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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 06/01/2016



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Paris commemorates Charlie Hebdo victims

Many people placed flowers, flags and posters at the Place de la République in Paris. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


The victims of the attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the hostage taking in a Jewish supermarket were commemorated in Paris on Tuesday. A year after the attacks France's politicians have still done nothing to tackle the roots of the terror, some commentators complain. For others, fear-driven self-censorship is threatening freedom of opinion.

Le Figaro - France

Anti-terrorist campaign only halfhearted

France should have been fighting terrorism more effectively long before the attacks on Charlie Hebdo - namely ever since the Islamist attacks in Toulouse and Montauban in March 2012, the conservative daily Le Figaro criticises: "The Islamists who carried out the attacks in Paris and decapitated a CEO near Lyon in 2015 were brothers in hate and murder of [Toulouse attacker] Mohamed Merah. Since 2012 it has been clear that Merah started a new chapter in the history of terrorism. Not that of lone wolves and lost souls, but of organised networks which include domestic enemies. For years laxity in schools and migrant neighbourhoods, unchecked immigration, a refusal to face the rise of radical Islamism and the abandonment of our Judeo-Christian values have allowed them to develop and thrive. In this war declared by the jihadists there is no such thing as zero risk. But if France wants to stand firm it must stop disavowing itself." (05/01/2016)

Südostschweiz - Switzerland

France remains a jihad factory

France still isn't addressing the root causes of Islamist violence, the daily newspaper Südostschweiz comments: "You can sense that neither the government nor the opposition have any real desire to tackle the problem of the banlieue ghettos that have already produced more than a thousand Syrian fighters and dozens of terrorists. Because in those areas where more than 40 percent of the population is unemployed the Salafists have no problems recruiting followers. And in ex-French colonies like Mali Hollande is neglecting the political fight against the causes after hunting the Islamists out of the country through military means. A new storm is brewing there. Demographer Emmanuel Todd has bluntly referred to France as a 'jihad factory'. And until a social and economic policy is found to address the problem any police work, not matter how difficult, will be a never-ending task. And 2015 won't be the last annus horribilis for France." (06/01/2016)

The Irish Independent - Ireland

Society censoring itself

Society lost the courage to freely express its opinions after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the conservative daily Irish Independent contends: "Some beliefs deserve to be mocked and if the believers are outraged, that's their problem. The problem of living in a liberal democracy is that there is little appetite for aggressively defending the right to offend. We would rather sit idly by and allow the narrative to be controlled by lunatics than be accused of the greatest secular sin imaginable - racism, or its idiot cousin, Islamophobia. No good could ever have come from the atrocity in Paris 12 months ago, but it should be a cause of genuine despair that we have actually retreated from the values we pretended to espouse in the wake of the massacre. And on that level alone, it proves that ... the terrorists have won." (06/01/2016)


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Avvenire - Italy

A spark could set whole Middle East on fire

In the current dispute between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Bahrain, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have joined the Saudis in recalling their ambassadors from Tehran. If Moscow and Washington don't start mediating now the terrorist Islamic State will emerge as the winner of the conflict, the Catholic daily Avvenire warns: "The result will be the formation of a Sunni axis led by Riyadh, Turkey and Qatar, openly supported by the US and discreetly endorsed by Israel. The Shiite axis will consist of Iran, Syria, the Hezbollah group in Lebanon and the Houthi rebels in Yemen, with the military and political backing of Putin's Russia. A spark will be enough to set the whole region on fire. The only one who will benefit from this chaos which threatens to finally trigger a major war in the Middle East is al-Baghdadi, the leader of the IS. This fact alone should prompt the US and Russia to reflect on their course. They are the only ones who can defuse the crisis." (06/01/2016)

