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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 08/04/2015

 

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Berlin doesn't want to compensate Athens

German Economy Minister Gabriel called the debate over reparations payments "stupid". (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

The German government on Tuesday again rejected Greece's demands for reparations. Athens puts the sum for World War II reparations from Germany at 278.7 billion euros. In view of the crimes committed during German occupation the debate can't simply be declared over and done with, some commentators fume. Others criticise Greece's negotiation tactics, which rely purely on confrontation.

Dennik N - Slovakia

Athens plays its last trumps

The Greek demands for German reparations for crimes committed during the Second World War and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's trip to Moscow today, Wednesday, have one point in common, the daily Dennik N believes: "Both are part of the negotiation tactics vis-à-vis Brussels, Berlin and the Western creditors. Athens wants to show that it's still got a trump in its hand and can exert pressure when it wants to, along the lines: If Berlin refuses to meet us half way, we'll at least burden it with international opprobrium. And if the West is unwilling to continue giving us money without guarantees, well then we'll get it from the big brother to the east. The reparations demands and the Moscow trip are meant to fire the Greeks' rebellious spirit - at least among Tsipras's voters - and make it easier for them to get used to their none-too-bright prospects for the future: either they leave the Eurozone, or they do what the creditors demand. At least in this way they will have fought to the last breath and taken revenge on their enemies." (08/04/2015)

El País - Spain

Tsipras using wrong tactic

Greece has now named concrete figures in the dispute over German reparation payments. The amount mentioned and the timing, right in the middle of the debate over a new bailout package, couldn't be more unfavourable, the left-liberal daily El País comments in annoyance: "As if the debate wasn't already difficult enough. Now it's almost impossible. ... It's clear that this is a political manoeuvre. Alexis Tsipras's government is relying on confrontation - specifically with Germany - as a negotiating tactic. But it won't get far. Greece is ignoring the fact that today's Germany has nothing in common with the Germany of the 1940s. It is ignoring the fact that the EU's fundamental principles are based on reconciliation and oppose the resurrection of old hostilities. It is biting the hand that feeds it." (08/04/2015)

Basler Zeitung - Switzerland

Reparations delay end of Eurozone

The German government could give in to the Greek demands for reparation at least partially in a bid to save the single currency, the right-wing conservative daily Basler Zeitung points out: "The German government has rejected payment of compensation to Greece for the time being. But not everyone in Berlin sees things that way. ... To forestall the end of the Eurozone in its current form, the German government could soon be forced to transfer further billions to Greece. The recognition of the reparation demands could provide a welcome pretext to justify such payments vis-à-vis the German public and make noble speeches about historical responsibility. In reality, however, it would be about keeping a dysfunctional single currency on artificial life support." (08/04/2015)

Frankfurter Rundschau - Germany

Arrogant German stance is idiotic

Germany's Minister of Economic Affairs, Sigmar Gabriel, described Greece's demands for reparations as "stupid" on Tuesday. He's oversimplifying the situation, finds the left-liberal daily Frankfurter Rundschau: "Germany's 'lord of the manner' stance in simply declaring a glaring conflict as settled is not acceptable in view of the crimes on which the demands are based. ... Even after the 1990 Two Plus Four Agreement, Germany, which had supposedly settled all post-war demands, has reached special agreements on compensation for Nazi crimes, for example in the form of foundations for forced labourers. Why not seek a similar foundation model for Greece? Factually the current demands being made of Greece have nothing to do with Greece's historical demands directed at the occupying power Germany. They can't be balanced against each other fiscally. But the moral question deserves a different answer." (08/04/2015)

POLITICS

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The Guardian - United Kingdom

Blair right to criticise Cameron's EU policy

The former British prime minister Tony Blair joined the fray in the British election campaign on Tuesday with a plea in favour of the EU. The left-liberal daily The Guardian endorses Blair's criticism of the EU policy of Britain's current leader David Cameron: "Mr Blair was right to raise the EU issue and right to argue for its importance. Above all, he was right to defend Europe and to draw attention to the potential for chaos and recession in the UK if Britain were to leave the EU. What Mr Blair called 'a pall of unpredictability' would hang over the UK economy, the country's international relations and, not least, the continuing existence of the UK itself. Our country would be undertaking a historic retreat from reality in pursuit of a fantasy with destabilising consequences at home and abroad." (07/04/2015)

The Jerusalem Post - Israel

Global perspectives: Iran not a reliable partner for nuclear deal

US President Barack Obama rejected on Monday Israel's demand that a definitive nuclear agreement with Iran be made contingent on Tehran recognising Israel's right to exist. The basic features of the planned treaty only confirm the sceptics' point of view, the liberal-conservative daily The Jerusalem Post sighs: "Iran's nuclear infrastructure will remain intact, though some of it may be mothballed for 10 years. When that period ends, the Islamic Republic could instantly become a threshold nuclear state. ... Ultimately, a nuclear deal with Iran, like any deal, relies on the good intentions of both sides. An expansionist Islamic Republic that is actively involved in nearly every military conflict in the region and that publicly calls for the destruction of Israel is hardly a reliable partner. The skeptics have every reason to remain skeptical." (06/04/2015)

Le Soir - Belgium

French conservatives more democratic now

France's conservative opposition party UMP will hold an internal vote in the autumn of 2016 to choose the candidate for the presidential elections the following year. The victorious candidate must then resign from all his party functions, party chairman and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy announced on Tuesday. The liberal daily Le Soir finds the news encouraging: "This 'election before the election' could be a true model for democracy. That's what happened with the Socialist Party. While a growing number of elections were marked by abstentions, its internal vote fired everyone's imagination. ... Above all, voters got involved and had their own favourite candidates. The investiture was no longer just an internal party affair. Let's hope that's how things work in the conservative camp as well. The rules of the game are clear, and - on paper at least - impartial. It's up to each candidate to accept them - and the result." (08/04/2015)

