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Press review | 28/05/2015

 

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Brussels presents refugee quotas

24,000 refugees in Italy and 16,000 in Greece are to be transferred to other countries. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

The European Commission firmed up its plans for refugee quotas on Wednesday. 40,000 people are to be transferred to other states from Greece and Italy. The opposition of many countries to taking in migrants is selfish, some commentators criticise. Others believe the proposed quotas could overburden smaller countries.

Õhtuleht - Estonia

1000 refugees too much for Estonia

According to the European Commission's proposal Estonia would have to take in more than 1,000 refugees from the Mediterranean area in a year. The tabloid Õhtuleht fears that Estonian society is not ready for this influx: "The number of newcomers amounts to the population of a small town and would pose a challenge to our social welfare system and the sympathy of the people. In solving the refugee problem, provoking new tensions and concerns in the member states should be avoided. Unfortunately the EU Commission's proposal utterly fails to take into account our country's practical ability to take in the refugees. The EU Commission has proposed that Estonia takes 1.76 percent of the refugees, whereas Estonia's population accounts for just 0.26 percent of the EU. The seven times higher refugee quota is proof that Brussels has far higher expectations of our ability to take in the refugees than we do." (28/05/2015)

Večer - Slovenia

Slovenia can cope with a few hundred refugees

Slovenia would have to take in around 700 refugees according to the quota system. The liberal daily Večer sees this as doable: "Whether the Slovenian state can take in 700 refugees is of course a rhetorical question. In the times of the Balkan wars we were able to take in a hundred times that many despite the lower living standards. If the politicians try to tell us now that the current figure is too high for our struggling country, we really should start worrying. The next stage will be that the politicians can't cope with their own citizens. However a few hundred unlucky souls who don't belong to Slovenia's culture and aren't Christians could also provoke a new surge of political nationalism and xenophobia. Slovenia's political culture is far from immune to such sentiment." (28/05/2015)

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

Prague's lack of solidarity on refugee issue

According to the EU Commission's proposal, the Czech Republic should take in just under two thousand refugees. But almost the entire political class in Prague vehemently rejects the idea, the conservative daily Lidové noviny laments: "The parties are saying almost with one voice that quotas are no solution. But unfortunately no one is saying what the solution is supposed to look like. And that in a country that produced exiles in several large waves, and which in the past ten years has received the equivalent of 15 billion euros in EU funds from the other states of Europe. ... Within the EU we're neither a small country nor a poor one. ... If we reject quotas in principal, then we must also say what solution we propose instead. Will we send our soldiers to the Mediterranean? Are we ready to set up refugee camps on the African coast? These questions are neither provocative nor purely rhetorical. That would only be the case if we had decided to join Europe as stowaways." (28/05/2015)

Die Presse - Austria

Eastern Europe's governments are short-sighted

The states of the EU are taking a far too short-sighted view of the refugee problem, the centre-right daily Die Presse criticises: "Anyone who thinks a step or two further on this issue - and that's exactly what even those Eastern European countries that are now opposing the distribution of refugees should be doing - should keep an eye on political developments in Ukraine and other former Soviet republics. What if war spreads there and millions of people flee these countries in the direction of the EU? Then Poland, Slovakia and Hungary will suddenly be overrun by a flood of refugees and demand the selfsame solidarity that they are now refusing to give. Today many are saying the EU shouldn't get too involved in this region. Perhaps they will then say the EU has done too little to bring peace there." (28/05/2015)

POLITICS

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Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

Creditors want to bring Athens to heel

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his leading negotiator Euclid Tsakalotos announced on Wednesday that they expect to reach an agreement with Greece's creditors within two weeks. But the latter are not interested in swiftly concluding the negotiations, the liberal business daily Il Sole 24 Ore counters: "The solution proposed by the unbending partners is dictated by a lack of trust. It aims not at concluding the negotiations but at prolonging them for weeks, if not months. Meanwhile Athens is to receive the 11 billion euros at its disposal not in one go but in dribs and drabs. A means of bringing the Greek government to heel and making sure that the reform plan is adhered to. … This rotten compromise may end the self-destructive trial of strength but it will hardly put an end to the Greek crisis." (28/05/2015)

