Press review | 09/10/2015



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Nato criticises Russia's Syrian intervention

The Nato defence ministers struggled to find a strategy for Syria at their meeting in Brussels on Thursday. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


At a meeting on Thursday Nato urged Moscow to help in the fight against the IS terror organisation and to stop supporting Assad's regime in Syria. The West must finally admit that there is no alternative to major military intervention, some commentators maintain. For others Russia is only hurting its own interests with its attacks on Syrian opposition forces.

Göteborgs-Posten - Sweden

No-fly zone would have prevented much suffering

The US and Nato must finally say goodbye to the idea that there is an alternative to major military intervention in Syria, demands the liberal daily Göteborgs-Posten: "All or nothing - that's the way the US and Nato seem to think. And on the whole the result was nothing. … But there is a midway between all and nothing, namely something. The US and Nato should have set up a no-fly zone a long time ago, and Sweden would have been glad to help. … That would have created a safe zone in Syria watched over by Swedish, European and American military. If possible under a UN flag. There should have been a zone where helpless Syrians who feared for their lives could flee to, where [the UN Refugee Agency] UNHCR and the [UN's] World Food Programme could provide them with food, medicine, schools and a roof over their heads. And where it wasn't forbidden to work and take care of one's needs." (09/10/2015)

The Times - United Kingdom

Putin putting his country in danger

With his military intervention in Syria Russian President Vladimir Putin is not only turning the Sunnis in the Middle East against his country but he is also promoting radical Islamism in Russia, the conservative daily The Times warns: "Across the Gulf, preachers are urging Sunnis not just to fight the holy war but also to take arms against the Russians. Rewards are being offered for the capture of Russian soldiers. The northern Caucasus, far from being shielded by Russia's airstrikes, is likely to become a battleground in Mr Putin's back yard. Domestic enthusiasm for war will melt when dead soldiers are returned to their families. ... Now, as in Ukraine, Mr Putin is being revealed as a leader who overestimates his powers." (08/10/2015)

Le Figaro - France

Russia strengthening the IS with its attacks

As in the Chechen war, Russian President Putin is using the fight against terror as a pretext for weakening opponents of the regime, the conservative daily Le Figaro points out, but warns that this time the danger for the whole world is much greater: "In the eyes of the Kremlin chief, the method developed in Chechnya has proven worthwhile. However Russia is running considerable risks in sweeping away everything it its path in an area were two competing coalitions are vying for supremacy. Some are already worried that a simple spark could ignite a third world war. Let's hope things don't go that far. Nevertheless the risk exists that the opposition could be driven into the arms of the best armed group. That could well be the IS, which has been spared by the Russian strikes so far. It would be a bitter irony if the means used by Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad had the same effect as those employed by George Bush in the name of American imperialism to eliminate Saddam Hussein." (09/10/2015)

Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

Syrian war rebulilding old walls

The Syrian war is worsening the already tense relations between Nato and Russia, the liberal business daily Il Sole 24 Ore comments: "On the rubbles of Middle East nations crushed under the wars a new wall in the heart of Europe is rising. The face-off between Russia and NATO is getting tougher and tougher: the Siraq (Syria and Iraq) war is moving along the trajectory of a crisis that extends beyond the Middle East and its regional reach. From the bloody arena of the Levant, the East-West standoff rebounds in Europe, reopening the wound of Ukraine. ... As if the problem, after Russia's intervention, were no longer Assad and the caliphate. ... The world seems to be going back to before the collapse of USSR, when on the two sides of the wall there was no doubt about who was the friend and the enemy. " (09/10/2015)


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Der Standard - Austria

Exodus to Europe: Merkel has found her historical mission

German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared on the popular German talk show hosted by Anne Will on Wednesday evening. The chancellor is more resolute than ever, comments the centre-left daily Der Standard: "With her self-assured appearances on the talk show in the evening and in the EU Parliament during the day, Merkel demonstrated a capacity for leadership that extends beyond Germany. She reinforced the claim she made one month ago that 'We can do it.' That is a courageous stance, because her approval ratings in the polls have already started to plummet and criticism from within her party is growing louder. ... In her ten years as chancellor Merkel has more often moderated than taken action. Even on the refugee issue she took her time positioning herself. Now she's taken the bull by the horns and made it her mission. That's the difference between her stance here and in the Greek crisis. Back then her annoyance was clear for all to see. But the refugee problem she views as her personal challenge, a task posed by history." (09/10/2015)