The Guardian - United Kingdom

Öresund ID checks destroy vision

The reintroduction of passport controls for people travelling to Sweden from Denmark comes as a major blow to the European Union, the centre-left daily The Guardian rails: "The Öresund region, which straddles Sweden and Denmark, has been lauded the world over as a successful example of how businesses, civil society and people can integrate across national and cultural divides. Education, business, work and love have made the region fuse. With ID checks, this vision and reality will effectively be sabotaged. … It's absurd to think that, all of a sudden, the clock has been turned back to an era when Europe didn't exist, and that the isolation of nations is seen as a logical and pragmatic alternative. A borderless Europe cannot be a dream reserved for times of perfect peace." (05/01/2016)

Népszabadság - Hungary

EPP should not criticise PiS

Even though Poland's national-conservative ruling party PiS has curtailed the Constitutional Tribunal's powers and put the public service media on a tight leash it would be a bad idea for the conservative EPP group in the European Parliament to criticise it, writes the left-liberal daily Népszabadság: "The PiS is making no bones about the fact that it is copying [Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor] Orbán. We can be sure that Orbán won't object to such comparisons. On the contrary he will say that the Poles have decided that their national sovereignty must be respected. It would be a tragicomedy if the EPP were to criticise the PiS, which isn't a member of the EPP, because then it would have to explain why it has always defended Orbán. That would close the circle and make it glaringly obvious that democracy is nothing but an empty phrase nowadays." (05/01/2016)

Les Echos - France

Hollande's symbolic policies cause for despair

France's National Assembly wants to discuss the planned constitutional reform at the end of February and have it passed by a joint meeting of both houses of parliament in March or April. President François Hollande's priorities are incomprehensible, the liberal business paper Les Echos criticises: "It seems that the fight against unemployment is no more than a tiresome formality for the head of state. He seems far more preoccupied with something else at the start of the year: namely the symbolic move of withdrawing the citizenship of terrorists. As this simple measure is as symbolic as it is anecdotal, it could serve as a catalyst for national unity. Consequently it was decided that it should be enshrined in the constitution rather than passed as a law, and that its passing should be accompanied by a long and tough debate so as to further divide the enemy camp. The upshot: we are set for two months of diversionary measures that will make the French despair at their politicians." (05/01/2016)

La Vanguardia - Spain

Only new elections can rid Catalonia of chaos

The deadline for the election of a new president in Catalonia expires on Sunday, making a repetition of the regional elections increasingly likely. The conservative daily La Vanguardia is relieved: "With this stalemate situation in Catalonia any alternative to the ballots would only lead to an absurd, ungovernable and extremely painful situation that would culminate in new elections anyway in a few months' time. In a society that talks so much about sovereignty it would be better if the citizens are the ones who decide, independently, how to get out of the vicious circle they are trapped in. It is possible that the way out of the mess in Spanish politics that the elections of December 20 produced will be the same, but we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves. The Congress of Deputies in Spain has another two months, whereas the parliament in Catalonia has already run out of time." (06/01/2016)

Hürriyet Daily News - Turkey

Greek Cypriots must admit their mistakes

The efforts of the president of the non-recognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Mustafa Akıncı, to establish peace are laudable but he should be careful not to make too many concessions, Cyprus-born columnist Yusuf Kanlı warns in the liberal Hürriyet Daily News: "Empathizing with the opponent was right, but it was none of [Akıncı's] business to adjust his positions in accordance with Greek Cypriot expectations or hopes. The Greek Cypriot expectations have been clear right from the first day they brought down the partnership state of Cyprus Republic with violent attacks on Turkish Cypriots in December 1963. Unless Greek Cypriots accept and confess what great mistakes they committed against Turkish Cypriots and how they made the partnership state collapse because of their Pan-Hellenic dream of union with Greece, it will be impossible to build a new partnership based on mutual confidence." (06/01/2016)


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Pohjalainen - Finland

China no longer makes investors panic

The Chinese CSI 300 stock index dropped by seven percent on Monday. Thanks to the cool-headedness of investors share prices on stock markets around the world didn't drop as dramatically as they did last summer, the liberal daily Pohjalainen writes: "The rest of the world was nowhere near as alarmed as it was in August. In Finland too, share prices fell by just two to three percent, whereas at the end of last summer they plummeted by five to ten percent. Finnish investors have understood that nothing drastic will happen to companies' earnings overnight, and that there's no threat of a crash just because dramatic things are happening in China. ... Nevertheless, the developments in China are being closely followed and its moderate growth rate is already being factored into stock prices." (06/01/2016)