The Daily Telegraph - United Kingdom

House of Lords must not sabotage Brexit vote

In her speech marking the opening of the new British parliament on Wednesday, Queen Elizabeth presented the Tory government's plan to hold a referendum on Britain's exiting the EU by the end of 2017. The House of Lords, which tends to be pro-EU, must not place any obstacles in the way of the vote, urges the Tory Member of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg in the conservative paper The Daily Telegraph: "It has a comfortable Left-wing majority which is undoubtedly much more supportive of the European Union than the nation at large or the House of Commons. Quite a number of Peers are former high-ranking Eurocrats in receipt of generous pensions from the EU, so are naturally pre-disposed to maintaining British membership. This could affect the passage of the referendum bill. ... It would be the Peers against the people, a battle which the Peers always lose." (27/05/2015)

Sözcü - Turkey

The people of Turkey will send Erdoğan away

According to an opinion poll put out on Wednesday Turkey's ruling party the AKP will win just 38.2 percent of the vote in the election on June 7. In 2011 it secured 49.8 percent. In this way the Turks will put an end to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's bid to establish a presidential system, the opposition daily Sözcü writes: "This will be a fateful election. Money, the entire power of the government, theft carried out under the pretence of piety, brazen lies and inequality is on one side, and the profound collective conscience of the people is on the other. … In reality the election will decide between those who want Tayyip Erdoğan to be a president with all the powers in his hand and those who find this dangerous and want the parliamentary system and the separation of powers to continue. The voters will decide. The people brought Erdoğan to power. And the people will send him away." (28/05/2015)

Jutarnji List - Croatia

Macedonia long a plaything of the powerful

Politically unstable Macedonia is facing the same fate as Ukraine, namely being crushed in a conflict of interests between the major powers, the liberal daily Jutarnji List warns: "Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is casting himself as the supreme defender of Macedonian unity and warning against the federalisation of the country, which he claims is being destabilised by 'external forces'. He is cleverly exploiting the passivity of the West: the Americans are silent and the EU has said it will take care of Macedonia in June. The West won't leave Macedonia to the Russians. But Russia has managed to get a foot in Macedonia's door in order to use a not yet definitively defined European space for its own strategic goals: a protective wall made up of the Baltic, the Balkans, the Caucasus and Central Asia." (28/05/2015)

Keskisuomalainen - Finland

Finns willing to tighten their belts

Finland's new coalition on Wednesday presented the sweeping austerity measures included in its government programme. The liberal daily Keskisuomalainen voices its approval: "With this programme all Finns will have to make compromises regarding their standard of living. Nevertheless the package contains no surprises, as many cuts were prepared but not implemented by the last government. ... Cutbacks are a good option provided sufficient emphasis is placed on economic growth at the same time. And compared with tax hikes, cuts in the public sector are the lesser evil. ... Moreover the people will accept painful decisions if that means more jobs." (28/05/2015)

ECONOMY

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De Morgen - Belgium

Cuts a disaster for Belgium's air safety

A power failure at the Belgian air safety company Belgocontrol paralysed air traffic in the country for hours on Wednesday. Flight safety is in danger in Belgium, the centre-left daily De Morgen warns: "It's only normal for the unions to immediately point to the spending cuts of recent years. And it's also normal for the top management to reject any such correlations. But CEO Johan Decuyper also said recently: 'Recruitment and investment are low at the moment, a situation which is hardly tenable in the long term. To guarantee safety we must invest more in personnel and technology.' These words now sound very bitter. Absolutely no correlation has been established between yesterday's empty airspace and the cuts at Belgocontrol. But the blackout at least reminds us that it would be very unwise to make too many cuts in the area of air traffic safety." (28/05/2015)

