Press review | 07/07/2015



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Merkel and Hollande demand ideas from Athens

Hollande wanted a quick deal on a new bailout programme after the referendum, while Merkel said she saw no basis for it. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande have called on Athens to present a plan for financing Greece. The two leaders met on Monday to discuss their strategy for today's special Eurozone summit. Europe now has the chance to abandon its neoliberal austerity policy, some commentators write. Others point out that the costs of a Greek debt write-down would weigh heavily on all the countries of the monetary union.

La Vanguardia - Spain

"OXI" will save all Europe

All Europe can benefit from the no in the Greek referendum, the conservative daily La Vanguardia believes: "Ironically, even though the creditors still don't seem to have understood it, the no vote could save the euro, save Greece and possibly save Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland. How come? Because now that he has the guaranteed support of his people Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras can negotiate a reasonable agreement. And after seeing that Tsipras can't be toppled or avoided Chancellor Angela Merkel, President François Hollande and their allies now realise that they have to negotiate a reasonable agreement if they want to save the euro, and perhaps even the European Union." (07/07/2015)

Le Courrier - Switzerland

Greferendum forces EU to rethink strategy

With the no in the Greek referendum the EU has started to free itself of its neoliberal straitjacket, the Christian-social daily Le Courrier hopes: "Thanks to the courage of Alexis Tsipras and his fellow Greeks, the people once more have a foot in Europe's door. Will the Union make use of this historic opportunity? And the - perhaps unique - opportunity to restore meaning to the concept of European solidarity? Are the defenders of Europe so blind that they can't see that the top-down instrumentalisation of the Brussels institutions to impose a neoliberal agenda does more harm to the European ideal than the moaning and groaning of [Ukip leader] Nigel Farage or [FN leader] Marine Le Pen? One thing is clear: the scenario of a reorientation of the EU is highly unlikely after this referendum. … Nevertheless it is to be hoped that the Greeks' determination and dignity will open the eyes of the least naive partisans of European construction." (07/07/2015)

Página 12 - Argentina

Global perspectives: Southern Europe's new power

After the no from Greece a new coalition against the centre of power in the north can now form in southern Europe, economist Alfredo Serrano Mancilla writes in the centre-left Argentinian daily Página 12: "The European periphery is rebelling against its centre of gravity in the same way that many other countries belonging to the so-called global periphery have been doing for some years now. The difference is that the rebellious state is integrated into one of the global epicentres, the Eurozone. … Greece has opened the doors not to leave Europe, but for Europe to really become Europe and not just a euphemism that serves as a disguise for the great transeuropean capital. This change of era in Europe initiated by Greece presents a historic opportunity for the south to step out of its peripheral role." (07/07/2015)

Die Presse - Austria

Syriza fails in fight against austerity

The Syriza government's efforts to fundamentally shift the political coordinates in the EU are doomed to failure, the liberal-conservative daily Die Presse concludes: "The leadership of the extreme left-wing party is spreading the perception that Greece can change the European Union's capitalist economic and fiscal system, which has reached its limits, all on its own. That's a pretty big illusion. He who is standing on the edge of the precipice with a mountain of unsolved problems doesn't have the option of bringing about a change of system. Syriza can't even do this in its own country, where the gap between poor and rich is growing, where week after week the prosperous are sending billions abroad while pensioners have to make do with 120 euros per week. Nothing has become any fairer so far. Nothing has improved." (07/07/2015)

Právo - Czech Republic

Athens doesn't have exclusive rights to democracy

The Euro Group must not allow itself to be blackmailed into a debt cut by Greece, the left-leaning daily Právo warns: "Democracy can't be blackmailed, Tsipras proclaimed triumphantly after the referendum. But nor can the democracies in Germany, Slovakia or Latvia be forced to write off billions in debt without the approval of the people. The other countries of the Eurozone have the right to say whether they want to play along with the Greek game or not. … For the Eastern Europeans, the threat of holding their own referendums could be a means to force their rich, powerful neighbours to assume the full financial consequences of a massive debt write-down. After all, the policies that have got us into this mess weren't thought up in Bratislava, Llubljana or Vilnius." (07/07/2015)


