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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 04/01/2016

 

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Poland's media law alarms EU

EU Media Commissioner Oettinger wants to activate the EU's rule of law mechanism, which could ultimately lead to the suspension of voting rights for Poland. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

The EU is examining the options for taking steps against the media reform passed in Poland at the end of the year that gives the government more influence in public broadcasting. The Union is right to put the national-conservative government in its place, some commentators say. Others find Brussels' finger-wagging counterproductive.

Público - Portugal

Brussels must bring Warsaw in line

Unlike with Hungary, in the case of Poland the EU must take clear and decisive action, writes the liberal daily Público: "Europe must not remain impassive and simply shrug off the situation as it has always done with Hungary. Our media systems are far from perfect and instances of state interference occur in many democratic countries, including Portugal. But to allow those mistakes to become the rule is unacceptable. The first piece of good news is that Brussels has the instruments to prevent 'systemic risks' in the legislation of the member states and ensure that 'European values' are adhered to. The second piece of good news is that after its hesitant behaviour regarding Hungary unambiguous criticism of the signs of 'Polish confusion' is being voiced in Europe. What Europe needs now is something that is so often lacking in Brussels - political power." (03/01/2016)

Deutschlandradio Kultur - Germany

Poles don't need sermons from Brussels

Poland can do without Brussels' finger wagging, writes the public service broadcaster Deutschlandradio Kultur: "The Poles must draw their own conclusions about their present government. After all, they must have known how the PiS's leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski is. He was prime minister just under ten years ago. And let's not forget that many young voters cast their ballots for the PiS and even for far more populist parties. They should experience the consequences of this party's partially irresponsible programme for their country. If they are already starting to have doubts about the wisdom of their choice Brussels' sermonising will only be counter-productive." (31/12/2015)

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

EU harder on Poland than on Hungary

Brussel's criticism of the new Polish media law elicits a surprised reaction from the conservative daily Lidové noviny: "Yes, the move to take over the broadcaster was disgusting. Nevertheless no one in Brussels was particularly disturbed by what is undoubtedly a more dangerous attack on the Polish Constitutional Court. State run television and radio are not uncommon in Central and Eastern Europe, even if the term 'public' is used to disguise this. ... Perhaps the harshness of the criticism has to do with the fact that the 'president' of the EU is Donald Tusk, who for years led the party that was given a thorough beating by Polish voters. Does Brussels have a double standard regarding Viktor Orbán, who rules Hungary with an iron fist? Germany, too, seems to have long turned a blind eye to Budapest's behaviour, while Warsaw, Prague and Bratislava are being lit up with spotlights." (04/01/2016)

Nasz Dziennik - Poland

PiS standing up to Western colonialists

The warnings from Brussels are just a sign that the EU is worried it will lose its influence over Poland, the national-Catholic daily Nasz Dziennik writes: "The PiS leadership is just starting its work and hasn't yet shown what it is capable of. So in fact the panicked voices in the West are the best indication of the quality of the new team. With their silent approval of the previous government, some Western Europeans have been exploiting Poland almost like a colony, but for them this golden age is now over. ... For example the bank sector, which is dominated by foreign capital, registered new record net profits almost every year. A current report put out by the [non-profit organisation] Global Financial Integrity shows that Poland is the only EU state among the 20 countries in the world in which foreign companies engage in illicit capital outflows." (04/01/2016)

POLITICS

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El Mundo - Spain

Execution in Saudi Arabia a trap for Iran

Following the execution of the Shia opposition cleric Nimr al-Nimr in Saudi Arabia protesters attacked the Saudi embassy in Iran. The conflict between the two regional superpowers can only be understood in an international context, the conservative daily El Mundo explains: "The tension between the two countries is alarming for the whole world. And it has risen continually ever since the historical nuclear agreement between the Western power and Iran was reached. Riyadh is afraid that it will lose influence, and that with Iran as a new protagonist on the international stage it could also lose the protection it has always enjoyed from Washington. … The execution of the Shia cleric is ultimately a trap set by the Saudis for their arch-enemy. Because Iran's furious reaction is the best proof to the world that it continues to be an unreliable political player. In any case the political conflicts in the Middle East, compounded by the sectarian conflicts, have long since made all those involved dangerously unpredictable." (04/01/2016)

Aargauer Zeitung - Switzerland

Time for sanctions against Riyadh

The West must impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia following the execution of 47 people including prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr, the liberal daily Aargauer Zeitung remonstrates: "For far too long we have ignored the fact that as well as oil Saudi Arabia exports a backwards form of Islam that promotes terrorist organisations like al-Qaeda and 'Islamic State'. There is still no sign of the Saudis adopting a clear course in the fight against terror. It is the West's job now to bring the Saudis 'in line'. If this can't be done with words then it must be done with deeds. In Iraq and most recently in Iran, it was sanctions that ultimately forced their leaders to rethink their course. Why should different rules apply for a country like Saudi Arabia which still supports extremism." (04/01/2016)

The Sunday Times - United Kingdom

A decisive year for London and Cameron

With the Brexit referendum looming 2016 will be a decisive year for the British and their prime minister David Cameron, the conservative Sunday Times predicts: "We don't know if the vote will indeed take place this year, as seems likely, but politics is already being shaped by the prospect. It will be tricky enough for David Cameron to secure a vote to stay in, even with a good renegotiation story to tell. But his renegotiation looks not so much like a damp as a drowned squib. On top of that, were he to be a typically unpopular mid-term prime minister, the referendum might be over before it even starts. ... Should Britain vote to leave, one person who will be departing immediately will be Mr Cameron himself." (03/01/2016)

