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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 20/03/2015

 

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Athens under time pressure

A bleak outlook: according to media reports, funds in the Greek treasury will only last until the start of April. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

After meeting with top EU representatives on Thursday, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has committed himself to introducing concrete reform measures in the coming days. Once this happens Athens is to receive further financial aid. That does nothing to change the fact that the Eurozone is dysfunctional, commentators criticise, and warn that Greece's fate must not be left in the hands of Russia and China.

Die Welt - Germany

Only a quiet revolution can save Eurozone

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Thursday for a combination of solidarity on the part of the EU states and effort on Greece's part in order to end the crisis. But that won' be enough, the conservative daily Die Welt warns: "If the Eurozone is to have a future it must be rebuilt fast - and taken in the direction of a joint budget and economic policy with a single finance minister. That would be the end the sovereign state in the conventional sense. It would border on an act of impertinence: a silent revolution. ... The gruelling first steps now being taken toward a Greek bailout should not blind us to far greater concerns: France and Italy. To discipline these two countries suffering from chronic structural weakness and exorbitantly high public debt in time, the heads of government require other instruments than a stability pact full of elastic clauses. They need a Europe that works." (20/03/2015)

Blog Alan Friedman - Italy

Put an end to the Greek farce

Greece has overstepped the mark in recent weeks, Alan Friedman writes on his blog: "Athens could have received more aid from Berlin and Brussels if it hadn't resorted to verbal terrorism and endless senseless threats. Who seriously believes that threatening to send jihadists and terrorists to Germany will help it get more money from Europe? Or that it will benefit Greece's position in the Euro Group to constantly bring up the subject of the Nazis and demand that its debts be written off in compensation for the German occupation of Greece 70 years ago? Instead of this cheap comedy on Athens' part, we need serious negotiations between Greece, the troika and the Euro Group: on further reforms, the form and extent of potential debt relief and the question of how much more money Europe and the International Monetary Fund can give - and for how long." (20/03/2015)

Blog Adevărul - Romania

Saving Athens costly, but a Grexit even more so

The summit has highlighted the dilemma the EU leaders face, Brussels correspondent Cristian Unteanu comments on the blog of the liberal-conservative daily Adevărul: "The solution is either to break the vicious circle now or to bear the situation politically. Put in non-politically correct terms, we must decide whether we Europeans want to pay even though we know that we'll lose out financially but would at least keep Greece in the system. Or do we refuse to pay and let other players take our place: first of all the Russians, then China and a few Arab states. ... Tsipras knows very well that a Grexit would be a terrible blow to the European project and its credibility. Particularly now that Europe is under pressure from Russia and trying to find a formula for harmonising its domestic markets. Consequently that means finding a solution to save its credibility." (19/03/2015)

POLITICS

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De Morgen - Belgium

Now's the time for a holiday in Tunesia

After the terrorist attack on Bardo National Museum in Tunis the West must show solidarity with the country, the left-liberal daily De Morgen demands: "Tunisia was well on the way to becoming a real alternative to radical jihadism: proof that the Arab world, Islam and democracy are not mutually exclusive. The worst thing the West could do now would be to lose its courage and leave the poor countries in the lurch. On the contrary: now is the time to send a strong message of solidarity. After Je suis Charlie we need Je suis Bardo. ... Turning away now - for example by choosing a different holiday destination - is perhaps an understandable emotional reflex, but it is no solution. ... Nothing stopped us from travelling en masse to Brussels, Paris or Copenhagen after the attacks there. If we do that now with Tunis and sever our ties with the Arab world, the IS fanatics will really have won." (20/03/2015)

Libération - France

Front National benefits from identity crisis

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has criticised the passivity of leftist intellectuals in the run-up to the first round of the departmental elections scheduled to take place on Sunday. But the country's intellectuals aren't the only ones to blame for the rise of the far right, the left-liberal daily Libération counters: "Globalisation, European construction and immigration have spread fears of a loss of identity across the entire continent. ... Can the intellectuals be accused of not having done enough to help us grasp this reality? While some condemn any reference to national identity as a modern version of the ideology of Nazi collaborator Marshal Pétain, others more or less covertly try to reject Europe and re-establish national borders in a bid to fight the FN on its own ground. What will become of republican France with regard to Europe and globalisation? That is the question. Without an answer we leave ourselves wide open to attack." (19/03/2015)