Népszava - Hungary

Exodus to Europe: Not even Hungary's left welcomes refugees

The centre-left opposition in Hungary faces a dilemma in view of the refugee crisis because even its supporters are for the most part hostile to migrants, the left-leaning daily Népszava comments: "The opposition parties also face problems because even in their own ranks anti-migrant sentiment holds sway. The recent months have clearly shown us that no new supporters can be recruited in Hungarian politics by keeping a distance and - as awful as it is to say - welcoming statements. Never mind recruiting new members: you can't even keep the supporters you have already recruited with such an attitude. For better or for worse: nothing can be gained with a policy based on firm moral principles." (09/10/2015)

24 Chasa - Bulgaria

Exodus to Europe: Bulgaria ready for Schengen membership

In view of the high numbers of refugees on the border between Turkey and Bulgaria the daily newspaper 24 Chasa calls on the EU states to finally allow Bulgaria to join the Schengen Area: "Bulgaria is right at the front line for the thousands of refugees and Brussels doesn't have the right to doubt this or play it down. On the one hand we are making a huge effort to fulfil all Schengen requirements. On the other hand we aren't given any access to Schengen information systems. If we were allowed to join the Schengen zone we could do much more to secure the EU's external borders. It's high time the EU ended this contradictory situation and let Bulgaria join the Schengen Area - not just out of goodwill but because Bulgaria is achieving good results in the fight against human trafficking and goods smuggling." (09/10/2015)

Público - Portugal

Why not a left-wing government for Portugal?

Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva has tasked Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho with forming a government. Meanwhile the moderate Socialists have met with other left-wing parties to discuss the formation of an alliance with a working majority to oppose the austerity policy. Any constellation is a possibility right now, the liberal daily Público observes: "Cavaco wants a stable government and won't back down on that. … He has many faults but he always thinks with his own head. … Even if the leader of the Socialists António Costas discovers that his heart leans more to the left than to the right - and seems ready to rebuff the conservative alliance and run into the waiting arms of the left-wing bloc and the communists -, Cavaco wouldn't stop him. What the president wants is stability. And if the right can't provide it, then it will have to come from the left." (08/10/2015)

BNS - Lithuania

Lukashenko remains Russia's 'governor'

Belarus will elect a president on Sunday. Europe is naive if it thinks this will bring political change in the country, political scientist Laurynas Kasčiūnas writes on the online portal of the news agency BNS: "Alexander Lukashenko is more modest than the dictators of Central Asia, and for that reason he won't give himself much more than 80 percent of the vote. Far more interesting is how the relations between Belarus and the West develop after the elections. Voices calling for a new rapprochement with the regime in Belarus are already making themselves heard in the corridors of the EU. ... Ostensibly this would allow Belarus to reduce its dependence on the Kremlin. ... The fact is, however, that for a long time now Lukashenko has not been the one with his hands on the wheel. Such strategic decisions were most likely never in his hands at all. Lukashenko is caught up in a relation of dependence on Russia. For the last two decades Belarus has looked more like a Russian provincial government than an independent state." (09/10/2015)


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De Tijd - Belgium

Eurozone must hope its locomotive won't stall

German exports dropped by over five percent in August, the biggest month-on-month slump since 2009, according to Germany's Federal Statistical Office. Yet another setback for the country's economy, writes the business paper De Tijd: "Germany has become more susceptible to the economic slowdown in China and other emerging economies. ... The German economic model is losing its shine and seems to be less robust than expected. ... However any gloating is out of place. In recent years the German economy has been the locomotive that drives the entire Eurozone. ... Belgium and the other euro countries must hope that the emissions scandal at VW and the record losses [anticipated for the third quarter of 2015] at Deutsche Bank will leave no more than a few scratches on the German economy and won't seriously weaken its power." (09/10/2015)

