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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 23/10/2015



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Heads of government seek solution for Balkan route

The trail leading from Greece to Central Europe via the Balkans has become the main route for refugees. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


The heads of government of eight EU states plus Serbia and Macedonia plan to discuss the refugee situation on the so-called Balkan route on Sunday in Brussels. This is a major opportunity for the hardest-hit countries to develop a joint strategy, some commentators point out. Others claim the states agreed on a restrictive asylum policy long ago.

Jutarnji list - Croatia

Time for a joint decision on the Balkan route

The refugee summit of the most affected European states is a great opportunity to set out clear arrangements, the liberal daily Jutarnji list stresses: "Merkel will have to tell the other leaders what Germany wants, and whether or when it plans to slow down or stop its refugee intake. Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia are all expecting answers here. Everyone fears that if Germany stops taking in refugees a backlog will build up in the countries to the south. … This will be a unique opportunity for everyone to state their opinion and not hurl accusations at each other via the media and at bilateral meetings. Everyone is in the same boat and can only overcome the crisis together. The alternative would be to drive the refugees from border to border and keep on blaming each other." (23/10/2015)

Le Figaro - France

Myth of Europe as a safe haven crumbles

Europe's politicians must finally tell the truth in the refugee crisis, the conservative daily Le Figaro warns: "Europe seems powerless, full of cracks and fissures. However the Europeans are more united in their reaction to this challenge than their leaders let on. When Angela Merkel sighs that we must now 'pay the price of globalisation', when Jean-Claude Juncker weeps over 'self-absorbed' Europe, they are completely missing the point. The truth - and it's too bad that Viktor Orbán is the only one saying it - is that not a single nation has given a mandate to its leaders to welcome hundreds of thousands of migrants willy-nilly. And, regardless of what they say, all countries are tightening their systems for monitoring and expelling illegal immigrants. Even 'Mother Angela' is planning to use military aircraft to return 200,000 migrants whose applications have been rejected. The myth of the European safe haven is collapsing - onto those who built it and the exiles who believed in it." (22/10/2015)

Le Jeudi - Luxembourg

EU's fear of refugees is laughable

It's unacceptable that a number of EU states still oppose distribution quotas for the refugees, the centre-left weekly Le Jeudi writes: "All of these blockades can only lead to disaster. Germany can't take in all the refugees on its own, so it's unacceptable that the Eastern European countries seal themselves off in this way. … Europe only has itself to blame for its current impasse. The only path open to it now is the path of dignity - towards the migrants and towards itself. The rest is like the story of the elephant that's afraid of the mouse. Even if the EU takes in a million refugees, that would only represent 0.2 percent of its population. You really have to lack confidence in our values and cultural models to think that the European house will collapse if it opens its doors." (22/10/2015)

Jyllands-Posten - Denmark

Sweden's idealism also has its limits

Sweden is expecting up to 190,000 asylum seekers this year, according to current forecasts. The country that is known for its generous asylum policy is now being forced to look reality in the eye, the centre-right daily Jyllands-Posten comments: "The united front against the [right-wing] Sweden Democrats has collapsed. One party after another has come to terms with reality and distanced itself from the romantic delusion that the politicians and media had until now been clinging to in a grotesque alliance. Now the focus is on the quick processing of asylum applications, tightened border controls and support for EU plans for reception centres in Southern Europe. ... Not so long ago Prime Minister Stefan Löfven loftily condemned the countries that had resorted to just such measures to deal with the flood of refugees. Now Sweden must also admit that idealism has its limits: it's doing exactly the same thing." (23/10/2015)


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Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland

Protect Polish democracy from the PiS

According to a current Ipsos poll the national-conservative PiS party is set to receive 38 and the governing liberal PO 22 percent of the vote in Poland's parliamentary elections on Sunday. A victory for the PiS would be a catastrophe, the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza warns in a piece signed by the entire editorial staff: "The standpoint of the Gazeta Wyborcza is based on our 26-year history and the values that we cherish most. These are parliamentary democracy, the free market, social justice, European integration, ideological tolerance, the freedom of the individual and human rights. ... However the PiS is not a democratic party, but one that functions according to authoritarian principles. ... We recommend voting for one of the parties that respect the constitution, and which unlike Orbán do not aim to dismantle democracy. Five of eight parties fulfil these criteria: the [liberal] Nowoczesna, the PO, the [agrarian party] PSL, the United Left and the [right-wing] Polska Razem." (23/10/2015)