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Público - Portugal

Greek crisis: New finance minister a symbol of peace

Greece's finance minister Yanis Varoufakis resigned just a few hours after the end of the referendum, to be replaced by Euclid Tsakalotos, an Oxford-educated economist. With this gesture Athens is signalling its willingness to negotiate, notes the liberal daily Público: "Varoufakis raised the level of hostility considerably. It was a sensible decision by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to sit the more prudent and discreet Tsakalotos at the negotiating table. … But Tsakalotos and Varoufakis have many things in common: they may have very different personalities but as regards ideology they share the same vision and the same loathing for austerity terms. … The door to negotiations remained open, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday after a meeting with the French President. Now Tsipras will go through that door - and not just with a new finance minister but also with renewed legitimacy after the unequivocal no in the referendum." (06/07/2015)

Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

IS terror necessitates atomic agreement with Iran

In Vienna the nuclear talks with Iran have entered a crucial phase. An agreement between Iran and the 5+1 group is expected to be in place by Wednesday. The changing situation in global politics is making a deal possible, the liberal business paper Il Sole 24 Ore explains: "In the Arab Levant, states like Syria, Iraq and Yemen are breaking up, while in North Africa the IS-inspired attacks are multiplying. In this dramatic moment the Shiite Iran and its allies, from Hizbollah to Bashar al-Assad to the government in Baghdad and the Kurds, are forming the strongest front against the Sunni jihadists. An agreement could be the starting point for the West to resolve the complex situation in the Middle East. … As far as the Europeans - shaken by the Greek crisis - are concerned, in Vienna the opinion has prevailed that Iran could now be an opportunity rather than a threat, both in political and in business terms." (07/07/2015)

Savon Sanomat - Finland

EU fails to back Finland on Russia sanction

Russia is not present at the parliamentary meeting of the OSCE currently underway in Helsinki. Finland denied entry to the members of the Russian delegation because their names appear on the EU sanction list. However the other EU states failed to back the action, President Sauli Niinistö criticised on Monday. Finland is now left with the blame, the liberal daily Savon Sanomat complains: "It is clear that the Russians on the EU sanction list were not selected at random for the OSCE delegation. Russia wanted to provoke the EU to see how Finland would deal with this unpleasant situation. After Finland's very awkward conduct, Russia has now threatend with reprisals [against it]. The EU model pupil is now forced once again to take a good look in the mirror. It's not a good signal from Europe that the EU partners are washing their hands in innocence. Finland should have a better grasp of the political game." (07/07/2015)

De Volkskrant - Netherlands

UN tribunal on MH17 would be useless

The Netherlands has asked the UN Security Council to appoint a UN tribunal to deal with the shooting down of flight MH 17. The centre-left daily De Volkskrant believes the request won't go anywhere and appeals for alternatives: "Why has the government chosen to act via the UN? Probably above all because this would be an easy way to sidestep legal obstacles. A UN resolution can force states - like Russia - to cooperate with the investigations. … But does this really require a full-blown UN tribunal? Not at all. In the last 20 years diverse 'hybrid' courts have been set up, like those on Sierra Leone, Lebanon, Cambodia and Lockerbie. A combination of national and foreign judges from different legal systems would be conceivable. The role of the UN can also vary. … However the Russian 'nyet' is an important factor. Any resolution by the UN Security Council can be slapped with a Russian veto." (07/07/2015)

Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

Germany has no right to criticise Serbia

Using the hashtag #7000, human rights activists in Belgrade are calling for a show of solidarity with the victims of the Srebrenica massacre on July 11. Criticism from Germany of this manner of coming to terms with the past is uncalled for, the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: "If Europe looks at the Balkans at all, it's with impatience. Why is the peace process in the former Yugoslavia so tough? There's something arrogant about this impatience, particularly coming from Germany, which took decades to break its silence on the crimes of WWII. In Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina there's no economic miracle to soften the memories of war. ... The question of whether someone is a Serb, Bosnian or Croat determines not only the past, but also today's reality in schools and government authorities. In such a climate the dead aren't just mourned, they remain a political sore point." (07/07/2015)