La Repubblica - Italy

Not even Palestinian question sacred for IS

Around 2,000 people have fled the fighting at the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in the south of the Syrian capital Damascus. A week ago the terrorist militia Islamic State stormed the camp. Unicef is talking of a second Srebrenica. The IS will go to any lengths to achieve its goals, the left-liberal daily La Repubblica writes, agreeing with the UN organisation: "The executioners know only too well the symbolic meaning of Yarmouk. Over half a century the camp has turned into a veritable city, the capital of the Palestinian diaspora. ... If the Palestinians don't join the jihadists' campaign of conquest of their own free will, their role as the symbolic people of the West's violent attacks against Muslims will also be demolished. This martyred people is no longer needed to unite the Muslims. Because the apocalyptic age of global Islamisation has begun." (08/04/2015)

Der Standard - Austria

Zeman's house ban for ambassador overhasty

Miloš Zeman has banned the US ambassador to the Czech Republic from visiting his official residence Prague Castle after the latter said it would be 'awkward' should Zeman go ahead with plans to attend celebrations in Moscow commemorating the victory against Nazi Germany. The left-liberal daily Der Standard describes Zeman's reaction as over the top: "To construct a conflict on the highest level out of this incident is the result of either an inability to deal sensibly with even minimal criticism or political strategising against his own government: In Moscow - unlike in Prague - Zeman's loud reaction has met with approval. ... As a democratically elected president Zeman has every right to attend the Moscow celebrations. But to reject communication with the ambassador of another country testifies to a lack of understanding of the rudimentary principles of diplomacy which especially in times of military muscle-flexing are particularly important." (08/04/2015)

ECONOMY

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Proto Thema - Greece

Tsipras's visit to Moscow only positive

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras aims to deepen his country's cooperation with Russia during his visit to Moscow today, Wednesday. The liberal weekly Proto Thema sees good opportunities here, especially for the economy: "The subject of the [planned Russian gas pipeline] Turkish Stream is of major importance for the Russians. ... The Greek government camp is keeping the Russian trump card at the ready, confident that it will offer significant advantages: firstly cheap gas supplies, secondly projects that promise work for Greek companies and boost Greece's production capacities, and thirdly the strengthening of Athens' position in the name dispute with the Republic of Macedonia. The meeting between Putin and Tsipras will secure extra points for the Greek prime minister and demonstrate that he can play his international cards swiftly." (08/04/2015)

SOCIETY

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Új Szó (Slowakei) - Slovakia

Police violence against Roma common in Slovakia

According to media reports more than a dozen Rome were beaten by police during a raid in the eastern Slovakian municipality of Vrbnica. The Hungarian-language Slovakian daily Új Szó points out that in the past similar incidents have remained without consequences: "In recent years there have been numerous incidents in which the behaviour of the police towards the Roma minority was more than worrying. The biggest problem however is not the behaviour of the police, which in certain cases is legitimate, but that later, in the course of legal proceedings, all controls are lacking. Six years have passed since police officers in Kosice forced six Roma children to strip naked and hit each other at the police station. Although an amateur video documenting the incident exists all the police officers involved were recently acquitted of committing any offence at first instance." (07/04/2015)

Newsweek Polska - Poland

Poland's new baby bonus unfair

Under a new amendment approved by the government on Tuesday, all families in Poland will be able to claim 1,000 złoty (or 250 euros) in benefits in their child's first year as of 2016 - independently of how high their income is. An unfair regulation, the liberal Newsweek Polska magazine finds: "It doesn't make sense to give everyone the baby bonus without taking account of a family's income and material assets. Why should a single mother receive the same treatment as the wife of an entrepreneur who earns enough to guarantee a good life for his wife and children? To give all mothers the same amount is certainly not fair, even if those who penned the law say it is. It would only be fair if those who have many assets didn't receive any support from the government because they can get along just fine without this money." (08/04/2015)

De Volkskrant - Netherlands

Dutch train conductors shouldn't be armed

Following several violent attacks on train conductors the Netherlands' railway workers trade union is calling for staff to be armed with truncheons and pepper spray. But that would be the wrong approach, the left-liberal daily De Volkskrant warns: "A truncheon may give staff a sense of security; albeit perhaps false. But among the good-willed passengers who are no doubt in the majority this would create unease. Arming staff makes violence on trains visible and tangible. The reaction to criminality can contribute just as much to creating a threatening atmosphere as the criminality itself. Full security is merely an illusion, also on trains. But a society that wants to be open doesn't have to eradicate the evil by resorting to means that make it estranged from itself." (08/04/2015)

MEDIA

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Diena - Latvia

Loyal Russians sought for new TV programme

After Latvia's National Electronic Media Council gave its approval for a new Russian-language TV station the liberal daily Diena wonders who will be responsible for programming: "The founders of the Russian-language channel no doubt assume that somewhere in Latvia there are dozens of journalists with a good knowledge of Russian who don't support Russia's imperial foreign policy. And if we don't already have such 'good Russians', well then, we'll just have to raise them. But what should these good Russians look like? Is it enough for them to know the official language and acknowledge the [Soviet] occupation of 1940? And what if they view May 9 and the capitulation of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union as a day of victory? What if they're against the annexation of Crimea but are sceptical about Western sanctions against Russia? Is that all right, or isn't it? ... At the end of the day, the new TV station will be in the crossfire of political debate." (07/04/2015)

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