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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 14/08/2015

 

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Europe weighed down by refugee crisis

An Afghani family arriving at the train station in the Bavarian town of Rosenheim. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

Every day more people are fleeing war and poverty and seeking asylum in Europe. The EU member states are at loggerheads over refugee quotas, the authorities are often overburdened, and parts of the population are opposed to taking in asylum seekers outright. Europe's moral credibility is at stake in the refugee crisis, commentators write, and look to the future in alarm.

The Irish Independent - Ireland

Europe must not be a fortress

The tendency of many European states to seal themselves off from refugees instead of helping them is shameful, columnist Martina Devlin writes in the conservative daily Irish Independent: "Why is there a Fortress Europe mentality, despite the fact that what's happening on its shores is widely accepted as an emergency? ... Even if these people have no legal right to be in Europe, don't they have a moral claim towards protection? Isn't fellow humanity entitlement enough? Seventy years ago, after World War II ended, countries had to ask themselves whether they did enough to prevent the Holocaust - and some nations were obliged to hang their heads in shame. Now it's time to pose the same question." (13/08/2015)

El País - Spain

Our psyche is imprisoned in a golden cage

Europe is betraying its basic values and damaging its own psyche by sealing itself off from refugees, political scientist Fernando Vallespín writes in the centre-left daily El País: "Ironically, Brussels is reacting to the problem as if it were merely an administrative matter that could be solved by closing down borders in the most efficient way possible. But in so doing it's ignoring the true dimension of this business: namely the humanitarian crisis that should jolt us into not abandoning the moral values that we want to pass on. ... We have become prisoners to our own success. We live in a supposedly golden cage whose bars are meant to exclude the others while at the same time confining those who are trying to profit from the situation. Ours is a sort of psychological captivity, which doesn't make it any less real. Because what can be worse than living in a permanent moral contradiction?" (14/08/2015)

Új Szó (Slowakei) - Slovakia

Today's flood of refugees only the beginning

The current influx of refugees into Europe is just the start, the Hungarian-language Slovakian paper Új Szó writes with an eye to a UN forecast: "Between 2010 and 2015, an average of 4.1 million people migrated every year from developing countries to the industrial states. By 2050 a further 91 million refugees are expected. ... The anticipated demographic developments are worrying indeed. While Europe's population (roughly 38 billion today) will stagnate, according to the UN, Africa's population will rise from 1.2 billion to 2.5 billion. ... This means today's dramatic flood of refugees is just a mild foretaste of what's to come. If the UN forecast proves correct, Europe as we know it will unrecognisable. The immigrants and their descendants will be the majority in many EU states by 2050." (13/08/2015)

POLITICS

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To Vima Online - Greece

Austerity package impacts Greece to the core

The Greek parliament today accepted the new bailout package and the accompanying austerity measures. Once again Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras lacked the necessary support from his governing coalition and had to depend on votes from the opposition. The liberal online daily To Vima takes a worried look at the next few months: "History is repeating itself. Although this is the first time we've had a 'leftist' government in Greece, it looks very much as if our leaders still consider the situation a farce rather than a tragedy. ... This tragedy will be many sided: it will severely affect what is left of our country's economy, as well as our parliamentary democracy, our state organisation and our social cohesion. And at the end of the day it will harm Greece's European identity - in the interests of which all of this is supposedly taking place." (14/08/2015)

T24 - Turkey

New elections would be catastrophic for Turkey

The Turkish ruling party AKP and the Republican People's Party CHP on Thursday declared that their coalition talks had failed. The liberal internet newspaper T24 fears that potential new elections could only further destabilise the country: "Erdoğan has blocked the path to a grand coalition. This is the main problem, and it was no surprise. All other discussions are absurd, nothing but empty words. … During this period the country is becoming more unstable all the time. And there are even more turbulent times ahead, both politically and economically. There will be bloodbaths. Mothers will cry even more tears. Food supplies will worsen and unemployment will rise. Or to put it another way, Turkey is further along the way to becoming a land that does not solve its problems but only creates more." (14/08/2015)

