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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 24/03/2015

 

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Merkel and Tsipras seek conciliation

Merkel stressed that the Euro Group, and not Germany, will decide on bailout payments for Greece. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel adopted a conciliatory tone in Berlin on Monday, after politicians and media in both countries repeatedly attacked each other in recent weeks. Finally Tsipras has realised that he needs Merkel, some commentators write in delight. Others counter that the new soft-line approach won't save Greece from bankruptcy.

El Periódico de Catalunya - Spain

Tsipras realises that he needs Merkel

Tsipras has finally realised that he can't make any major leaps without the good will of his European colleagues, the left-liberal daily El Periódico de Catalunya writes in delight: "Two months after its election victory and the kind of behaviour that hasn't made it very popular with the European institutions, the Greek government has realised that it needs to mend fences with the German chancellor. Otherwise the meeting with the other EU heads of government will turn into a minefield for Athens. In this respect yesterday's meeting should be seen more as a PR campaign. The decisions fall within the remit of the Euro Group. It was about building bridges between those who really have the power in Europe and those who really need the support from the powerful to stand up to other members - like Spain or Portugal - who regard any kind of concession to Greece with great distrust." (24/03/2015)

Mladá fronta dnes - Czech Republic

Reconciliation with Berlin not enough

Alexis Tsipris has finally sought a rapprochement with Berlin but the problems Athens faces are far from solved, the liberal daily Mladá fronta Dnes comments: "During the crisis Germany was seen by many Greeks as the symbol of everything evil, with Merkel and her ministers personifying Satan. That also explains why Tsipras took two whole months to prepare his trip to Berlin, although Germany plays the key role in saving Athens from bankruptcy. Then yesterday night the two smiled as if Greece and Germany were the best of friends. ... However despite the optimistic mood after the negotiations with Merkel, Tsipras and his country are by no means out of the woods. All the Eurozone states - many of which are far tougher in their stance than the German chancellor - have been clear about the fact that they are unwilling to give Athens any more money if it fails to present a suitable reform plan. If you believe the analysts, bankruptcy could come as early as April 8." (24/03/2015)

Kurier - Austria

Germany the wrong scapegoat

It's wrong of the Greek government to heap blame on the Germans for their economic power, the daily Kurier writes and calls for more honesty on Tsipras's part: "He should finally come out and say that Greece would be much worse off without the solidarity of the EU member states. Whereby it's questionable whether he would survive explaining this truth to his multi-layered left-wing party. We in Europe are now seeing that 70 years is a relatively short period in the history of nations. Greeks who lived under the Nazi terror are still alive today. But they too must acknowledge that all the German governments since the war have stood for a European Germany, not a German Europe. However while the low interest rates have led to a ridiculous level of over-indebtedness in Greece the Germans have built up their export surplus with innovative products." (24/03/2015)

Dagens Nyheter - Sweden

Tsipras must prevent Grexit

After his visit to Berlin Tsipras must show that he wants to change things in Greece if he wants to avoid a Grexit, the daily Dagens Nyheter warns: "The euro can withstand a Greek exit. Firewalls have been set up and private investors have for the most part left the playing field. ... Politically, however, a Grexit would be a huge blow to Europe. Even if no other country followed in Greece's footsteps, it would show that leaving the Eurozone is an option. Many Greeks would feel betrayed. And the risk is high that in abandoning the euro the country could change its course and move closer to Russia, for example. ... Tsipras isn't the only politician who must show respect for his voters; Merkel must also respect hers. The majority of Greeks want to keep the euro, according to the polls. A majority of Germans, by contrast, no longer want the Greeks in the Eurozone. If Tsipras and Syriza continue as they have done so far they will lead their country straight to a Grexit." (24/03/2015)

