaro - France

In or out: Tsipras must decide

Whether he likes it or not Alexis Tsipras faces the choice between implementing his programme or keeping Greece in the Eurozone, the conservative daily Le Figaro demands: "The problem is not liquidity but a lack of creditworthiness. The crisis in Greece can only be solved through profound domestic reforms with the support of the EU. But since the basic agreement of February 20, Greece hasn't presented a credible reform programme - or even economic data. Alexis Tsipras must choose between sticking to his programme or Greece's remaining in the Eurozone. But as he lacks the courage to make a move one way or the other, he is now threatening to hold a referendum or new elections. With the risk of playing right into the hands of the Nazis of Golden Dawn. As so often in history, the far left is paving the way for the far right." (16/03/2015)

Financial Times - United Kingdom

Grexit would be disastrous in the short term

Greece's exit from the Eurozone would cut off the country from the external funding it so urgently needs, the liberal business daily the Financial Times warns: "A Grexit is not an outcome any rational person would wish for. ... It is unclear how the global financial system would cope. The eurozone's fledgling economic recovery would be at risk. For Greece an exit may well work in the long run if it is well managed; but it will bring economic misery in the short term. The country is still running a current account deficit, meaning it is reliant on external funding to support domestic consumption. That funding may disappear from one day to the next, should Greece default on its creditors." (15/03/2015)

Der Tagesspiegel - Germany

Euro Group fears left-wing governments

The struggle between Athens and the other euro states is not primarily about money, the liberal-conservative daily Der Tagesspiegel believes: "It seems the administrators of the euro crisis are more afraid of a leftist government than of the billions in losses from unpaid loans that the failure of the Tsipras government would entail. Ultimately this example could set a precedent. ... But if those who resist reforms in Berlin and Brussels really do manage to impose their old, failed programme on the rebels in Athens, the ensuing risk will pose a far greater threat than Syriza and other similar parties could ever do. Because a victory over the rebels in Athens would send a disastrous signal across Europe. Either the economically weaker countries kowtow to the Germans and their agents in Brussels or they'll be driven into economic decline. That, however, would be the biggest electoral boost that Marine Le Pen, her Front National and all anti-Europeans could ever hope for." (16/03/2015)

Delo - Slovenia

Athens' plight just a little foretaste

In its dealings with Greece the EU is clinging to rules that are doomed to fail, the left-liberal daily Delo criticises: "The problem is that the EU and Brussels can't be right a priori in the dispute with Athens because the member states are still acting as if their rules were okay. And as if another Greek amputation was inevitable. Berlin is even less right because it is intent on healing all Europe with measures that have been proven wrong, and it has intentionally or unintentionally become a despot in Europe. Athens is perhaps really an excess that can't be saved by the rules that apply in Europe, but the Greeks aren't the main problem here. The main problem is the wrong approach to saving what led to this excess. The longer Europe sticks to this approach, the more likely it is that it will end up in the situation the Greeks are already in." (14/03/2015)


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Welt am Sonntag - Germany

It makes no difference who governs Israel

Israel will elect a new parliament on Tuesday. According to opinion polls, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party are trailing behind the centre-left alliance of Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni. But in fact it makes no difference who wins the elections, the conservative Sunday paper Welt am Sonntag comments: "At best, yoghurt would cost less in the stores. But everything else would remain as it is: in a state of unstable equilibrium. Because neither Israel nor the Palestinians have any interest in changing the status quo. They negotiate with each other - or pretend to - because it's expected and demanded of them. ... The fact that the Europeans, who have revealed the full extent of their helplessness over the Ukraine crisis, now think they can solve the Middle East conflict only shows that they have no idea of history and tend to overestimate their own capabilities. Some conflicts are so complex that they can't be solved; all you can do is try to limit the damage and hope that one day they'll solve themselves." (15/03/2015)

