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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 28/09/2015

 

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Separatists win in Catalonia

The Catalan government billed the regional election as a referendum on independence from Spain. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

The separatist coalition Junts pel Sí and the far-left party CUP won an absolute majority of the parliamentary seats in the regional elections in Catalonia on Sunday. Spain's central government must take the election outcome seriously, some commentators urge, saying that it will give separatist movements in other European countries fresh impetus.

La Repubblica - Italy

Separatists' victory has impact on all Europe

The outcome of the regional election in Catalonia will have serious consequences for the EU, the centre-left daily La Repubblica predicts: "Because if the separatist camp breaks Madrid's resistance within 18 months, as it has said it will do, this would mean not just Catalonia's separation from Spain but also its exit from the EU and the Eurozone. … Whatever course the controversy and Barcelona's attempt to emancipate from Madrid take, we can be sure that it won't be easy to mediate and that the sentiments of Spaniards of all different political orientations will be aroused. Hopefully this won't culminate in violence. But above all the campaign will be followed closely by other separatist movements from Scotland to Flanders, not to mention the Northern Italians of the Po basin. Because they are aware that their own struggles for independence depend on the success of the Catalan movement." (28/09/2015)

El País - Spain

Madrid must not ignore election results

Although the separatist party alliance Junts pel Sí and the left-wing separatist CUP attained the absolute majority of seats, they only received 48 percent of the vote. But even if they failed to achieve their goal of securing an unequivocal vote for Catalan independence Madrid must now make overtures to the separatists, the centre-left daily El País urges: "An alternative [to a separatist coalition government] seems difficult to impossible. For that reason, and also because other lists are calling for a reform of the relations between the central and regional governments, no one must ignore these election results - including the central government in Madrid. It must react quickly, open the door to dialogue, and try to find an answer to the Catalans' clear call for change. The government must finally make clear proposals instead of hiding behind the courts." (28/09/2015)

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

Spain is not a prison of the nations

If the government in Madrid really wants Spain to remain united it must think about what concessions it can make to the Catalans, the liberal-conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung comments: "So far there has been no dialogue between Madrid and Barcelona; the political protagonists have gone out of their way to prevent it. Ahead of the vote both Spanish leader Mariano Rajoy and Mas came across as inordinately stubborn. They claimed to be defending noble principles, Spain's unity on the one hand and the people's right to self-determination on the other, but what they really wanted was to win votes. The Spanish elections are yet to come. It remains to be seen whether new governments in Madrid and Barcelona will make a start on real negotiations. … The Spanish constitution does not see Spain as a 'prison of the nations'. Nor does it forbid debate on fundamental questions of the Spanish state, and if necessary it can be changed." (28/09/2015)

Público - Portugal

Independence is unrealistic

After this election it seems very unrealistic that Catalonia will become independent within 18 months, the liberal daily Público writes and calls on both sides to return to the negotiating table: "What is seen in Madrid as a 'secessionist adventure' can now be confirmed with figures: almost half of the Catalans believe they will be better off with their own institutions. … Spain must deal seriously with the Catalan issue because a division scenario is not a sensible move. Therefore they should look at the reality as it is  - without illusions. The solution must be political and it can only be found through negotiations. … The Catalan head of government Arturo Mas has announced that he would negotiate a secession with Madrid within 18 months if his party won the election. That is simply no longer realistic. But we all know - Mas too - that negotiations are always an option if the will to negotiate exists." (28/09/2015)

POLITICS

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Neatkarīgā - Latvia

Exodus to Europe: Greece must be shut out of the Schengen Area!

Greece should be shut out of the Schengen zone in the refugee crisis, the national conservative daily Neatkarīgā argues: "Come to the Latvian-Russian border or the Estonian-Russian border and see for yourselves what the border controls look like there. On the EU's outer borders in the Baltics order prevails. Not so on the Greek island of Lesbos. … For years Greece has been acting irresponsibly in the financial area, but it remains in the Eurozone. … As far as the Schengen Area is concerned the member states should be more stringent. A state that is unable or unwilling to control its borders properly has no place there. Greece must be kicked out of the Schengen Area! That would teach the new generation of politicians an important lesson. And if Croatia turns its borders into a transit route that country too should give up all hopes of ever joining the Schengen Area." (25/09/2015)

The Washington Post - U.S.

