Press review | 30/07/2014



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EU imposes strict sanctions on Russia

Moscow's banking district: state-owned Russian banks may no longer sell shares or bonds in the EU. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


The 28 EU ambassadors on Tuesday agreed on a package of economic sanctions against Moscow. The measures will target key sectors like banking, defence and energy. Finally the EU is reacting appropriately to the aggression against Ukraine, some commentators write approvingly. Others warn of unpredictable reactions in Russia.

Libération - France

The price of Russian aggression

Putin is finally being shown the price to be paid for his aggressive behaviour, the left-liberal daily Libération writes in praise of the EU ambassadors' decision: "These sanctions are justified. The crash of the Malaysia Airlines plane, which in all probability was shot down by a Russian missile, is just the culmination of Putin's aggressive policies. These continue to surprise and bewilder Europe's leaders, who had believed their continent was on course for permanent peace. Faced with this new paradigm, the EU, even more than the US, must redefine its policies vis-à-vis Moscow. Of course there can be no question of an eye-for-an-eye and war-for-war approach. Nevertheless all political, diplomatic, commercial and economic levers must be used to show Russia, its leaders, and also its elites the price of its isolation and aggressiveness." (30/07/2014)

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

Sanctions didn't work in North Korea

For the first time in the Russia-Ukraine conflict the sanctions against Moscow are painful for both sides, the conservative daily Lidové noviny notes, but doubts they will have a significant impact on Putin: "The West miscalculated when it entertained hopes that the shooting down of the Malaysian plane, most likely by pro-Russian separatists, would prompt Putin to revise his course. And we can't expect the tighter sanctions to work a miracle either. If he flinches now, the Russian people, who even according to relatively independent surveys support his stance, would see him as a weakling. The West can only hope that the oligarchs affected by the sanctions will exert pressure on Putin. ... On the other hand North Korea, for instance, has survived sanctions for years and is merrily pursuing its arms programme." (30/07/2014)

Lietuvos rytas - Lithuania

West fears Putin's fall

In the long term tough economic sanctions could have dramatic consequences both in Russian and beyond its borders, the liberal daily Lietuvos rytas warns: "The West fears the results of giving the Kremlin regime's economic foundations a proper shaking. The regime could become even more cruel and inscrutable. On the other hand its erosion and sudden fall would unleash a far bigger and less controllable fire than that which rages now in Ukraine. The biggest risk factor and question mark is how the broad mass of Russian society would react. ... Is the West truly prepared for the worst global scenarios of an escalating Ukraine crisis?" (30/07/2014)

Jutarnji List - Croatia

Punitive measures a necessary evil

The sanctions are the right answer to Russia's aggression, the liberal daily Jutarnji List writes, and calls on the Croatians to bear any retaliatory measures stoically: "Sanctions are always bad news because they're imposed when someone contravenes rights that have been prescribed or agreed on. The Russian president transgressed all limits and violated international law with the annexation of Crimea. ... The sanctions will hit Russia, but their repercussions will also be felt by many European countries - including Croatia - if Moscow decides on counter-measures. Our trade relations with Russia will suffer, but the same will hold for other countries as well. Nevertheless we'll just have to grit our teeth and bear it, even if it means our economic recovery is delayed. Because we [Croatians] of all people know what it's like when part of your country is simply taken." (30/07/2014)


  » open - Spain

Nobel Prize for Israel's hypothetical pacifism

Israel's current behaviour is guaranteed to win it the Nobel Peace Prize, José A. Pérez comments sarcastically in online newspaper's Blog Zona Critica: "Naturally the Nobel Committee would have to pay less attention to what the Israeli state is doing than to what it is not doing, even though it could. It wouldn't be the first time the Academy awards a potential, hypothetical pacifism. Look at Kissinger. Or Obama. A Nobel Peace Prize for being able to invade but not actually doing it, for not killing too much, or for condoning torture just a little. ... Let's also give a Nobel Prize to the international community for not actively taking part in the bombardment, but simply looking on impassively. And another for the media, who are distorting the reality just a little - only in the headlines and captions. ... There aren't enough prizes to reward so much pacifism." (30/07/2014)