Asia Times - China

View from abroad: Criticism of yuan devalutaion shows double standards

The downward slide of the yuan came to an end today, Friday, after three days. The criticism of the devaluation levelled over the past days by Western commentators shows double standards at work, states the Chinese daily Asia Times: "There is of course the whole 'pot calling kettle black' story which is what happens when European and US politicians start protesting about Chinese government 'intervention in free markets.' That sort of statement is of course very rich when it comes from countries where there hasn't been anything like a 'free market' for a while now. Remember ... the 'whatever it takes' mantra of the ECB which pushed it to buy dodgy government bonds all over Europe as it tried to keep a lid on borrowing costs; but this pushed the currency sharply lower due to the flood of new liquidity." (13/08/2015)

Le Monde - France

TTIP documents exposure unrealistic

The whistle-blowing platform Wikileaks on Tuesday announced its plan to offer a 100,000 euro reward for information on the TTIP documents. The money is currently being raised by a crowdfunding campaign. It will be nigh on impossible to get information, explains journalist Maxime Vaudano on his blog for the daily Le Monde: "The very fact that 100,000 euro is being offered shows how unlikely it is that anyone would try to do such a thing spontaneously or without financial motivation. There is good reason for this. Namely, that only a handful of people have access to the documents about the most recent developments. … The plan to secure a whistleblower to reveal the contents of the partnership is also impossible right now because the actual TTIP/Tafta does not exist yet. The discussions between Europe and the US which began in 2013 are a long way from being fed into a final document." (11/08/2015)

Tportal - Croatia

Croatian PM's cowardly stance on IS terrorists

After the alleged execution of the Croatian hostage Tomislav Salopek by the IS, Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanović at a press conference denied that Croatia should step up its involvement in the fight against the IS. Such faint-heartedness plays into the terrorists' hands, the liberal website t-portal fumes: "Asked by reporters if Croatia would up its commitment against the IS, our poltroon of a prime minister Milanović answered: 'Croatia will not take part in combat operations against the IS. We're not in a position to: others must do that'. ... The only people who will be happy to hear such statements are the terrorists. ... His evasive words send a clear message: The Croatians are scared, and don't even dare admit that they're part of an anti-terrorist coalition, to say nothing of taking action to bring the killers to justice. After the murder of a Croatian citizen, their prime minister has promised that Croatia will not take part in the fight against the IS. Our goal has been achieved!" (14/08/2015)

Delo - Slovenia

The Hague will now decide over Gulf of Piran

The new arbitrator representing Slovenia in the border dispute with Croatia over the Gulf of Piran should be appointed by the president of the arbitration tribunal, the government in Ljubljana decided on Thursday. The judges formerly representing both Slovenia and Croatia stepped down after a phone-hacking scandal. The two new faces are unlikely to have much sway over the outcome of the case, the centre-left daily Delo believes: "If it's true that the arbitration panel [in The Hague] in its former constellation was on the brink of a solution to the border dispute then the two new arbitrators are hardly going to tip the balance. … The arbitration panel let it be known that it would continue its work. We can interpret this as meaning that Slovenia has not violated the rules of the game so badly that the tribunal cannot continue its work. But the government's decision does make it clear that Ljubljana no longer even has a tactical advantage and everything now rests in the hands of The Hague." (14/08/2015)

ECONOMY

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Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland

Investment needed in Poland's power grid

Due to a lack of water for cooling the power stations brought on by the heatwave, Poland's energy suppliers on Wednesday announced further reductions to electricity supplies. Let this be a warning, the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza admonishes: "If no investments are forthcoming we will once again run short of electricity this winter or next summer - when we need it the most. We're now paying for the fact that the [centre-left] PO-PSL government [2007-2011] - as well as a string of other governments after 1989 - took no action on this front. Only in recent years have serious discussions focussed on the construction of large, modern power stations in [the Polish cities of] Kozienice and Opole. Only then did politicians grasp that the 30 year-old, technically obsolete and highly toxic facilities could not guarantee the country's energy supply. ... But no economy can develop without a stable supply of electricity." (14/08/2015)