Dziennik Gazeta Prawna - Poland

Crimea annexation not a success for Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin didn't do himself any favours with the annexation of Crimea one year ago, journalist Zbigniev Parafianowicz writes in the conservative daily Dziennik Gazeta Prawna: "The annexation was meant to underpin the myth of Russian conquests. Nevertheless we can counter that Crimea is ill suited to this purpose. It's dependent on Nova Kachovka [in southern Ukraine] for 80 percent of its water and power. What's more, you can't even pay by credit card on the peninsula, or reach it by normal air routes. Crimea is like a Potemkin village for the Kremlin." (16/03/2015)

Dagens Nyheter - Sweden

Who cares about Putin's health?

The world has better things to do than speculate about why Russian President Vladimir Putin hasn't shown himself in public for so long, the liberal daily Dagens Nyheter admonishes: "Kremlinologists can speculate about how long Putin's disappearance will last before it triggers a serious crisis. But a more important question is how long Russia can distance itself from the democratic West. In times of threats of using the force of arms and sanctions it's important to remember that there's also another option. One that has neither winners nor losers and leads to the greatest possible prosperity for all. This approach means peace, disarmament, openness, a functioning rule of law, trade, market economy reforms, free media and democracy. For a while it looked like the Kremlin was seriously taking this course. It can do so once more, and the first step in that direction would be to discontinue all aggressions against Ukraine." (16/03/2015)

Yeni Şafak - Turkey

The alternative to IS is democracy, not Assad

On the fourth anniversary of the outbreak of the civil war in Syria US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday that the US was considering negotiating with President Bashar al-Assad. All of a sudden the dictator is the lesser evil for the West, the Islamic-conservative daily Yeni Şafak notes with surprise: "The US now sees the Islamic State as public enemy number one, yet strangely it still hasn't grasped that the only reason why the IS emerged in the first place was its initial hesitation in taking action against Assad. ... But why don't the US and the EU member states see democracy as an alternative to Assad? It's as if they consider the Syrian people unworthy of democracy, just as they see democracy as inappropriate for other Arab countries. ... What they're really looking for is a different version of Assad, a dictator who suppresses the opposition from above. But they can't find anyone better than Assad to do that." (16/03/2015)


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El País - Spain

For Lluís Bassets the catastrophe in Syria due to failure in Libya

The international community's inability to bring peace to Syria is also a result of its failure in Libya, which cost it its credibility, Lluís Bassets maintains in his blog with the left-liberal daily El País: "The defeat in Syria is also a consequence of the disaster in Libya, where Nato bombarded Gadafi with the Security Council's backing to protect the civil population, but not to effect a change of regime. Libya is now divided by civil war, and the United Nation's principle of assuming the responsibility of protecting the civil population has been left in tatters and rendered useless for Syria and probably for all other cases too. In Syria a historical event has also occurred, born of the civil war, namely the emergence of the Islamic State, which wants to erase the border between Syria and Iraq and has surpassed al-Qaeda not just in cruelty, but also in dangerousness. Because its ominous caliphate aspires to become an Islamic empire and has set its sights on Europe." (16/03/2015)


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La Stampa - Italy

Weak euro highlights Europe's inadequacies

The value of the euro dropped to a new all-time low of just over 1.05 dollars on Friday, and continued its downwards spiral on the weekend. The weakness of the euro may be welcomed initially but it is ultimately a sign of the weakness of the European Union, the liberal daily La Stampa complains: "The key question is: why is the euro plunging so suddenly and so quickly? Because of the Greece crisis, some may rashly reply. But in addition to Greece a generalised sense of 'European disgruntlement' can be observed. The causes don't lie in Athens but in Brussels and Strasbourg. There the ideal of creating a joint house for all Europeans has faded into the distance and been replaced by a gigantic bureaucracy in which all national interests conflict with each other. ... The devaluation of the euro goes hand in hand with the short-sightedness and utter ineptitude of Europe's society and politicians, which are certainly not confined to its economy." (16/03/2015)