Exodus to Europe: Gulf states also shoulder responsibility

The Arab Gulf states have taken in only 30 asylum seekers since the start of the war in Syria. But the liberal daily The Washington Post refutes accusations that they are not doing enough to help in the refugee crisis which is mainly affecting Europe: "They have donated to support the U.N. refugee agency's efforts in countries neighboring Syria. They have welcomed large numbers of foreign workers, including 2 million to 3 million Syrians, many of whom arrived since the war began. And they have quietly renewed the visas of Syrian workers so that they don't have to return to Syria. ... Other Syrian workers in the gulf have more tenuous legal status, since they can be fired and sent home at any time. For some, though, conditions in the gulf states may be better than what they would face elsewhere." (27/09/2015)

Tportal - Croatia

Exodus to Europe: Dublin Regulation a bad deal

How on earth could countries with EU external borders ever have agreed to the Dublin Regulation? the liberal website tportal wonders: "The border states clearly didn't put a lot of thought into what they were signing when they agreed to the Dublin Regulation. This (the first version of which dates back to 2003) stipulates that asylum seekers (today refugees) must file their requests in the EU state they first entered. And there they are to remain or be redistributed when the other states take pity on them and agree to (absurd) quotas. ... When people from Asia or Africa flee to Europe they are certainly not going to travel en masse to Denmark, Slovakia or France. No, they'll make for the nearest country they can reach - Italy, Greece, and from there to Hungary and Croatia. ... What were the governments of these states thinking when they said yes to this unfair game which they can't win and which meant granting states like the UK, the Czech Republic and France sweeping rights not to help the border states?" (28/09/2015)

Le Figaro - France

France can't defeat IS terrorists on its own

The French air force on Sunday bombed an IS training camp in Syria on the grounds that it represented a threat to France's security. But Paris won't be able to achieve much by going it alone, the conservative daily Le Figaro criticises: "Experience has taught us that in the power games of the great you can't force events or prevent anything from happening by acting alone. Today Vladimir Putin will present an initiative for Syria at the UN General Assembly, before meeting with Barack Obama for the first time since 2013. Did François Hollande act for fear of being left out? The manoeuvre may have had a diplomatic goal but it did not accomplish much from a strategic point of view. France cannot wage its own war in Syria parallel to that between the Western coalition and the alliance consisting of Assad, Russia and Iran. To make its presence felt it must choose sides - or act as a bridge between Moscow and Washington." (28/09/2015)

L'Echo - Belgium

Pact with Assad the most efficient solution

The presidents of Russia and the US, Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama, will meet today to discuss the possibility of an alliance with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. If the West wants to end the violence in Syria and stop the IS terrorist organisation, a pact with the Syrian despot is indeed advisable, the liberal business paper L'Echo believes: "Hundreds of thousands are fleeing the war between the government, the opponents of the regime and the so-called Islamic State, creating a humanitarian crisis on the borders and in the heart of the European Union. Russia has meanwhile thrown its weight behind one camp and is providing military aid to Bashar al-Assad. After four years of standstill, the most effective course of action seems - very cynically - to be to back the Syrian despot." (28/09/2015)

Deutsche Welle - Romania

Careful with Moldova's pro-Russian protesters

Tens of thousands of opposition demonstrators once again called for the resignation of the government in the Moldovan capital on Sunday. Dozens of pro-European and pro-Russian anti-government protesters have been camping out on the main square in Chişinău for the past few weeks. The latter have a dubious reputation, the Romanian service of the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle believes: "The Moldovans don't have a single decision-maker who isn't corrupt and at the same time gung-ho to take an active role in politics. For that reason they want to get rid of the corrupt and greedy rulers by forming an alliance with other dubious forces that want to seize power. And that's why representatives of the most important pro-Russian parties have set up their tents on Boulevard Stefan the Great: the Party of Socialists (under the leadership of the former communist Igor Dodon) and Patria (led by Renato Usatîi, who says he wants to be a sort of Lukashenko for Moldova)." (28/09/2015)