Kauppalehti - Finland

Let Finland be a tax haven

The Finnish crane constructor Konecranes on Tuesday announced its merger with the US heavy equipment manufacturer Terex. Although Terex is twice the size of Konecranes, the new company's headquarters will be located in Finland due to the low corporate taxes there. The country has no reason to be ashamed of its lenient tax policy, the business paper Kauppalehti maintains: "The international tax competition is brutal, and the worst abuses must be kept in check through international agreements. In Finland, however, we must also think about our own interests. We don't achieve much competitive advantage with our taxation policy. If corporate tax were higher, many Finnish multinationals would opt to register their profits outside Finland. As things stand most of this tax money goes to Finland, and a few crumbs even fall on us from the United States." (14/08/2015)

SOCIETY

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Latvijas Sabiedriskie mediji - Latvia

Latvian debate on burqa ban pointless

Latvia's President Raimonds Vējonis on Tuesday proposed a debate about banning the burqa in public after Estonia has been discussing the issue over the past week. The whole discussion has little to do with reality, the website of the public radio station LSM scoffs: "Has anyone actually seen anyone wearing Muslim women's clothing in Latvia? Has anyone seen a woman with a fully veiled face here? No. So why do we need to debate the issue? Because it's comfortable for the politicians. They can speak out against or for the burqa without insulting a lot of voters. … For now at least it sounds like a lot of hot air, which is typical for Latvian politicians." (13/08/2015)

Lietuvos rytas - Lithuania

Burqa ban in Lithuania would be cynical

The chairman of the Committee for National Security and Defence in the Lithuanian Seimas, Artūras Paulauskas, on Thursday advocated that Lithuania should ban the wearing of burqas in public places. Lithuania is about to take in over 300 refugees, among them Muslims. The liberal daily Lietuvos rytas finds the proposal cynical: "What are the basic rules of Lithuanian hospitality? Before the guest even gets a foot over threshold, raise a fist to his face and tell him sternly that he should sit down and keep his mouth shut. Even if this guest is poor, only wants a roof over his head and we have supposedly agreed to take him in in good faith. … All the chairman of the committee really wants to get across is that terrorists can potentially hide themselves under burqas, which make these garments a threat to national security." (14/08/2015)

Puls - Germany

Assuage the people's fears of refugees

A bus driver in Franconia spoke in his best English to welcome 15 asylum seekers to Germany at the start of a bus journey, and the scene went viral on social media. Puls, the youth magazine of the public broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk, interviewed the man. It is symptomatic of the vague fears felt by many Germans that he used to sympathise with the anti-asylum group AfD, the magazine explains: "There are many people in Germany like this bus driver in Erlangen. People who are scared of ending up on welfare, and whose only contact with the state is arguing with the case workers at the job centre, feel abandoned. … And so they end up joining some mob to raise their right arms in front of asylum homes. Or they say: in spite everything, I have nothing against asylum seekers, they are probably worse off than me. … Of course people will understandably feel anxious about having a home for refugees in their part of town. But it's up to the politicians to assuage their fears." (14/08/2015)

Le Courrier - Switzerland

Only a social movement can save our planet

"Overshoot Day” 2015 was reached on Thursday of this week, when according to calculations by Global Footprint Networks humanity used up all the resources that the Earth has at its disposal for an entire year. What we need is a social movement to engage in the debate on resource management, the Christian-social daily Le Courrier declares: "If we continue as we are in fifteen years we will need two planets. Nothing less is at stake than the future of humanity - and this goes for the next climate conference in Paris (the COP21) as well. But the calculations provide no answer to the key question about the generation of wealth and its fair distribution. … Above all the problem relates to political decisions which prioritise the profits of a few over the common good. This is why we need to completely reorganise our production models and way of living, something the chief negotiators at the COP21 are not open to - quite the opposite in fact. Only a strong and lasting social movement can bring these issues back to the heart of the debate." (14/08/2015)

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