De Standaard - Belgium

Belgians railway workers hurting the unions

The Belgian railway union ASTB has announced another strike for April. But the action will only harm the interests of other workers, columnist Dimitri Verbelen writes in the liberal daily De Standaard: "The worst thing is that as a result of this strike many people will lump together all the work done by unions. If once again workers who have more social security to lose than a handful of train drivers go on strike, it will only further reduce people's understanding for their cause. By contrast popular support for privatisation and tough measures is growing. That was already clear with the last elections. Who still has the right to talk about solidarity? The ASTB is delivering munition to anyone who wants to put in question everything the union pioneers have achieved over the years. With such friends, who needs 'neo-liberal enemies'?" (16/03/2015)


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24 Chasa - Bulgaria

Bulgaria a career quagmire

According to media reports the Bulgarian Iva Petrova will lead an IMF team in Greece. Yet her home country is in far more urgent need of people with her leadership skills, the daily 24 Chasa complains: "Iva Petrova is one of many Bulgarians who have made a name for herself abroad. And this immediately raises the question of why so many Bulgarians are successful abroad while we here in Bulgaria sink deeper and deeper into the swamp? The simple but unpleasant answer is that it's because we are a dirty state in which most of the top posts are allocated not according to professional qualifications but according to family and party membership - or because you're particularly good at sucking up to people. This means we'll never build up a leading elite or find people who can bring the country forward." (16/03/2015)

Delfi - Lithuania

Gulag criminals rehabilitated in Perm

According to Russian media the terrain of the Gulag museum Perm-36 in the northern Urals is to be transformed into a memorial for those who were employed in the Gulags. This amounts to a rehabilitation of the criminals who worked there, philosopher Gintautas Mažeikis writes on the web portal Delfi: "Perm is etched particularly vividly into the memories of Lithuanians exiled there in the post-war period, and especially political prisoners of late Soviet times. ... Soon the site will extol the heroic resistance of the Soviet people to the 'Forest Brotherhood' and Stepan Bandera's Galicia (Western Ukraine). It will decry the political traitors in the USSR and praise the humanism of the Gulag system, as well as its efficiency at preventing dissident crimes. It's as if Auschwitz wardens were to return to the former Nazi extermination camp and cynically recount the honourable role they played in making sure the Holocaust went according to plan." (16/03/2015)


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Der Standard - Austria

Erdoğan's hypocritical anti-Twitter campaign

Three people have been arrested in the last week in Turkey for allegedly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Twitter. Hardly any other country in the world prosecutes social network users so frequently, the left-liberal daily Der Standard criticises, seeing this as part of a hypocritical campaign: "Erdoğan himself has revealed the objective of these police state tactics with admirable clarity: the goal is the 'extermination' of Twitter and all other online social networks. Because what the Turkish government can't control is harmful. The hypocrisy is considerable. Smear campaigns against journalists and the defamation of citizens who voice criticism are bread and butter for the tweeting AKP functionaries and their trolls. The terrorist army 'Islamic State' (IS), on the other hand, needn't worry at all about its Internet propaganda in the otherwise so sensitive Turkey." (16/03/2015)


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The Malta Independent - Malta

Malta wasting money flying voters home

The government in Malta will pick up part of the tab for Maltese citizens to fly home and vote in the April 11 referendum on banning spring hunting. The money would be better spent modernising the country's electoral system, the liberal-conservative daily The Malta Independent rails: "Developing other far more administratively, financially, politically, and organisationally viable ways to get to the ballot does not simply benefit those who are living abroad, it offers those living in Malta the flexibility to choose how to cast their vote. ... I am no mathematician, but even totalling the cumulative costs of flying people down to Malta every election or referendum in the last 10 years would be substantial enough an amount to make a considerable contribution towards creating a far more flexible electoral infrastructure." (15/03/2015)

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