Please note:
You are in the euro|topics archive. For current articles from the European press review, please go to

Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 07/01/2016



  » open

Assaults in Cologne: police looking for culprits

Four suspects have been identified so far, according to the police. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


The police in Cologne have received more than 100 complaints from women who claim to have been robbed and sexually assaulted by men of "Arab or North African appearance" on New Year's Eve. Some commentators blame German Chancellor Merkel's liberal immigration policy for the attacks. For others the sudden rush of concern about women's safety is just a cover for racism.

Novinar - Bulgaria

Merkel to blame for assaults

The sexual assaults against women on New Year's Eve are a consequence of Germany's liberal refugee policy, the daily Novinar writes: "No woman deserves to become the quarry of Africans and Arabs. But was it not a woman who opened the hunting season? Angela Merkel has become the symbol of liberal naivety. She can't understand that her 'Welcome Refugees' song ends badly. ... We must avoid inciting hatred against refugees, we must carefully weigh our words and not insult the African and Arab men who are seeking a better life, people are saying. If that is really the case then we should buy flowers for our women, get down on our knees and say: 'We're sorry that in these hard times you have to live together with such men in Europe.' But if our women have their hearts in the right place they'll never forgive us as long as we don't first clean up our own back yards." (06/01/2016)

Jyllands-Posten - Denmark

Dangerous men from foreign cultures

The incidents on New Year's Eve in Cologne are a sign of failed integration, writes the liberal-conservative daily Jyllands-Posten, drawing parallels with Denmark: "There's no telling whether the events in Cologne are just a foretaste of what we can expect here in Denmark too, but they don't bode well because here too for many years we have kept the door open for many people who behave very differently from what we deem proper. And here too, there are fears that the problems are being hushed up. But the situation can be remedied. Masses of frustrated young men from foreign cultures, many of which glorify violence, are in our midst. This is the reality which the authorities and the population must face, and an entire generation of leading politicians must admit that they are also to blame for the current situation." (07/01/2016)

Spiegel Online - Germany

Concern for women just covert racism

The calls, mainly on social networks, for people to travel to Cologne to protect women after the assaults there are a sham, writes blogger Sascha Lobo on the Spiegel Online website: "It is instrumental racism when the very same people who the rest of the time tell women to button up suddenly start making a big deal about women's rights now. The sudden surge of interest in women's rights is a flimsy show of concern aimed at legitimising their own racism. The trivialisation of sexual violence is ubiquitous and deeply embedded in our society and culture - yes, in German culture too. The attacks against women by gangs of men in Cologne provide a very fitting opportunity to face this fact and find out why a large proportion of the German public cares so little about sexual violence - except when it is perpetrated by 'North-African or Arab-looking men'." (06/01/2016)

Kurier - Austria

Society trivialises sexual assaults

The large number of incidents of sexual harassment and assault in Cologne on New Year's Eve shed light on a long-neglected problem, the liberal daily Kurier writes. "Whereas in America awareness of 'street harassment' is slowly growing, in German-speaking countries there still isn't even an appropriate term to describe it. Harassment? That still depends too much on the observer's point of view. And where there's no term for a problem, there's no problem at all - or at least no awareness of it. For example consider the debate here in Austria about the so-called bum-pinching paragraph [paragraph 128 of the Austrian penal code], which shows that even today there is still no social consensus that this constitutes sexual harassment and consequently a criminal offence. And perhaps that also explains why it took the police in Cologne so long to detect a problem at all. ... Women have to accept that things like that can happen: why else are self-defence courses for girls now practically part of the school curriculum? Why else has it become normal for parents to enrol their daughters in such courses? Because it would be irresponsible and perhaps even perilous not to. That is our Western reality." (07/01/2016)


  » open
Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

China will go on protecting North Korea

North Korea announced on Wednesday that it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. The US and South Korea had threatened the regime with serious consequences. Beijing will nonetheless continue to support Pyongyang, the liberal-conservative Neue Zürcher Zeitung believes: "The patience of the Chinese has been sorely tested; they can't be happy about having a neighbour who explodes nuclear bombs without warning either. On top of that is the fact that China's relations with Pyongyang, which until recently were almost friendly, have cooled. So far Beijing has been willing to pay a high price for the security risk in its neighbouring state because it wants to prevent the collapse of North Korea at any cost. Because if that happened it would give the Americans, South Korea's closest allies, the chance to expand their zone of influence in the region - right up to the Chinese border. … So it's very likely that Beijing will once again swallow the bitter pill - and this highly dangerous game will enter its next round." (07/01/2016)

