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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 12/01/2016

 

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How should Germany react to Cologne?

The square in front of Cologne Cathedral on New Year's Eve. The police have now received over 500 complaints in connection with the attacks. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

Twelve days into the new year the debate over the right response to the attacks in Cologne continues. Some warn that the left in particular should no longer ignore the people's fears. Others call for German Chancellor Angela Merkel to resign and believe Germany will have to abandon its values so as not to endanger Europe.

The Independent - United Kingdom

Government should focus on its citizens now

To prevent the attacks in Cologne from leading to a shift to the right the German left must be more open to people's fears, the centre-left daily The Independent believes: "Even if the far-right is using the Cologne attacks for their agenda, it doesn't mean ordinary people don't have legitimate concerns. It isn't enough to say that German women faced sexual assault from white German men too, one doesn't excuse the other. … If the Left ignores the concerns of ordinary Germans after the Cologne attacks, that would be far worse for everyone, including refugees. It would let the far-right set the agenda and gain more public support. The first priority of any government is the well-being of its citizens, and the German government cannot be blamed if it focuses on that." (11/01/2016)

The New York Times - U.S.

Global perspectives: Germany must give up reckless humanitarianism

The attacks on women on New Year's Eve were nothing less than a warning shot, the liberal daily the New York Times is convinced: "A transformation promises increasing polarization among natives and new arrivals alike. It threatens not just a spike in terrorism but a rebirth of 1930s-style political violence. … This need not happen.  But prudence requires doing everything possible to prevent it. That means closing Germany's borders to new arrivals for the time being. It means beginning an orderly deportation process for able-bodied young men. It means giving up the fond illusion that Germany's past sins can be absolved with a reckless humanitarianism in the present. It means that Angela Merkel must go - so that her country, and the continent it bestrides, can avoid paying too high a price for her high-minded folly." (09/01/2016)

Göteborgs-Posten - Sweden

Do not underestimate cultural differences

The sexual assaults in Cologne on New Year's Eve and similar incidents at music festivals in Sweden are the result of cultural differences regarding the perception of women, the liberal daily Göteborgs-Posten comments: "In many cultures the role of women is severely limited. They are daughters, wives or mothers. The woman is always someone's property. ... This doesn't mean that in these cultures there is no respect for women, but respect goes to women who are in the home, not out of it, and it is reserved for their roles. … Western women who go out without a veil and have fun in the company of men send signals that can be perceived as confusing and provocative. … The cultural clash evident in the different perceptions of relations between men and women should not be underestimated." (12/01/2016)

Blog Katrin Rönicke - Germany

State's mistakes swept under the carpet

In reaction to the events on New Year's Eve in Cologne, Germany's grand coalition wants to tighten legislation on deportation and residency requirements for asylum seekers and those allowed to remain for humanitarian reasons. That is no solution to the problem, blogger Katrin Rönicke believes: "We have laws and regulations, and these must be implemented to ensure peaceful cohabitation in society. But for years society has undermined that process by failing to provide the police with the funds and political instruments it needs for this task. All those who call for new laws as a result, instead of insisting that existing laws should be upheld, and those who in addition call for legislation that deviate from the rule of law, the charter of human rights and the Geneva Refugee Convention, are creating a two-class society: the underfunding of the executive is not being mentioned as a mistake but simply being swept under the carpet, while all the blamed is being pinned on the migrants and refugees." (11/01/2016)

POLITICS

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Pravda - Slovakia

Fico's call for EU summit on Cologne ridiculous

Against the backdrop of the incidents on New Year's Eve Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico, who is campaigning for re-election, called for a special EU summit last week and reiterated his negative stance on Muslim migrants. The left-wing daily Pravda cautions him not to blow the issue out of proportion: "Calling for a special EU summit because of the incidents in Cologne puts you at risk of looking ridiculous. What are they supposed to talk about? The reaction of the Cologne police or the public media's coverage of the incidents? The German media have quietly set aside their false correctness. And the police chief in Cologne has already been fired. … Although no one is demanding that Slovakia take in as many refugees per capita as Germany, our own asylum statistics really don't give us the right to criticise the Germans' mistakes regarding the integration of people from other cultural and religious backgrounds." (12/01/2016)