Dienas Bizness - Latvia

Exodus to Europe: Latvia's economy could use more migrants

Some European countries could even benefit from the wave of refugees, the business paper Dienas bizness points out: "What we observed not long ago with scepticism and fear could become an opportunity. Just a short while ago Europe was talking about social uncertainty and rising crime rates. Now people are talking about the economy, which many see as the area that most stands to benefit from the new arrivals. Not just because homes for asylum seekers will be built and food sales will increase. No: Europe's population is growing older, and we will lack workers and taxpayers in the coming years. ... But compared to Germany Latvia stands to gain little from the refugees. In the past six months just one thousand of all the free jobs were filled. Have no fear, the refugees won't take jobs away from the Latvians - but at the same time the Latvian economy will hardly benefit from the refugees." (08/10/2015)


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Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

Nobel Prize in Literature turned into peace prize

The Belarusian author Svetlana Alexievich has won this year's Nobel Prize in Literature. Literary skills seem to have played little role in the Swedish Academy's decision, comments the centre-left daily Süddeutsche Zeitung: "As impressive as the chorus of voices of ordinary people may be through which Svetlana Alexievich tells the story of the last hundred years of Eastern European history, and as unique and even artistic as this arrangement may be, it is nonetheless indisputable that the political significance of this work overshadows its literary importance - if only because it allows ordinary people to talk and be listened to in a region of the world where despots of all kinds replace each other continually without ever being anything but despots. … The Swedish Academy will soon have to decide what its prize should really be: a prize for an outstanding literary work or a peace prize awarded in the cultural arena." (09/10/2015)


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Cumhuriyet - Turkey

Nobel Prize winner a model for Turkish children

Turkish-born geneticist Aziz Sancar was named one of this year's three winners of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday. In his first statement after the announcement he said that Turkey needs to do more to promote the sciences and education. The journalist Özlem Yüzak thanks him for these words in the Kemalist daily Cumhuriyet: "Science has a hard time in this country, Mr Sancar. We have 200 universities but, with a few exceptions, Turkey is no longer a good country for scientific research. Once again we are seeing the faculties for subjects as important as physics or chemistry being closed down because they are considered unimportant. Not the candidates of the faculties but those of the government are appointed as rectors. We have a generation of young people that is being thrown away as if it were small change. … I hope that the right conclusions are drawn from your award and that children see you as a role model." (09/10/2015)

Hospodářské noviny - Czech Republic

Exodus to Europe: Czechs don't even like themselves

Only four percent of the Czech population wants the country to take in refugees, according to a study published by opinion research institute CVVM on Wednesday. The reason for this is simple, writes the liberal business daily Hospodářské noviny: "Why is this the case here? Perhaps because we can't even stand ourselves. Most Czechs don't like the Czechs. Welfare recipients, the rich, people who work abroad or are in a relationship with a foreigner, dog owners, dog haters, fans of Sparta Prag, Fans of Slavia Prag, fans of no team whatsoever. In short: all those whom we consider to be somehow 'abnormal', we don't like. And in a certain sense that's everyone. Their number corresponds to our total population. All that we have in common is the view that there are those who we want to have here even less than ourselves." (09/10/2015)


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La Vanguardia - Spain

Fifa even less transparent than Vatican

The ethics committee of world football association Fifa suspended president Joseph Blatter for 90 days on Thursday. The conservative daily La Vanguardia says it hopes that this hermetically sealed organisation will finally become transparent: "If football was a religion, Fifa would be its Vatican, [British Author] John Carlin once wrote. And as in the Vatican, the decision-making processes that impact the hearts of hundreds of millions of people are opaque and medieval. The Holy See can be forgiven for this because it deals with the hereafter, Carlin concludes, but at Fifa, which deals with very mundane matters, this is nothing short of fraud. Since Pope Francis took over things have changed and there is more of an effort to achieve transparency and communication. ... But since Joseph Blatter took over at Fifa the allegations of corruption at management level have multiplied and the management has closed itself off like an oyster and covered itself in a veil of silent and embarrassing impenetrability." (09/10/2015)

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