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

Exodus to Europe: Problem starts in Greece, not Hungary

It is not Hungary but Greece that has failed to respect the rules in the refugee crisis, the conservative daily Lidové noviny argues, saying the criticism of Budapest is unfair: "The refugees aren't just arriving out of the blue. The vast majority of them are making their way across Greece, Schengen Europe's outpost, without any problems. … So why is it not being pointed out that the problem begins in Greece? Under the Dublin Regulation the first European state the migrants set foot on must initiate asylum proceedings - in other words Greece. Now it would be demagogic to say that the Greeks can cope with the flood of refugees on their own. That is why the call for solidarity from the EU takes priority here. But it would be just as demagogic to claim that Hungary is causing the problem because it is sticking to the rules. Or have the EU states already decided that Dublin no longer applies?" (23/10/2015)

Público - Portugal

Portugal's president too involved

Portugal's former head of government Passos Coelho was sworn in as prime minister on Thursday by President Cavaco Silva, although his centre-right alliance lost its absolute majority in the elections three weeks ago. Now the question is whether the minority government can pass its programme in the next ten days with votes from the opposition. Cavaco is interfering too much in the process of government building, the liberal daily Público observes: "By the looks of things the president is trying to give this minority government a chance. ... What was surprising in Cavaco's speech was his call for what is all but a rebellion, which he aimed at the socialist [PS] members of parliament, stressing that they must bear in mind Portugal's best interests when they cast their votes. With his deeply ideological intervention and harsh warnings (for example that the creditors' trust could be breached should the left reach an agreement), Cavaco Silva has in fact already let it be known that he rejects a left-wing government alliance despite its majority in parliament." (22/10/2015)

Zaman - Turkey

Turkey traumatised in run-up to new elections

Despite new elections scheduled for November 1, there are no signs of election fever in Turkey, the Islamic-conservative daily Zaman observes: "The reason is clear: it's all a repetition of June 7. In total four elections will have taken place within a short period of time. We're tired and have had enough. ... According to a political observer, the [former governing party] AKP will receive a few more votes, but that won't change the number of seats it has in parliament. By the look of things the results will be pretty much the same as last time. ... Nevertheless much has changed since June 7. Terror has reared its bloody head. Hundreds of families have buried their dead. The Ankara attack which claimed the lives of 102 people was carried out. The biggest terrorist attack in the history of Turkey has caused severe social trauma. ... And the shock wave will reverberate for years to come." (23/10/2015)

Deutsche Welle - Romania

Extend investigations beyond ex-president Iliescu

In Romania ex-president Ion Iliescu is under investigation for crushing anti-communist protests in June 1990. The Romanian service of Germany state broadcaster Deutsche Welle stresses that Iliescu is not the only one who bears responsibility here: "One thing is clear: a thorough investigation should be conducted not just against ex-leader Ion Iliescu but also against the first post-communist government under then prime minister Petre Roman and the secret service chiefs at the time. But everything seems to be focussed on Ion Iliescu and there is the danger that he will become the symbol of the guilt and partial responsibility of all the others, just as [dictator] Ceaușescu was sentenced to death in proxy for all communism so that others could continue their careers unhindered." (22/10/2015)


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Frankfurter Rundschau - Germany

Exodus to Europe: Claus Leggewie wants to give migrants an EU passport

In view of the refugee crisis political scientist Claus Leggewie demands in a commentary in the centre-left daily Frankfurter Rundschau that refugees be given European citizenship: "So far European citizenship has derived from a person's national citizenship; European Union citizenship as such does not yet exist. The states defend their right to grant citizenship (and revoke it). This is the result of an age-old, never entirely realised and increasingly frayed ideal that perceives territory and culture, or ethnos and demos, as one. … Clearly mass immigration has long been calling this axiom into question. Not only has immigration resulted in growing cultural (or ethnic and religious) pluralism, but the number of people with dual and even multiple citizenship has risen considerably. … It's time to expand [EU citizenship] and thus win over those who receive it as the best champions and proponents of a united Europe." (23/10/2015)