La Croix - France

Food alone can't save Madaya

A first aid convoy reached the Syrian city of Madaya on Monday. Surrounded by government troops for the past six months, the city's 40,000 residents have long been without food. Images of the starving population have gone around the world in the past week. Providing food must just be the first step, the Catholic daily La Croix urges: "Food is necessary, of course. Essential even. But it's not enough. With their cruel horse trading, the various camps involved in Syria are engaged in a propaganda war which amply demonstrates that only a global peace solution can bring the conflict to an end. The flood of atrocious images testifies to the disastrous human consequences which have already claimed a quarter of a million lives. … The people of Madaya - and all of Syria - deserve more than just a short-term humanitarian effort in response to the pressure exerted by shocking photos." (11/01/2016)

Lrt - Lithuania

Poland's amateurishness bad for all Eastern Europe

According to Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski Warsaw would be willing to agree to limited benefits for EU migrants if additional Nato military bases were to be set up in Poland in return. With its amateurish politics the Polish government is also hurting the interests of other countries, writes the Lithuanian broadcaster LRT on its website: "Warsaw's clumsy politics are not only dangerous for Poland but also for neighbouring countries like Lithuania. … With its slapdash foreign policy statements, provocative behaviour towards Western states and stoking of the domestic political crisis the Polish government will isolate itself to such an extent that the other Nato allies will only communicate with it with utmost reluctance. And instead of acting as an icebreaker for the targets of all the Eastern European Nato member states, Warsaw will become the main obstacle preventing the West from regarding these countries as its own, as full-blown members of the alliance which it is worthwhile to defend." (11/01/2016)

Suomenmaa - Finland

Neutrality promotes stability in the Baltic region

In an article published on Sunday in both Sweden and Finland the prime ministers of the two states, Stefan Löfven and Juha Sipilän, stressed the importance of their countries' policy of neutrality. Suomenmaa, the newspaper of Finland's ruling Centre Party, approves: "According to the article Finland and Sweden's military neutrality is very plausible and contributes to stability and security in northern Europe. This is true and and cannot be repeated often enough. The situation in the Baltic region has not, as is often claimed, changed simply because of the increasing military strength and activities of Russia. It has also naturally been influenced by the expansion of Nato that resulted from the accession of four countries that border on the Baltic. Finland and Sweden's military neutrality has a calming effect on this constellation." (12/01/2016)

REFLECTIONS

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La Repubblica - Italy

Massimo Salvadori argues that the UK has sabotaged the EU right from the outset

The EU has failed and one member state in particular is to blame, writes political scientist Massimo L. Salvadori in the centre-left daily La Repubblica: "I believe it is not wrong to describe the UK's accession to the European Economic Community in 1975 as a strategic error which we are still paying for. Ever since then British politics has been inspired by the idea of sabotaging every attempt to form a common political government for the continent. The EU has grown but it lacks a core group that is strong enough to push the community towards federalism. … This union is more like a non-union: it does not have a common government, a common constitution, a currency that is used by all members, a central bank with the clout of the Federal Reserve, a foreign policy that takes precedent over national interests and it does not have a common defence mechanism. We have reached the point where the EU needs to be re-established. The initiative for this cannot only come from those in government. The citizens are called on now to decide whether they want to be truly European or to retreat into the citizenship of individual member states." (12/01/2016)

Jutarnji list - Croatia

For Miljenko Jergović Muslims are the new Jews

Muslims in Europe are increasingly being pushed into the role of Jews in the fascist states of the 1930s, observes writers Miljenko Jergović in the liberal daily Jutarnji List: "At the start of the 20th century the mayor of Vienna Karl Lueger announced that the Jews from the East represented the biggest threat to our way of living. The word 'Ostjude' [Eastern Jew] became an insult and threat all over Europe. Isn't something similar happening today? Except that this time it's not about the Jews but about Muslims and Arabs? When Muslims attacked defenceless white European women on streets and squares on New Year's Eve, the tabloids immediately proclaimed a new phase of fear and panic. Readers were paralysed with fear without realising that old legends were being revived. One of the legends of the 1920s and 1930s was the tale of Jews attacking respectable Christian women with the goal of dishonouring them. Legends need not be based on facts. They can still bring terrible suffering to communities. They are poison for Europe." (12/01/2016)