Radikal - Turkey

A secular Turkey could mediate in Middle East

The Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu took part in a mediation meeting with his counterparts from the US, EU and Qatar on the weekend in Paris in a bid to find a solution to the Gaza conflict. After the meeting he stressed that peace negotiations without Hamas's participation would be impossible. Turkey's foreign policy has been too strongly aligned with radical Hamas, the liberal daily Radikal laments: "If Turkey hadn't made the foreign policy mistakes it has made in the last five years it could negotiate today with Hamas, Israel and even with Fatah, and its diplomatic influence and role wouldn't be limited to Hamas. ... In short: Turkey would be a far more effective and convincing voice against Israel's disproportionate violence and state terror. ... What the Middle East lacks most is a secular and truly democratic Turkey that adopts a rational, open, consistent and positive role in the region. Innocent people in Palestine, Gaza, Iraq and Syria are paying the price for this sin." (30/07/2014)

The Independent - United Kingdom

Cameron fishing in far-right waters

British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged on Tuesday to tighten the immigration laws, cut social benefits for immigrants and introduce an "immigration system that puts Britain first". The left-liberal daily The Independent sees this as a coldly calculated sharpening of his rhetoric: "However depressing the vision of a once relatively civilised Tory descending into such brutishness, this is good politics. Assuaging the paranoid fears and courting the xenophobia of those who dislike foreigners is about as crude an anti-Ukip ploy as there could be, and will pay a dividend at the polls. If Mr Cameron cannot win cleanly, he has clearly prepared to win ugly. ... There must be a part of him - the better part of him - that guiltily recoils from the transaction as he sells the remnants of his compassionate Conservative soul to vicious sledgehammer campaigning." (29/07/2014)

La Stampa - Italy

Climate of mistrust between US and Russia

Washington accused Moscow on Tuesday of violating the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with a test launch in 2008. Although the incident itself should not be dramatised, the delicate state of relations between the two countries is very much cause for concern, the liberal daily La Stampa warns: "The strategic balance between Washington and Moscow isn't significantly affected by this or that cruise missile. Nevertheless the political consensus achieved between Russia and the US has been subjected to almost daily attacks for some time now. A loss of trust and a dramatic decrease in readiness for dialogue are now the order of the day. The problems aren't new, but the polemical and brusque way of broaching them certainly are. ... The phase after the end of the Cold War seems to be giving way to one that is hard to define, but marked by huge uncertainties and dangers." (30/07/2014)

Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland

Kosovars also committed war crimes

The EU's Special Prosecutor John Clint Williamson presented his report on the crimes committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army UÇK during the Kosovo War on Tuesday. He accuses the army of crimes against humanity and wants to have its leaders put on trial. The report is an important step in the emancipation of the young nation of Kosovo, the daily Tages-Anzeiger believes: "During and immediately after the war, several rebel leaders kidnapped Serbs, murdered Roma and silenced critical Albanians. Anyone who stood in their way had to fear for their lives. Eyewitnesses were shot, evidence destroyed. ... There were human rights violations also on the Kosovo-Albanian side which must be investigated. Now the international tribunals must take action, and above all witnesses must be protected. ... The West liberated Kosovo from Belgrade's repression in 1999. Now the young Balkan republic's second liberation is under way. This time from the so-called freedom heroes who sullied their country's reputation in the frenzy of war." (30/07/2014)


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Blog Vesselin Jelev - Bulgaria

Corpbank shareholders should pay for bailout

Bulgaria wants to take out billions in loans to bail out the ailing Corporate Commercial Bank. The parliament in Sofia approved a raise in the national budget for this purpose on its first reading on Tuesday. Why aren't the shareholders and investors being made to foot the bill first, journalist Veselin Jelev asks in his blog: "It may be that in this situation this is the right decision - I don't know. But one thing I do know: this decision is the opposite of what Europe decided with its banking union. According to that agreement the shareholders and creditors are liable first, then the savers and only in the end the taxpayers. Bulgaria is not part of the banking union but I still want to know why we are jumping the first three links in the chain of liability. Why are [the opposition party] Gerb, [the Turkish junior coalition partner] DPS and the president accepting that the taxpayer pays the bill?" (29/07/2014)