POLITICS

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Savon Sanomat - Finland

Front National sidelined after Charlie Hebdo

The far-right Front National achieved a good 25 percent of the vote in France's departmental elections on Sunday. But despite securing its best results so far, the FN failed to live up to forecasts. For the liberal daily Savon Sanomat, the party's rise has been halted by the spirit of public solidarity following the attack on Charlie Hebdo: "The far right may well have reached the height of its popular support in France. Two months have gone by since the attack on the weekly Charlie Hebdo, and terrorism experts believe that further attacks are likely. However the Islamist threat has not directly boosted the popularity of the Front National. After the attack the far right lost its monopoly on criticism of extremist tendencies in Islam. The example of France shows that an open discussion of immigration, faith and the freedom of opinion can slow the rise of the far right." (24/03/2015)

Le Figaro - France

Only Front National tells people the truth

The Front National is so popular because it doesn't gloss over the truth, the conservative daily Le Figaro explains: "The rise of the FN is due neither to its programme nor to the talent of its leaders, but to the common sense it displays while the people are being called on to act as if they were living in a fictitious universe. The FN is a party that dares to say that the emperor has no clothes on. For so long we have been living in an enchanted kingdom where the facts are hidden and unpleasant data is hushed up.In today's France the rift between the elites and the people focuses on the question of reality. It is striking to see that the programmes of the established parties on the left and on the right focus almost exclusively on stopping the FN from gaining power. French political life is completely caught up with this goal, to the astonishment - and the annoyance - of the people who encounter far more important problems in their daily lives." (24/03/2015)

Jornal de Negócios - Portugal

Europe's ignorance of North Africa aids IS

The attack on the national museum in the Tunisian capital has made it clear that the IS is trying to extend its zone of influence. Unfortunately Europe is not really interested in North Africa, the liberal daily Jornal de Negócios complains: "This could perhaps change if we consider that no other capital lies closer to Lisbon than Rabat and that Libya is just a stone's throw from Italy. … The fact that it has extended its front to Tunis shows that the IS is intent on spreading the chaos all the way along Africa's Mediterranean coast. The election of Beji Caid Essebsi in November, who pledged to fight hard against the radicals and liberalise the economy, inspires new hope. Now we will see whether oblivious Europe lets deeds follow words: either it supports the government politically and economically or Tunisia becomes the perfect stage for the IS." (23/03/2015)

Sözcü - Turkey

Turkish government crumbling

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arinç on Saturday accused President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of interfering in government business. This prompted Melih Gökçek, the mayor of Ankara, to call on Monday for Arinç's resignation, whereupon Arinç accused Gökçek of being corrupt and ill-bred. The carefree times are over for the AKP, writes the daily Sözcü, which is critical of the government: "They were all intoxicated with the power of being in government. The used up all the possibilities and the money of the state and the people until there was nothing left. … The economy is in a pitiful state. The unemployment rate is at eleven percent. Everyone is in debt. … All classes are suffering, but because of the dictatorial system no one speaks out. … Don't believe Arinç is criticising for nothing. He is starting to sing like a nightingale because this is his third and final term of office in the party. But he sings in the name of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu!" (24/03/2015)

Duma - Bulgaria

Europe denies its history on May 9

The European heads of state and government who refuse to take part in the celebrations marking the end of World War II on May 9 in Moscow are blind in one eye, the pro-Russian daily Duma rails: "Try as they might to deny history or distort the facts, they can't erase them from the minds of the European people. Because the people know full well that without the Soviet Army they would neither be celebrating Europe Day nor singing the Ode to Joy in Brussels today. And as far as President Plevneliev is concerned, we must be indulgent. The poor man is so dependent on foreign powers that he'll do anything he can to suck up to them. But the Russians aren't impressed by things like that because they can distinguish between our venal politicians and the Bulgarian people whose sympathy for Russia is beyond doubt." (24/03/2015)