Expressen - Sweden

EU must admonish medieval Saudi Arabia

Saudi-Swedish relations continue to deteriorate in the debate over human rights. After Sweden's halt to military cooperation last week, the Gulf State has now recalled its ambassador from Stockholm. The liberal tabloid Expressen calls for more support from Europe: "Sweden can rightly expect a tough diplomatic signal from the EU in the context of the solidarity clause of the Treaty of Lisbon. The fact that Saudi Arabia is recalling its diplomatic personnel is also not a bilateral issue. The serious - and medieval - violations of human rights in Saudi Arabia contradict the basic values of the EU. The heads of state and government should be able to agree on that at the ongoing EU summit. We expect a clear statement from Brussels." (20/03/2015)

Agos - Turkey

Erdoğan being evasive on peace process

On Saturday the Kurdish new year holiday Newroz, on which two years ago the peace process with the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) began, will be celebrated in Turkey. At the same time President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan explained on Sunday that there was no problem with the Kurds. This is a tactic aimed at pacifying voters, the weekly of the Armenian minority Agos comments: "If we look back, the ruling party has always used camouflage tactics before taking a step that could be interpreted as a concession. ... But for peace a cornerstone must be laid among the people, the roots for this peace must be sought among them. And if this doesn't work it's very easy to turn back and the peace will become very fragile once more, no matter what those in power decide. Erdoğan's statements are not at all helpful; on the contrary, they set the stage for an abandonment of the peace process. ... But perhaps that's precisely what Erdoğan wants." (20/03/2015)

hvg - Hungary

Jobbik exploiting Hungarians' anger

The far-right Jobbik party is gaining ground in Hungary. Polls put the party's support at 18 percent, just three percentage points behind ruling party Fidesz. Jobbik is benefiting to no small degree from the anger of Hungarians who see themselves as servants of the West, philosopher Gáspár Miklós Tamás writes in the left-liberal weekly Heti Világgazdaság: "Jobbik is the only 'national' party that is authentic, or in other words, its politics aren't tied in with the despised West. ... The only guarantee for the competitiveness of our home country is the low wages of the Hungarian workforce. ... So we have become a nation of servants like our Eastern European fellow sufferers. ... The anger about this servitude is the secret behind Jobbik's success. The party probably doesn't even want to eliminate the many reasons for this anger. All it cares about is that its rhetoric strikes a chord with the soul of the Hungarian people." (19/03/2015)

REFLECTIONS

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El País - Spain

Olivia Muñoz-Rojas on Yanis Varoufakis's sexiness

If Greece's Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis was a woman the media wouldn't be hailing her as a new sex icon, sociologist Olivia Muñoz-Rojas writes in the left-liberal daily El País: "Varoufakis is not the only politician being described as sexy in the media lately. In fact to judge by the media there's an abundance of attractive men in European politics at the moment, especially in the south of the continent: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, and in Spain the secretary-general of the Spanish Socialist Worker's Party Pedro Sánchez are just a few examples. ... According to the theories put forward by Catherine Hakim [author of The Power of Erotic Capital], a change of generations is not the only explanation for this phenomenon. This raises other interesting questions about the distribution of erotic capital between men and women: is there a comparable number of women in significant roles in politics who stand out for their physical attractiveness? Is there a greater sense of restraint about describing them as sexy? In other words: what would the reaction to the headlines have been if Varoufakis was a woman?" (20/03/2015)

ECONOMY

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Der Standard - Austria

EU and Bern leave loophole for tax dodgers

EU citizens are no longer protected by Swiss banking secrecy, the EU Commission and Bern announced on Thursday. The banks will gather the respective data and make it accessible to EU finance ministers from 2018. The left-liberal daily Der Standard sees a flaw in the agreement: "This agreement will advance the international fight against tax evasion in the long term. After all the Swiss tax haven is drying up. But the big catch is that the agreement opens up another gigantic loophole. The Swiss credit institutes won't start gather data until 2017 and only exchange it in 2018. This means tax dodgers still have 18 months to move their undeclared assets to somewhere safe." (20/03/2015)