Eleftherotypia - Greece

Don't sell off Greece's beaches

After months of popular resistance the Greek government has withdrawn for revision a draft law on the privatisation of beaches that would have made it significantly easier to put up buildings along the coastline. Author Eleni Svoronou shares her qualms about the initiative in the left-liberal daily Eleftherotypia: "It's the combination of clean beaches, traditional villages, archaeological sites, forests and a large biodiversity that makes our landscape what it is and sets Greece apart from Turkey, Italy, Spain and other Mediterranean countries. ... If holiday destinations are all made to look the same and you can no longer tell whether you're on a coast in Greece or Spain, visitors simply won't have the same quality of experience. ... Perhaps we'll attract all-inclusive tourists who just stick to their hotels. ... The tourism revenues may go up. But what will happen in the long term?" (29/07/2014)


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Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

Yukos ruling classic example of shadow justice

Monday's Yukos ruling may give the beneficiaries satisfaction but it throws a spotlight on the power of international arbitration courts, the left-liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung warns: "Already the arbitration courts, unnoticed by the public, have become a powerful instance beyond the jurisdiction of national courts. The number of cases being dealt with by international tribunals has increased tenfold in the last 20 years. ... The Philip Morris tobacco company case, in which a country like Australia was dragged before an arbitration court in the quest for tougher anti-smoking legislation, is just one of many examples. ... Given the growing importance of arbitration courts it is increasingly a problem that they are barely subject to controls. ... The Yukos case and the record compensation ordered by The Hague should therefore serve as a warning to Western politicians to limit the influence of arbitration courts. They impinge on the sovereignty of democracies to an alarming extent." (30/07/2014)

Dagens Nyheter - Sweden

Boko Haram's brutal race against time

The militant Nigerian sect Boko Haram is now threatening the security of neighbouring country Cameroon. On the weekend the Islamists killed several people and kidnapped the wife of the deputy prime minister, as well as a mayor. The liberal daily Dagens Nyheter reacts with disgust: "In its total recklessness and fanaticism Boko Haram resembles Isil in Iraq. The fundamentalists want to freeze society and banish the prevailing disorder. In their eyes the quest for this paradisical state justifies all acts of brutality. This tendency exists in less extreme forms in many other places in the world. But it's a race against time. ... Nigeria too is slowly succumbing to the pull of globalisation and modernisation. Boko Haram will have a hard time prevailing in the long term. Admittedly this is small consolation for the thousands of innocent people who are affected each day by the sect's advance." (29/07/2014)

De Volkskrant - Netherlands

Greenpeace bosses destroy one-time rebel club

Growing reports of controversial investments and unnecessary plane trips are upping the pressure on the management of environmental organisation Greenpeace. Members are calling for the top executives to step down but this won't solve the problem, the left-liberal daily De Volkskrant warns: "Those who want to rise so high above the evil world must also set high standards for themselves. And Greenpeace has clearly failed in this respect. The Greenpeace executives not only violated the dogma of the green church with their investment policy and travelling habits, they also reacted poorly to internal criticism. ... But the demands for the dismissal of the top executives won't solve the real problem at Greenpeace: the institutionalisation of a club of rebels. The organisation is still carrying out the same actions as in its early years, but it has become bigger and more successful than is good for it." (30/07/2014)


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Hämeen Sanomat - Finland

Finland's PM twitters too much on sport

The new Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb is an enthusiastic Twitterer and also uses the platform to comment on his sport activities. He is now under fire for sending more tweets about his participation in a triathlon than about the plane crash in eastern Ukraine. Stubb needs to work on his political skills, the liberal daily Hämeen Sanomat advises: "To claim that twittering is taking up too much of the time Stubb should be dedicating to his real tasks is populist and doesn't tally with the facts. ... Yet Stubb's public image increasingly seems to be that of someone who takes a greater interest in his athletic activities than in the daily concerns of his citizens and international crises. ... Stubb should reflect on what he wants to be reported about his sports activities. If he keeps on twittering as he has done so far he will be handing his political opponents ammunition on a silver platter." (30/07/2014)

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