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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 19/03/2015



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Grief after attack in Tunisia

Thousands of mourners gathered in Tunis on Wednesday night. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


Twenty-one people were killed in a terrorist attack at Bardo National Museum in Tunis on Wednesday. Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi said after the attack that his country would fight terrorists "to our last breath". The beacon of democracy in the Arab world has been hit to the quick, some commentators lament. Others believe the barbarity of the jihadists will strengthen secular forces.

Libération - France

Attack struck the heart of Tunisia

The jihadists deliberately selected the site of their attack because it is symbolic of Tunisia's flourishing democracy and economy, the left-liberal daily Libération comments: "Tunisia is the only country in the so-called Arab world that suffers neither from a military that decides who will be president and who will beg on the streets, nor from the curse of oil revenues. And it's the only one where the president is - genuinely - elected. That is what's known as democracy, and Tunisia is the only promising example of it in this crippled Arab world. Yesterday's attack struck at the very heart of this society: in a haven of culture (a museum, like the ones the Islamic State has taken to smashing with hammers), killing tourists (the country's key source of revenue), next to parliament (seat of the fragile democracy), which was about to pass efficient anti-terrorist laws. It targets the economy, democracy, and the nation as a whole" (19/03/2015)

Le Soir - Belgium

Travel destination between democracy and jihad

The attack in Tunis will above all have a disastrous impact on the country's tourism, the liberal daily Le Soir believes: "This comes as a huge blow to the relative optimism with which many viewed the country and its inhabitants. It brings to mind the fact that while Tunisia is the most democratic country in the Arab world, it is also the country of origin of the greatest number of jihadists who join the sinister Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. According to official sources, around 500 of them have now returned from the Middle East. Democracy and jihadism in one country: an incredible paradox. This new ordeal will be difficult to overcome. Tourists will no doubt give the country a wide berth. And they constitute one of its main sources of revenue. More than ever, Tunisia and the Tunisians need our solidarity." (18/03/2015)

Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland

End of the Arab Spring

The Arab Spring died along with the victims of the terrorist attack in Tunis, the daily Tages-Anzeiger comments, aghast: "The shootings in front of parliament and the hostage-taking at Bardo National Museum represent a disaster of untold proportions for the country and its people. The government won't be able to bring terrorism under control overnight - whereas the international tourism industry will react immediately. ... Now it is clear to everyone that the so-called Arab Spring has failed, and that the region will remain unstable for years to come. Without a clear assessment of the risks, Tunisia and the surrounding countries have become unsuitable as holiday destinations, political partners and potential locations for investment. The advance of democracy in the Middle East and Northern Africa which was so hoped for - and seemingly realistic - in 2011 will certainly not take place in the foreseeable future." (19/03/2015)

The Daily Telegraph - United Kingdom

Terror strengthens secular forces

With attacks like the one in Tunis Islamists lose support among the local populations and therefore ultimately strengthen secular forces, the conserve Daily Telegraph argues: "Killing nineteen innocent people might serve Isil's purpose of trying to frighten away Tunisia's tourist trade. But such murders seem to disgust all sections of Tunisian society. They may well reinforce the strong, secular forces which came back to power in last year's elections. The new Prime Minister had been Interior Minister under the old order ousted in 2011. Then the regime lacked public support for its crackdowns on Islamic groups. Now, it looks as though Isil will provoke a popular backlash against radical Islamists." (18/03/2015)


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La Repubblica - Italy

Two-state solution not an option anymore

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party has won the parliamentary elections in Israel and will form a conservative-religious government. For the left-liberal daily La Repubblica that puts an end to any hopes of a two-state solution: "Within just a few hours all hope for a new dynamic in the Middle East conflict disappeared. After almost fifty years of missed opportunities since the Six-Day War in 1967, the idea of a two-state solution has definitively failed. ... It has become lost in the void created by a democratic vote. That is the price of Benjamin Netanyahu's victory. In a surprise move, he snatched victory with an energy and dexterity that few politicians possess." (19/03/2015)

Capital - Greece

Greece mustn't become a Putin protectorate

According to media reports a meeting in Moscow between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Russian President Vladimir Putin planned for May 8, the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, is to be brought forward a month and take place on April 8 instead. The liberal web portal Capital voices disappointment at the new government's policies: "The government should change direction before it's too late. The Greek people didn't elect it for it to transform the country into one of Vladimir Putin's protectorates. The government bears a great responsibility towards the Greek people and history. It has not received the people's permission to make the nightmare of the drachma a reality and distribute food vouchers. The Greeks didn't elect it for it to push us onto Europe's sidelines." (18/03/2015)

Trouw - Netherlands

Dutch weren't out to punish government

The grand coalition in the Netherlands suffered heavy losses in provincial elections on Wednesday and together with its former coalition partner no longer has a majority in the first chamber of the Dutch parliament, the Senate. But the Christian social daily Trouw doesn't see the results as a case of the voters punishing the government: "The political situation has become more complex, but certainly not hopeless. Prime Minister Rutte will have to seek majorities for his plans even more than in the past two years. This reinforces parliament's role, and after the crippling dictatorship of coalitions over the last few decades this is a blessing. The outcome is difficult to interpret, but we certainly can't conclude that the population is punishing the government for its policies. ... The results show that on the whole the parties on the populist fringes haven't been able to make significant gains." (19/03/2015)

Blog Adevărul - Romania

EU democracy weaker than authoritarian Moscow

EU leaders meet today in Brussels to decide on the sanctions against Russia. The lack of consensus will once again prevent a strong stance vis-à-vis Moscow, Brussels correspondent Cristian Unteanu comments on the blog of the liberal-conservative daily Adevărul: "Should the pressure on Russia to implement the Minsk agreement continue unabated or will prolonging the sanctions only worsen the current climate? ... How should Europe react, whose 28 countries defend their own national values before all others? ... This is the key to the problem. ... Russia has a simple approach to the democratic system problem - all decision-making power is concentrated in a single institution led by Vladimir Putin. This imbalance [between Russia and the EU] represents the biggest threat in this moment so charged with tensions and pregnant with unknown quantities." (18/03/2015)

Blog Törökgáborelemez - Hungary

Orbán was an informer? So what?