Neatkarīgā - Latvia

Latvia heading for disaster

The statistical yearbook for 2014 has come out in Latvia. Unfortunately the richly illustrated book simply documents the country's downfall, the national-conservative daily Neatkarīgā complains: "The figures show a decline on almost every page: a drop in voter turnout, GDP, population statistics and the number of marriages. The number of students per 10,000 inhabitants is falling steadily, and the volume of agricultural production is decreasing. By contrast prices, the average age at which people get married, hospital stays and the number of deaths due to malignant tumours are all on the rise. People with weak nerves should not look at the age pyramid, because after the real estate bubble burst the birthrate decreased more dramatically than during either of the two world wars of the last century. The prospects for the future are dire indeed. All we need to do now is wait for total disaster in the statistical yearbook for 2035." (19/03/2015)

MEDIA

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Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland

Middle finger a symptom of overstress

Since Sunday the German media have been discussing a video showing Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis supposedly holding up his middle finger to Germany. For the daily Tages-Anzeiger the debate exemplifies what's wrong with the media: "When someone like Günther Jauch, the host of a show aired by a public broadcaster, reduces a highly complex set of arguments to one middle finger, it's tragic proof for how far the degeneration of the media has come. Jauch is a symbol for the fact that we are having a hard time dealing with events as they unfold. The crisis in Greece is complex and unclear. It's about debt, dependence, long-time relations, individual and collective destinies, and a country on the brink of disaster. But instead of seriously examining the causes of and possible solutions to this crisis, even quality journalists are appealing to the simplest reflex mechanism: popular outrage." (20/03/2015)

Blog Pitsirikos - Greece

German media disgraced by middle-finger fake

The chief editor of the German TV show Günther Jauch admitted via Twitter on Thursday that a video showing Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis making the middle-finger gesture was taken out of context. Blogger Pitsirikos criticises the debate over the video: "The stance of many German and Greek media outlets regarding Varoufakis proves that many mass media no longer have anything to do with information and the truth but are acting as representatives for governments. ... Jan Böhmermann's ingenious admission that he doctored the video has caused even more embarrassment for the mainstream media in Germany because they all believed it. The presenter of a satirical show has mocked both the German journalists and his own countrymen with the words: 'That's us Germans for you. We ravaged Europe twice within a century but when someone shows us the middle finger we totally flip out'." (19/03/2015)

Jyllands-Posten - Denmark

Muhammad cartoons honoured

The journalist Flemming Rose has won this year's Publicistpris. In 2005, as Jyllands Posten's cultural editor, he commissioned the Muhammad cartoons. The liberal-conservative daily writes that Rose, who is now the paper's foreign affairs editor, fully deserved to win Denmark's most prestigious press freedom prize: "The prize is a well deserved honuor for Flemming Rose and his enduring journalistic commitment to protecting freedom of expression. ... The noblest goal of freedom of the press and expression is to challenge those in power, authorities and social taboos. ... The prerequisite for this is tolerance and acceptance of the fact that in a democracy there can be no guarantee that those things one cherishes won't be offended. Our newspaper and above all Flemming Rose are well aware that the fight for this stance has serious consequences." (20/03/2015)

LOCAL COLOURS

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Standart - Bulgaria

Forced holiday on Black Sea a silly idea

Bulgaria's tourism industry fears an extremely weak summer season on its Black Sea coast this year. On the one hand fewer Russian tourists are expected, while on the other a growing number of Bulgarians are turning their backs on local resorts. Tourism associations have now proposed that the equivalent of 30 euros per month be docked from salaries and paid out in the form of hotel vouchers. The daily Standart is not keen on the idea: "It's unacceptable for us to be marched to the beach en masse. Those resorts that haven't been completely built up and that offer quality services for a good price will not remain empty this year either. Workers who can't afford to go on holiday will hardly be delighted to earn 30 euros less per month so they can take a break. And those who can prefer to go abroad. The only ones who stand to profit from the measure are the bad hotels that can't attract guests in any other way." (20/03/2015)

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