SOCIETY

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NaTemat.pl - Poland

Vatican should be silent on gay marriage

Cardinal Pietro Parolin described the Irish people's vote in favour of gay marriage as a "defeat for mankind" on Tuesday. The Vatican would do better to focus on the cases of child abuse committed by Catholic priests in Ireland between 1930 and 1990, journalist Przemysław Prekiel comments on the liberal blog portal naTemat, adding that the Church has lost any right to moralising criticism: "These are indeed brash words coming from the mouth of a representative of an institution that is partially responsible for the suffering of thousands of children who fell victim to abuse by priests. The Emerald Isle is still under shock from the abuse scandals in which the Church played an evil role. This was a real drama for thousands of people who were repudiated by the Church and whom it refused to help. … It's just a pity that the mass graves of the children who lie buried next to the Catholic institution don't provoke such indignation." (28/05/2015)

MediaPart - France

France must also honour its everyday heroes

The coffins of four members of the French resistance were transferred to the Panthéon in Paris in a solemn ceremony on Wednesday. Historian and blogger Vingtras criticises this personality cult in the left-leaning online paper Mediapart, and suggests honouring everyday heroes instead: "I'm thinking in particular of those who built the cathedrals, the masons of the Creuse, hundreds of whom died building Versailles Palace. I'm thinking of the farmers who fed generations, of the workers, the miners and the pioneers of transportation. I'm thinking of the soldiers of 1793, the proletarians of the Paris Commune, who were slaughtered by the Versaillais, but also of the soldiers who fought in the trenches in the First World War and all those who joined the resistance, regardless of the colour of their skin. A torch burns under the Arc de Triomphe in honour of the unknown soldier. Why not also honour the unknown citizen?" (27/05/2015)

Jurnalul National - Romania

Romanian supermarkets should also donate food

Starting last week, French supermarkets are no longer allowed to throw away unpurchased food. Romania should follow this example, journalist Alessandra Stoicescu writes in the daily Jurnalul National: "7.1 million tonnes of food are thrown out each year in France, 89 million across the EU and 1.3 billion worldwide. Of course we consumers are the main culprits when it comes to throwing food away. But this French law can raise our awareness of the problem. It obliges supermarkets to sign contracts with the charities they intend to donate food to. ... I would like to convince Romanian parliamentarians of the benefits of such a law. One could speak of the 'Robin Hoods of Food' who change the lives of children who go to sleep on an empty stomach every night." (27/05/2015)

SPORT

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Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

Football fans and functionaries must act now

Football fans and national football associations must stand up to Fifa and make sure that Joseph Blatter is not re-elected, the centre-left Süddeutsche Zeitung demands following the arrest of several top-level Fifa functionaries on Wednesday: "What now? There is one course the consumers have often taken. It is that of abstention. No association is forced to be a member of Fifa. No TV channel is forced to buy the broadcasting rights. And no spectator is forced to attend a Fifa event. … But first of all those functionaries who [weren't arrested in Zürich] must rebel. Blatter's re-election would perpetuate the system for an eternity - it must not happen now that these investigations are just beginning. It is up to the big football associations to at least apply for a postponement. The largest of them all is the German Football Association led by Wolfgang Niersbach. This would only send a signal - but it would be a signal all fans of football have been waiting for." (28/05/2015)

Upsala Nya Tidning - Sweden

Only absolute transparency can save Fifa

Following the arrest of top Fifa functionaries suspected of corruption and ties with organised crime, the association must finally be compelled to ensure transparency in its dealings, the liberal daily Upsala Nya Tidning urges: "One can only imagine how Qatar, a country where football is practically non-existent and where the heat makes games impossible during the day, was selected to host the World Cup in 2022. … No one will doubt that oil money was in play. … Would it have been better if Sweden's Lennart Johansson had been in charge of Fifa rather than Sepp Blatter, a man who like a mafia boss is always able to avoid being put under investigation? Perhaps. But Sweden's football association can do something here: it can demand that Fifa adhere to the principle of public access to information that has been enshrined in Sweden's constitution since 1766." (28/05/2015)

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