Corriere della Sera - Italy

The world lost track of Kim Jong-un

The West has grossly underestimated the threat North Korea poses, the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera warns: "Under the US's leadership the international community has focussed on bringing Iran's nuclear programme under control, which according to Tehran was solely for civilian purposes anyway. In the meantime Pyongyang has upgraded its weapons and now has over 20 nuclear bombs in its arsenal, according to Chinese sources. But unlike the government in Tehran Kim Jong-un has said at every opportunity that he wants to raze America's cities and perhaps also Seoul and Tokyo to the ground with his weapons of mass destruction. And while we can safely rule out the possibility that the Iranian theocracy wants to commit suicide with the nuclear weapon by risking a retaliatory strike that would erase all its cities from the map, Kim Jong-un seems driven by a self-destructive impulse that isn't directed at himself but at his country." (07/01/2016)

The Independent - United Kingdom

Cameron's latest move makes Brexit more likely

British Prime Minister David Cameron announced on Tuesday that he is leaving it to the members of his cabinet to decide for themselves whether to campaign for or against leaving the EU ahead of the Brexit referendum. This strengthens the EU opponents' hand, the centre-left daily The Independent criticises: "Mr Cameron has weakened his own position by letting it be known that he will leave Downing Street soon after the referendum, whatever the outcome. ... Even if the country votes to stay in the EU, as hopefully it will, a majority of paid-up Conservative Party members may vote against, making it likely that the next Conservative leader will be someone from that side of the argument. That thought might be enough to tempt Theresa May or Boris Johnson to add their considerable weight to the Out campaign." (06/01/2016)

Sabah - Turkey

Turkish Kurds really do want their own state

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on the weekend for the lifting of the immunity of the co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish HDP party, Selahattin Demirtaş. Demirtaş has been under criminal investigation after stating several weeks ago that he believes a Kurdish state could see the light in the next century. The Kurds' true goals are now becoming clear, the pro-government daily Sabah warns: "The HDP members of parliament never tire of announcing to the press that self-government is very democratic and should be implemented. ... With this self-government discourse the PKK is continuing its separatist agenda and using the HDP as its tool to that end. The PKK and HDP are behaving as if separation were a possibility. ... They are once again trying to advance hand in hand. With their pretty self-government fairy tales they are trying to shore up their ideology of division. Utmost caution is called for!" (07/01/2016)

Novi list - Croatia

Croatia's "reformers" just hardcore conservatives

Approximately two months after the parliamentary elections in Croatia the dispute over the formation of a government is still ongoing. The liberal election alliance Most, which emerged as the third-strongest party and kingmaker, has turned out to be a bunch of radical conservatives, complains the centre-left daily Novi list: "In the negotiations with the conservative HDZ the mini-party Most is fiercely insisting that it be given control of the security apparatus. Until recently we saw it as a group of nice boys, naïve and full of reform zeal. A kind of HDZ 'light', as the decision to name the non-partisan entrepreneur Tim Orešković as prime minister-designate was designed to demonstrate. But now they want to manipulate the police, the intelligence services and the judiciary, and this is making their ties to the nationalist secret service structures of the war years in the 1990s increasingly obvious. Most is a 'hardcore' version of the HDZ and the whole thing stinks to high heaven already." (07/01/2016)


  » open
El País - Spain

Ian Bremmer laments weakening of US-Europe alliance

The weakening of the alliance between the US and Europe will become increasingly apparent in 2016, comments political scientist Ian Bremmer in the centre-left daily El País: "The divisions between the US and Europe will be apparent this year on the issues of Ukraine and Syria. The US will stick to its principles: it will insist on maintaining the sanctions against Russia until Ukraine frees itself from Putin and on al-Assad's departure. The Europeans, who are suffering the direct consequences of these two situations, will opt for pragmatism. The EU will no doubt relax the sanctions against Russia and pick out its enemies in Syria one by one. The loss of substance in transatlantic relations will also mean that in the future it won't matter that the United States and Europe have more in common with each other than with China; the economic realities will weigh more than shared values. This is a pity for an alliance that, despite all its defects, has contributed more than any other to promoting democracy, freedom of expression and the rule of law." (07/01/2016)