De Standaard - Belgium

Belgium's rail unions will be derailed

Belgium's rail unions will strike for two days starting this Wednesday. The unions should finally realise that without the customers' solidarity they only stand to lose, the liberal daily De Standaard comments: "Once this unnecessary and self-destructive strike ends the representatives of the railway workers will be far worse off than before. The repercussions will be serious, also for the wage negotiations. … Public support for the railway operator's pragmatic stance has increased markedly. … For years the unions have ignored the criticism of passengers and society every time they resorted to industrial action. They believed they were invulnerable. This strike will mark the end of that period of conceitedness." (06/01/2016)


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Berlingske - Denmark

Museums should not whitewash history

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has renamed works of art whose titles contained terms like "negro", "dwarf" and "Indian". The centre-right daily Berlingske warns against misrepresenting history: "The problem isn't that the museum is distancing itself from insulting terms as such. Of course not. But it is a problem when real or presumed insults are no longer seen in their historical context, and are instead styled as absolute statements which for that reason must be apologised for, hidden and eliminated. Once you've started down that path you change history retrospectively. If we allow history to be treated this way we will start to resemble a society that we would otherwise oppose. Rather than accepting history for what it is, we would be whitewashing it. And that would really be a catastrophe." (05/01/2016)


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Der Tagesspiegel - Germany

Attacks in Cologne fuel anger

A large number of women were robbed and sexually molested by groups of men on New Year's Eve in Cologne and other German cities. The police have received complaints from more than 90 women who all claim that the perpetrators were of Arab or North African descent. But blanket judgements should be avoided, the centre-right daily Der Tagespiegel warns: "This is the worst-case scenario right-wing circles have been waiting for. What happened in Cologne and elsewhere on New Year's Eve could dangerously fuel the anger at refugees, and even poison relations with long-standing immigrant communities. ... Of course there are machos - and even violent one - among the migrants. And some refugees come from a culture where women are not very respected. But for one thing the identities of the thieves and gropers in Cologne are still unknown. And for another, even immigrants are not a homogeneous group. Blanket condemnations are just as unhelpful as blanket commendations." (06/01/2016)

De Volkskrant - Netherlands

Asylum seekers in the Netherlands need work

The refugees' forced inactivity will turn them into the new social underclass in the Netherlands, a current study concludes. The centre-left daily De Volkskrant calls for their rapid integration into the job market: "To prevent a social drama the Netherlands must do everything possible to make asylum seekers resilient, to educate them as well as possible and to give them the best possible chance of finding work. Independent reefugees are not just a boon for Dutch society but according to the study they are more likely to consider returning to their home country once the situation there has calmed down. But right now a lot of valuable time is being wasted. … Life shouldn't be made too pleasant for asylum seekers because that could raise false expectations and encourage others to come to the Netherlands, people say. This is a mistaken way of thinking that will only aggravate the problem." (06/01/2016)

Kathimerini - Greece

The invisible peace sign of Lesbos

Last week activists created a huge peace sign on the Greek island of Lesbos using around 3,000 life jackets left behind by refugees. But Europe's politicians won't get the point, columnist Pantelis Boukala fears in the conservative daily Kathimerini: "The ongoing shortsightedness plaguing the European Union does not allow for much optimism when it comes to its leaders seeing the Lesbos sign in time. And even if they do see it, its meaning will be lost in translation, although it is one of the few universally recognized symbols. They might even say it's one more Greek trick. ... Unfortunately for the so-called united Europe, the bigger the problems it faces, the smaller the caliber of those determining its fate turns out to be. Above all, this is true on the spiritual level, the only one capable of giving a new meaning to the worn-out, no longer credible 'European vision'." (05/01/2016)

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