Blog Mozgástér - Hungary

Syriza and Podemos irritate social democrats

For Europe's established social democratic parties the new "leftist" parties like Syriza and Podemos are a bane which they don't know how to handle, political analyst Béla Galló writes on the blog portal Mozgástér: "These days in Europe new parties and movements are entering the scene whose discourse focuses on the unresolved problems that are causing major tensions in society. Some of them are left-wing and some of them are right-wing but they transcend the boundaries of the classic left-right dichotomy. The traditional centre parties are having major problems providing answers to these new forces; they have confined themselves to simply acknowledging their enormous growth potential. The European social democrats in particular are irritated by the new left because the very existence and the success of Greece's Syriza and Spain's Podemos confronts them with their own capital-conform impotence." (06/07/2015)


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The New York Times - U.S.

Greek crisis: Athens' bankruptcy costly for Europe

The political and economic consequences of a Greek bankruptcy would be more costly for the rest of Europe than a new bailout programme for Athens, warns the liberal daily The New York Times: "If they refuse the Greek government's demands and cut off funds, the Greek banking system will collapse and the country will no longer be part of the eurozone, sending a signal that the European Union is deeply fragile. Greece would sidle closer to a hostile Russia. A modern European democracy - indeed, the original democracy - could well collapse into something chaotic and unstable. Oh, and all this may end up costing the rest of Europe more money than even the most generous of bailouts, as Greece would default on its obligations outright rather than merely restructure them." (06/07/2015)

La Tribune - France

Greek crisis: the ECB's dangerous game

The ECB announced on Monday that it would maintain the so-called Ela emergency loan programme for Greek banks at its current level, while tightening the corresponding security requirements. This tactic threatens to spiral out of control, the liberal business paper La Tribune warns: "In truth the ECB's position is highly political. If the Greek banks are solvent they must receive funding to remain that way. If they're not, the Ela assistance must be stopped. But the ECB doesn't want to pull the trigger, and so shies away from putting an end to the Ela emergency loans. At the same time it wants to reach an agreement that will force the Greek government to back down, so as to spare the creditors. Which is why it's now upping the pressure on the Greek government to subscribe to the creditors' demands. But in doing so it has put Greece in a financially risky situation that could end up backfiring. A dangerous tightrope walk." (06/07/2015)

Verslo žinios - Lithuania

Lithuania's dairy market regulations are risky

Lithuanian producers of dairy products are obliged to primarily use milk from Lithuania since the end of June. Verslo žinios business paper finds this new regulation questionable: "This law has given fresh fuel to the ongoing dispute between two parties, the dairy farmers and the dairy product manufacturers. The former hope the limitations will raise the milk prices and ease the competition with milk supplies from Latvia and Estonia. The second are irritated because the new restrictions make their work harder. … It's true that they mean the market is more regulated, but it is entirely possible that they will provoke unpleasant questions from the European Commission. … The market must be regulated, but in a way that keeps the sheep unharmed, the wolf satisfied and Brussels calm." (07/07/2015)


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Õhtuleht - Estonia

Freedom of Panorama must be preserved

The European Parliament will vote on Wednesday on a copyright reform law that foresees restrictions on the photographing of buildings and other public objects and the publishing of such photographs. Photographer Kaupo Kikkas vents his anger in the daily Õhtuleht: "Although the legal discussion focuses on social use of the photos, this legislation affects us all in a very personal way. Sticking to the letter of the law, once it is passed we won't be able to post on Facebook or anywhere else any photos of buildings whose architect hasn't been dead for at least 70 years. ... It's incredible that in an era in which we continually extol the freedom of competition, the freedom of thought and the freedom of expression, people are now trying to push through on the quiet such backward legislation that only serves the interests of a small group of people. It belongs in the dustbin of history." (07/07/2015)

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