  » open
Diário Económico - Portugal

The downside of record-low oil prices

Oil prices are still dropping despite the escalating crisis between the oil-producing states Saudi Arabia and Iran. The consumers and companies who are delighted with this trend today will pay a heavy price for it tomorrow, the liberal business daily Diário Económico predicts: "In July 2008 the price of oil reached a record high: 146.08 dollars per barrel of North Sea Brent Crude. After this historical high no one could have imagined that it would drop to the current 34.26 dollars per barrel. … Right now the consumers and companies are delighted. … But if you take a closer look at the situation you see that there are many companies that export to oil-producing nations like Angola and Brazil which are experiencing major financial problems and strategic insecurity right now. Unemployment and bankruptcies will hit those who are not in a position to adapt quickly to these new circumstances." (07/01/2016)

Göteborgs-Posten - Sweden

Create mini-jobs for refugees in Sweden

Sweden took in more refugees per capita than any other EU country last year. The German model of mini-jobs would be a good way to provide these often underqualified workers with employment, the liberal daily Göteborgs-Posten believes: "One possibility would be to introduce mini-jobs that you can do without losing benefits. That way the incentive to work wouldn't be curbed because it means losing out on benefits. State support payments could be reduced as soon as the employee gets a job that is sufficiently well paid. Would mini-jobs also work in Sweden? How good is the German model in comparison with other alternatives? The best thing would be for the government to follow the recommendation of the Fiscal Policy Council and set up a crisis commission. It should ascertain how integration can be improved and a low-wage sector created. Sweden cannot afford to have a growing number of people remain outside the workforce." (07/01/2016)


  » open
Adevârul - Romania

Why Romanians love conspiracy theories

Rumours have been circulating for weeks In the social networks that the Romanian President Klaus Iohannis "ordered" the disastrous fire in the Bucharest nightclub Colectiv at the end of October. The fire sparked massive popular protests and a change of government. Media expert Doru Pop wonders on his blog for the conservative daily Adevărul why Romanians are so fond of such conspiracy theories: "The Romanians are always quick to see a historic conspiracy behind events. Even Nicolae Ceauşescu was supposedly toppled by 'agents'. Such conspiracy theories are always an expression of a society's irrationality. ... Moreover, we Romanians have a weakness for superstitions, mysticism, magical explanations and exaggerated justifications for anything and everything. A primitive nation that still believes in magic and fortune-telling can easily be duped. And the people let themselves be taken in because they need an explanation for everything - even things that are simply unpredictable and unfathomable." (06/01/2016)


  » open
Charlie Hebdo - France

Charlie Hebdo here with a vengeance

On the first anniversary of the terrorist attack on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, Laurent "Riss" Sourisseau, survivor of the shooting and new editor-in-chief, describes where the publication gets the energy to go on: "Everything we've experienced in the past 23 years gives us the anger we need. Never have we had so strong a will to kick the asses of all those who dreamed they could stop us in our tracks. Two little jerks in balaclavas aren't about to destroy our lives' work and all the wonderful moments we've had with those who were killed. They're not going to see the end of Charlie: Charlie will see the end of them. 2015 was the worst year in the history of Charlie Hebdo, because it forced us to put our convictions to the test: the worst torment for an op-ed newspaper. Would those convictions be strong enough to give us the energy to get back on our feet? You have the answer in your hands. The convictions of atheists and people with secularist views can move even more mountains than the faith of believers." (06/01/2016)

Proto Thema - Greece

Greeks fed up with Tsipras's lies

A newspaper that published a major interview with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on the weekend didn't sell well at newsstands across the country. That's because people are no longer interested in what the leader has to say, the liberal weekly paper Proto Thema believes: "Very few copies of the newspaper that published the interview with Tsipras were sold. Something similar happened with the viewer numbers of the state-run television channel ERT when it broadcast an interview with Tsipras a month ago. ... Only a few months ago even the news that a media outlet would publish an interview with the prime minister would have caused a sensation in the world of journalism. ... Clearly the impact of the monstrous lies the government stuffed down the people's throats is making itself felt." (07/01/2016)

Other content