The Guardian - United Kingdom

Exodus to Europe: Andras Schweitzer on the lack of compassion in Eastern Europe

Most Eastern European states have shown less willingness than the Western European states to take in refugees from the Middle East and Africa. The main reason for this is the ethnic conflicts of the last century in the region, columnist Andras Schweitzer writes in the centre-left daily The Guardian: "The most important factor for the 'compassion deficit' is fear - and not only on the personal level. In Eastern Europe, where borders were frequently redrawn, the nation is still widely seen as an ethnic/cultural entity rather than a political one, and cultural and ethnic homogeneity is regarded as an asset that helps to prevent the disintegration of the state. ... As long as the concept of the 'nation' remains ethnically defined (Hungarian-speaking Slovak citizens are generally considered Hungarians both in Slovakia and in Hungary), the integration of immigrants is much more problematic than in those western countries where nationality basically equals citizenship." (22/10/2015)


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Avvenire - Italy

Europe stuck on ECB's drip

The European Central Bank is contemplating extending its bond-buying programme. ECB chief Mario Draghi announced on Thursday that further quantitative easing measures would be examined in December. Europe will remain in intensive care for some time to come, the Catholic daily Avvenire predicts: "We shouldn't forget that the real goal of the glut of money was to bring the inflation rate back up to an acceptable level, which according to the central bank is two percent. Unfortunately we are still nowhere near that goal. Quantitative easing has fallen short of its target. So the ECB sees itself forced to intensify the therapy to achieve a rise in prices. It seems to be increasingly problematic for Europe to leave the intensive care unit - or in other words to get back to a situation in which the economy, rather than the liquidity of a financial world doped up on cash injections, is responsible for growth. But the plan to overcome the period of stagnation using monetary measures exclusively is likely to be anything but painless." (23/10/2015)


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Neatkarīgā - Latvia

Roof collapse culprits deserve harsh sentences

Almost two years after the roof of a supermarket in Riga collapsed killing 54 people, the public prosecutor's office in Latvia has concluded its investigation. None of the nine defendants have admitted responsibility; most of them face five years in prison. The national conservative daily Neatkarīgā hopes the trial will end with harsh sentences: "These 54 victims are not the result of an earthquake or a meteorite hitting the earth. They died because nine honourable ladies and gentlemen neglected their duties during their working hours. We are talking here about duties for which these ladies and gentlemen received money. They are still seen as normal bureaucrats, but in reality they are murderers. … Severe sentences for those who give the green light for flawed projects could be a warning that those who put their signature to something must take responsibility for it." (22/10/2015)

Õhtuleht - Estonia

Don't just lock away youth murderer

A court in the Estonian municipality of Viljandi on Tuesday sentenced a 16-year-old pupil who shot dead his German teacher during class one year ago to nine years in prison. The tabloid Õhtuleht is not surprised by the length of the sentence but asks what will happen once it has been served: "When the killer comes out of prison as a 24-year old he will have spent 40 percent of his life behind bars. Will he have turned into a model citizen or will he be a dyed-in-the-wool young criminal who will have a hard time returning to a normal life? Any court decision must also answer these questions so that society can learn something from what happened." (20/10/2015)


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Echo Moskwy - Russia

Global perspectives: Russian media skew reality in Syria

Despite their extensive coverage the Russian media have failed to accurately reflect the reality of Moscow's air strikes in Syria, Georgy Mirsky writes in his blog for Echo of Moscow: "Day in, day out, our media tell us that the Syrian army's long-awaited major offensive has begun. ... But they paint a skewed picture that would have people believe that two forces are fighting against each other in Syria: the army of the rightful president against terrorist groups. In reality, however, five wars are raging. The government troops will have a hard time being victorious even with the most effective Russian air support, because for that they would have to defeat not only the Islamic terrorists but also the moderate Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Free Syrian Army, and the secular opposition groups with which the latter are affiliated." (21/10/2015)

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