Lajos Simicska, a former colleague and friend of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, has voiced allegations that Orbán acted as an informant for the Hungarian security service during the socialist era. Even if it's true it would just make Orbán a victim of the system, political scientist Gábor Török writes in his blog Törökgáborelemez: "Let's assume that during his military service he did work for the security apparatus. So? ... Viktor Orbán is one of the most outstanding figures since the fall of communism. His anti-communist stance and his political courage are undisputed when you look at the years 1988/89. ... If the state security really did recruit the 19-year-old Orbán, that doesn't mean he was necessarily a beneficiary of the communist system. Rather, the fact that he had no choice but to do his job points more to him being a victim of the communist dictatorship. And we know that later he rejected any advances by the security apparatus." (18/03/2015)


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Phileleftheros - Cyprus

Xenia Tourki explains reasons for Iceland's rejection

Iceland officially withdrew its candidacy for EU membership last week. Columnist Xenia Tourki explains the reasons for this decision in the liberal daily Phileleftheros: "The European Union still hasn't overcome the crisis. Despite the positive indicators unemployment is high in many countries. Living standards have fallen and everything points to the insecurity over Greece in the Eurozone continuing for some time to come. Why should a country take the risk of becoming a member of a union so fraught with problems? ... The Icelanders' decision shows that the EU has lost its appeal among the people of Europe. The reason is simple: the EU has set aside the values and ideals it was built on. Decisions are taken behind closed doors through bureaucratic procedures. The people no longer count any more; figures take priority. The EU has trampled on its own values and this is why it has lost its charm." (18/03/2015)


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Handelsblatt - Germany

Opel's withdrawal from Russia sensible

German car manufacturer Opel plans to pull out of the Russian market by the end of the year, its US parent company GM announced on Wednesday. This is a radical but justified move, the liberal business daily Handelsblatt surmises: "The conflict with the West has hit the Russian car market hard, halving sales. The weak rouble is pushing up the costs of Opel's plans to expand its production in Russia. After all the GM subsidiary has to import more than half of its components. ... At [the German Opel headquarters] in Rüsselsheim the managers don't believe the situation in Russia will improve any time soon. This made the probability of more millions in losses simply too high. ... Unlike its rivals Opel simply doesn't have the money to buy itself more time on the Russian market." (19/03/2015)


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Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

The ECB also to blame for riots

Violent protests accompanied the inauguration of the new ECB headquarters in Frankfurt on Wednesday. The anger against the European Central Bank is to some extent justified, the liberal-conservative Neue Zürcher Zeitung observes: "The ECB is very confident about its power. Its president Mario Draghi has promised that he will do enough to keep all the crisis countries in the Eurozone. In Frankfurt, consultations are taking place behind close doors about whether to cut off the credit supply for banks in order to force over-indebted Greece into insolvency. On far too many political issues the key player is the ECB, which is supposed to be independent and unpolitical. ... So it comes as no big surprise when accusations that the central bank is politicised grow louder. The inconsistent construction of the monetary union is increasingly making it a divisive force rather than a peace-promoting integration project." (19/03/2015)

Večernji list - Croatia

Frankfurt riots demonstrate failure of left

The riots that marked the inauguration of the ECB's new headquarters in Frankfurt are proof that the European left is on its last legs, the conservative daily Večernji List gloats: "The images of Frankfurt burning will no doubt lead some to imagine that we are on the brink of a European revolution. But they're just a flash in the pan. Because on the contrary, the repeated violent protests by the left only show that everything is as it should be. Because violence and Molotov cocktails have never been an expression of strength, but only of weakness and hopelessness and a lack of ideas on the European left. ... The protesters want to show their solidarity with the people of Greece and its radical leadership, they say. The Greek revolutionary government is stuck, and these demonstrators are only showing that the entire European left is in the grips of a revolutionary anti-climax. And that too is just as it should be." (19/03/2015)

Zaman - Turkey

German headscarf ruling exemplary

The German Constitutional Court's ruling last week that teachers may wear headscarves is exemplary for religious freedom, the Islamic-conservative daily Zaman comments: "Nowadays in Germany the headscarf is just as much an everyday symbol of belief as the cross. ... According to the constitution the state is obliged to guarantee religious freedom and the practice of religion for its citizens. To fulfil this obligation the state must regard all religions with the same neutrality. ... These conditions in non-secular Germany call into question the purportedly secular Turkey. As we know, secular Turkey is not neutral. The state ignores other religions and even marginalises them. ... Because the courts in Germany are sensitive in their interpretation of basic rights the kind of despotism we see in Turkey is virtually impossible." (19/03/2015)


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Fakt - Poland

Suit and tie suits John Paul II

The Polish Centre for Thought of John Paul II started an advertising campaign on Monday with images of the former pope dressed in a suit and looking as if he were running for president. The TV journalist Monika Olejnik praises the poster in a commentary for the conservative tabloid Fakt: "John Paul II is no different in this campaign from the pope he was in the past. There would only be cause for controversy if he were wearing a Dolce & Gabbana suit. But he's not. Nor do I have the impression that this image has offended anyone. He seems to be standing on a pedestal. And what's so bad about that? The people who created the image were no doubt trying to ask if we bring his teachings to bear in our daily lives. In that case I prefer an image like this to the ugly memorials you see so often in Poland." (19/03/2015)

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