ECONOMY

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Deutschlandradio Kultur - Germany

VW emissions scam affects us all

Around 2.8 million vehicles in Germany are affected by the Volkswagen emissions scam, the German transport ministry has said. The scandal doesn't only affect the carmaker, writes public broadcaster Deutschlandradio Kultur: "It is everyone's business because it shines a light on the self-betrayal of a car-loving nation: the belief that we can still use cars and at the same time protect the environment and health to an extent that is desirable. … The VW scandal should therefore also prompt politicians to stop relying on the miracles of technology. Instead there must be a turnaround in traffic policy that firstly aims to avoid traffic, and secondly to transfer transport to buses, trains and bicycles - and also puts an emphasis on clean engines." (26/09/2015)

The Sunday Times Ireland - Ireland

Even low earners must pay taxes

The government in Dublin has announced that it will free a further 90,000 low earners from paying any income tax or social insurance contributions in the coming year. That is unfair for higher earners, the conservative daily The Sunday Times complains: "By the time [Finance Minister] Noonan sits down after his speech, some 30% of the Irish workforce will no longer be bothered by either of these charges. The tax burden, therefore, will rest entirely on the other 70%, the same 'squeezed middle' the government professes to be so concerned about. That so many workers should now be enjoying a free ride on the state is simply wrong. ... Another necessity is ensuring every worker in the country, no matter how modest their salaries, makes a contribution to the national coffers." (27/09/2015)

SOCIETY

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Lapin Kansa - Finland

Exodus to Europe: Nothing justifies racism

Around 40 demonstrators attacked helpers and refugees arriving at a reception centre in the southern Finnish city of Lahti with stones and fireworks on Thursday night. Finland must not accept racism under any circumstances, the liberal daily Lapin Kansa warns: "What are we to think of people who shoot fireworks at asylum seekers and throw stones at Red Cross workers? … How to respond to those who fill Internet forums with their hate-filled comments? The Europe-wide refugee problem has triggered all kinds of fears among the Finns, most of which are unfounded. These fears breed hatred which lacks any basis. Finland is an international, open and tolerant country in which migrants are accepted by the majority of inhabitants. Finland is also a free country where everyone can express their opinion as long as they don't break any laws. Racism, however, is not acceptable in any form." (28/09/2015)

Club Z - Bulgaria

Exodus to Europe: Bulgaria's Orthodox Church is inhumane

In an open letter Bulgaria's Orthodox Church called on the state on Friday to not take in any more refugees. Bulgaria must protect itself from the wave of asylum seekers, it said. News website Club Z finds this worrying: "The tone adopted by the Church is reminiscent of a far-right party's rhetoric. The backwardness of its stance exudes an icy medieval coldness. Worn down by internal disputes, the outdated, dim-witted, lazy Church leadership is striking out on a new path here. It is trying to shape the government's refugee policy. For years we have criticised the passivity, silence and complacency of the Holy Synod. … Now it has spoken out with a cynical message that uses hate-filled language to explain that we must protect our territory from a foreign invasion. This is far more worrying than silence." (26/09/2015)

MEDIA

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Õhtuleht - Estonia

Spy exchange makes Estonia look bad

The Latvian Eston Kohver and the Russian Aleksei Dressen, each imprisoned in the country of the other on espionage charges, were exchanged on the weekend. The fact that the news was first made public by the Russian media worries the tabloid Õhtuleht: "Of course we can be happy that Eston Kohver is once again free and back in his home country, even if that meant Estonia had to pardon the traitor Aleksei Dressen. The people want to know what's happening, and if they can't get their information from the Estonian side Moscow fills the void with its version of the events. So the Estonian officials have no alternative but to refute the Russian video material on Kohver and Dressen. Moreover if we don't react at all we put the public in Estonia and the West at the mercy of the clever - and powerful - Russian propaganda. And as we've seen, Moscow never tires of using it." (28/09/2015)

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