Simerini - Cyprus

Turkey wants to annex Cyprus

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has described Adolf Hitler's regime as an example of a presidential system. This makes Ankara's political ambitions abundantly clear, also as regards the Cyprus issue, the conservative daily Simerini comments: "But why did the Turkish president make this statement? Because federalism has always been in the air in Turkey. And that's the last thing Erdoğan wants. He believes that if the Turkish state turns into a federal system the country would face disintegration! … The Turks want to break up the Republic of Cyprus by setting up a federation [that spans the entire island]. They are opting for a revisionist policy that emulates the undemocratic measures of the Hitler regime, and the Cypriots are supposed to entrust their gas pipelines to this regime. And Cyprus is to become a Turkish province. Is this the joint vision? Is this the much praised solution?" (04/01/2016)

Ziare - Romania

Romanian parliament has government in its grip

The Romanian parliament decided at the end of 2015 to raise many pensions and salaries in the public sector. The minimum wage will also be raised on May 1. The government, which is largely comprised of independent technocrats, seems powerless in the face of such populist decisions, the news portal Ziare comments: "The big question for 2016 is how Dacian Ciolos's government will stand up to the populism of politicians in this election year. ... We've been told that this cabinet would do everything the politicians failed to do out of ignorance, corruption or malice, and that the parliamentarians, driven into a corner, would obey and kowtow. But just the opposite seems to be happening: an intimidated government is doing everything the political class - which is anything but resigned and remorseful - is telling it to do in preparation for the election year. What's more, the politicians are sitting pretty: not they but the government will be held responsible for any and all mistakes." (04/01/2016)

REFLECTIONS

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Corriere della Sera - Italy

EU needs a constitution more than ever, Gerardo Villanacci argues

If the French had not rejected the European constitution in the referendum in 2005 the EU would have been better equipped to deal with the current crises, legal expert Gerardo Villanacci observes in the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera: "The unity and solidarity of Europe which Paris is rightly calling for [after the terrorist attacks] was prevented in a referendum on 29 May 2005 when they rejected the European constitution by a majority of more than 55 percent. That vote has had fateful consequences: first of all the domino effect that led to similar results in other EU countries. This made the victory of the anti-Europeans even more apparent, thus weakening the already precarious integration model that now, as back then, rests on foundations that were designed but never completed. To get rid of these weaknesses the debate about the European constitution must be revived in order to seek its ratification as quickly as possible. The constitution is a first and vital prerequisite for true integration that goes beyond economic and monetary integration and extends to the political level." (03/01/2016)

ECONOMY

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Latvijas Avize - Latvia

Visa freedom for Ukrainians dangerous for Latvia

The EU plans to abolish visa requirements for Georgians and Ukrainians as of the middle of the year. The national-conservative daily Latvijas avīze voices delight but also concern: "First of all, this is only fair. The Ukrainians unilaterally lifted visa restrictions for EU citizens ten years ago. And it would represent visible support - something like a reward - because both countries have been trying to move westward for years. ... However it's not tourists that will come to Berlin or Riga but job seekers. Ukraine has 42 million inhabitants, not counting Crimea and the separatist Donbass. If even a small percentage of them pack their bags and leave, Latvia will feel it. For Latvians it will be more difficult to find work in Europe. And even if wages in Latvia are among the lowest in the EU, what makes our country attractive is our large Ukrainian community." (03/01/2016)

SOCIETY

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Le Soir - Belgium

Terror threat cripples Belgium as much as bombs

The authorities in Brussels cancelled the traditional New Year's fireworks in the city centre due to the threat of terrorism. The terrorists have achieved their goal, the liberal daily Le Soir laments: "This isn't the first time the fireworks have been cancelled, and Brussels isn't the only European capital that resorted to drastic public security measures at the end of 2015. But that changes nothing in the fact that despite our will to behave as if nothing had happened, the major and/or immediate risk of an attack that never actually occurs is forcing us to live as if it happened every day. ... The psychological blow of New Year's Eve will also have an economic impact. The edginess of the shopkeepers and the despair of the public, who have repeatedly been held hostage by phantom (so far) terrorists threaten our social cohesion. No bombs have gone off, but it's already a bit like they had." (31/12/2015)

MEDIA

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Postimees - Estonia

Hate speech a security threat

The liberal-conservative daily Postimees has announced that it will discontinue the anonymous commentary function on its website on February 1. Police officer Joosep Kaasik praises the step in the paper as a sound measure for countering hate speech: "Hatred leads to more hatred, and sooner or later to major changes in society - or even in the world order. Hatred against certain groups of people has resulted in military conflicts and genocides. For that reason people in Europe have been trying to make hate speech subject to legal regulation for years. In Estonia inciting hatred is banned by the constitution. ... Up until last year, however, hardly any use had been made of the articles in the Penal Code regarding the offence of inciting hatred. Now the situation has changed and attention has been brought to weak points which had previously gone unnoticed because the law was so seldom applied." (04/01/2016)

Göteborgs-Posten - Sweden

Swedish state shouldn't bully media

According to reports in the media the democracy report compiled by the statistics agency Swedish Statistics that is due to be published shortly contains a proposal that media source criticism be taught in schools. The liberal daily Göteborgs-Posten thinks little of the idea: "There is the risk that school lessons in source criticism would degenerate into the pure categorisation of information sources. … That would be precisely the opposite of an academic approach in which the arguments themselves are evaluated. … This newly awakened interest of the state in the media is worrying. Another study advises making state subsidies for press organs contingent on quality and democratic content. Money would therefore depend on content. In the long term such rules could have a devastating impact. State scrutiny is no guarantee for free and independent media." (04/01/2016)

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