Lietuvos žinios - Lithuania

Putin denies Ukrainian nation

On the first anniversary of the annexation of Crimea last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that Russians and Ukrainians belonged to 'one nation'. The statement sends shivers down the spine of political scientist Alvydas Medalinskas in the conservative daily Lietuvos žinios: "Unfortunately history has already seen a case of a despot denying another nation's right to exist. ... Last year's annexation of Crimea and Moscow's threats against Ukraine are very reminiscent of the annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland. ... Everything started with the annexation of Austria. Hitler announced that the two neighbouring countries were in fact one nation. He didn't believe in the existence of the Austrian people, holding that the Austrians were part of the Germanic nation. Now Putin has announced that there is no such thing as the Ukrainian nation. Just two branches of the same Slavic nation." (24/03/2015)

REFLECTIONS

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Večernji list - Croatia

Jozo Pavković on the incomplete peace of Dayton

Twenty years ago the Dayton Accords ended the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. But the country was not built on stable foundations, Jozo Pavković criticises in the conservative daily Večernji List and calls for the renewal of the agreement: "This agreement brought an incomplete peace and a complicated state system that has put Bosnia in a straitjacket. The Dayton Accords included eleven annexes, the fourth of which is at the same time Bosnia's constitution. But the English original text of the agreement was never officially translated - meaning that the country's constitution wasn't either. Added to this is the alarming fact that the original has been lost in the meantime. … For this reason the American document must be replaced with a European one to lay the foundations for lasting peace. The Europeanisation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the country joining the EU should correct several of the Dayton Accords' mistakes. But just a few months after the initiative [by the foreign ministers of the UK and Germany in November 2014] started the resistance in Bosnia and Herzegovina shows that once again it is easier to create an idea than to put it into practice." (24/03/2015)

ECONOMY

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Avvenire - Italy

Italy must make best of China's spending spree

China's biggest chemicals group Chem-China is taking the helm at Italy's long-established tire manufacturer Pirelli. Chem-China, which is state-owned, bought 26.2 percent of the shares in the Italian company on Monday. Italy must make the best of the wave of foreign investments, the Catholic daily Avvenire warns: "After the lean years a good deal of dollars, yuan and yen are flowing into Italian companies once more. And after all, making Italy attractive again was a declared goal of the government. … Without this money many of the companies in Europe's second-largest industrial nation wouldn't be able to grow or compete on the global market. So it would be rash to start erecting protectionist barriers now. But for the foreign funds to bear fruit in Italy investments must be made in infrastructure, starting with expanding the fibreglass network. Here the state must not be content to simply pull in money from the global market but must make its own investments." (24/03/2015)

MEDIA

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Handelsblatt - Germany

User comments should be scrapped

The opinions on the Ukraine conflict gathered in representative surveys in Germany and the user comments posted on online media diverge widely, a study by the Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research reveals. According to the study online commentators show more sympathy for Russia. The media should deactivate their commentary functions, the liberal business daily Handelsblatt demands, arguing that the difference in opinions "confirms the widely held suspicion among experts that online discussions are used far more intensively by people who feel directly affected, have a stronger sense of mission and a lot of time on their hands. In the case of Russia an additional component may play a role: 'information operations'. The Russian military is notorious for setting great store by propaganda and using it intensively. … What we see in online commentaries is therefore not free and democratic discourse. … If it is primarily radicals, lunatics and foreign powers who adjust articles to their own perceptions, we can do without such commentaries." (23/03/2015)

Gândul - Romania

The evil of paid commentaries in Romania

For years Romanian parties have been paying people to flood websites with commentaries. Former minister Elena Udrea of the liberal-conservativee PMP admitted this in the course of corruption investigations against her. The online paper Gândul is not surprised at this confession: "This explains yet again how people's images are built up on the Internet. We're caught in a kind of Stone Age of political lobbyism in which intellectual rowdys bash you on the head as soon as you criticise their ruler. These invisible people are either students trying to earn a little extra cash, young 'politicians in training' or impoverished civil servants and pensioners who would do anything for money. All the parties have trained and built up such reliable hack writers so they can rush in like a rescue team and help them and their party leaders out when they're in trouble." (24/03/2015)

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