ECONOMY

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De Morgen - Belgium

Beligium must collect missing tax revenues

After the EU Commission on Monday ordered Belgium to recover roughly 700 million euros given to businesses in the form of unlawful tax breaks, the centre-left daily De Morgen wonders why the government plans to contest the decision: "Strange. In that case the government shouldn't be surprised if people say the only way it wants to save money is by slashing welfare payments. ... The golden years of tax evasion are over. Thanks to Lux Leaks and other scandals, a growing number of people believe that this form of unfair tax advantage is no longer acceptable. For the very large majority of people who have no choice but to obediently pay their taxes, this is very good news indeed." (12/01/2016)

CULTURE

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Eesti Rahvusringhääling - Estonia

David Bowie helped us deal with growing old

Musician David Bowie died on Sunday at the age of 69. Commenting on the website of the Estonian broadcaster Eesti Rahvusringhääling psychologist Kätlin Konstabel describes him as a role model: "I realised through these two albums [Earthling and Outside] that this is the right way to grow old - one in which the year of birth is just a number in your passport. … Esprit, mental agility and the desire to experiment - why should these things be reserved for the young? Or for so-called artists? And the courage to look life in the eyes? … No, we can't expect everyone to be seriously ill and bring out a chart-topping album when they are on the brink of death - but we should reflect from time to time on ourselves, on our lives and the meaning of life, regardless of how old we are or what we do for a living. We must have the courage to consciously change. Not only in music but also in life." (12/01/2016)

SOCIETY

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eldiario.es - Spain

Princess Cristina sponging her way to acquittal

At the start of the trial of the Noos case on Monday not only Princess Cristina's defence lawyer but also the public prosecutors and the tax authority which is the injured party in the affair have requested that the charges against the sister of King Felipe of Spain be dropped. Isaac Rosa comments incensed in the left-wing website eldiario.es: "Call me resentful if you will but I can't help it: every time I see the infanta in the dock with that expression of innocence on her face I recall that wedding of hers I paid for. … Also to soothe the anger we feel at the thought that on top of that we're now paying her lawyer's fees. If we paid for that huge wedding the lawyer's fees are peanuts by comparison. What, you didn't realise we were paying for her defence? And I'm not talking about her defence lawyer Miquel Roca and his team. I'm talking about the other two lawyers we're all financing: the public prosecutors and the lawyer of the tax authorities. … But never mind, this round is on us too!" (11/01/2016)

Ziare - Romania

Romanian parenting too harsh for Norwegians

The Norwegian authorities revoked a Romanian-Norwegian family's custody of their five children in December. Accused of beating the children, the parents say they merely smacked them every now and then. News website Ziare sees this as a clash of cultures: "Here at home news of children having the living daylights beaten out of them is only the tip of the iceberg. It's not as if we didn't have any laws on the subject. In Romania too, custody is supposed to be revoked in cases of child abuse. The fundamental difference between our laws and the Norwegians' is how they are enforced. ... In the present case you can talk about a clash of cultures. While the Romanians have a saying that 'beating comes from heaven', the Norwegians have no tolerance for any form of abuse." (11/01/2016)

MEDIA

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Hürriyet - Turkey

1990s-style witch hunt in Turkey

Investigations were launched on Monday against the Turkish television station Kanal D after a caller in the popular programme Beyaz Show on Friday demanded more attention be paid to civilian casualties in the Kurdish conflict in the south-east of the country. The conservative daily Hürriyet warns of a witch hunt: "Accusing the presenter of an entertainment show of engaging in propaganda for a terrorist organisation although he has nothing whatsoever to do with it is unacceptable. ... In their fight against terror, some forces in the state are harking back to a trend that follows the state logic of the 1990s. No one can claim that this stance led to success in the past: in this respect the 1990s were both unsuccessful and painful. Trying once again to curtail freedom and gag critical voices will be of no avail." (12/01/2016)

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