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Press review | 18/09/2014

 

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Scottish vote on independence

The Scots could end their 300-year-old union with England with the referendum. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

Around four million inhabitants of Scotland will vote today, Thursday, on whether their country should become independent of the United Kingdom. According to the most recent surveys it will be a close run. Some commentators warn that a "yes" will only bring more instability for the Scots and the rest of Europe. Others praise the respectful and democratic decision process behind the referendum.

Irish Examiner - Ireland

Going solo more difficult in times of crisis

Ireland's fate in the financial crisis should serve as a warning to the Scots not to go it alone, the liberal daily Irish Examiner points out: "The Scottish nationalists have, like any movement fuelled by emotion, insisted that Scotland's natural resources are abundant enough to support their ambitions, that they can continue to use sterling as their currency, and that an independent Scotland would be a welcome member of the EU. Those assertions are untested. So, if a friendly neighbour may offer a comparison, one where we learnt a very bitter lesson, Scots should consider how they might have fared had they been in our powerless position the night our tottering banks had to be rescued [on 28 November 2010]. Would they prefer to rely, as we had to, on the expensive kindness of strangers or on a relationship, for all its faults, that has stood the test of time? (17/09/2014)

Lietuvos Žinios - Lithuania

Separatism the last thing Europe needs now

Given the tense geopolitical situation in Europe, independence for Scotland wouldn't just be dangerous for the UK, the conservative daily Lietuvos žinios warns: "Since the times of US President Woodrow Wilson [from 1913 to 1921] we respect the democratic right of peoples to self-determination. On the other hand Scotland splitting off from the UK would be the first major redefining of borders in Western Europe since German reunification, and it would doubtless encourage separatist forces in Belgium, Spain and other regions of the continent. And the increasingly tense atmosphere resulting from [Europe's] relations with Russia is not exactly a good starting point for secessionist processes." (18/09/2014)

La Vanguardia - Spain

Brits show world how to do democracy

On the day of the Scottish referendum the people of Catalonia, also striving for independence, regard with envy the mutually respectful dialogue between London and Edinburgh which is lacking in Spain, the Catalan daily La Vanguardia observes: "London always responded to the growing support for independence with a willingness to talk and negotiate. And on Sunday it reinforced this stance with a document signed by the leaders of the UK's three major parties (Cameron for the Conservatives, Miliband for Labour and Clegg for the Liberals) in which they undertake to strengthen Scotland's autonomous powers and maintain the present levels of public investment. Therefore regardless of the referendum's outcome Scotland and the UK can be proud of carrying out an impeccable democratic process, in which the delicate matter of secession has been tackled with the best tools: mutual respect, dialogue and a willingness to make compromises." (18/09/2014)

Jornal de Negócios - Portugal

Cameron and the EU have already lost

No matter how the Scots vote, it's already clear that British Prime Minister David Cameron and a short-sighted EU are the losers, the liberal business daily Jornal de Negócios comments: "All the hysteria about the Scottish referendum proves that Europe is not only incapable of fighting the economic crisis and preserving democratic values, but also of understanding the rising tide of nationalisms. ... Political mediocrity rules the day. This became more than apparent during the 'Scottish campaign' [with which the unionists around Cameron aimed to bring the Scots' on to their side in recent days]. ... David Cameron's desperate campaign with its belated and empty promises has thus turned him into a loser. If Cameron is defeated he will be the one who allowed the UK to collapse. If he wins he will be the one who gave Scotland far too much power within the UK. But the biggest loser is Europe's short-sighted policy." (18/09/2014)

Journal 21 - Switzerland

Statehood largely irrelevant in the EU

In today's Europe the question of whether Scotland becomes independent is far less important than is being suggested, the online magazine Journal 21 believes: "Thanks to the EU we live, whether formally or not, in a Europe without borders as regards our money, our economy and our national borders. This has brought clear advantages to most Europeans in terms of quality of life: living, working, doing business, studying, travelling and holidays have all been liberated of time-consuming formalities and obstacles between states. … More than just a few Scots seem to actually believe that 'living in their own country' would substantially improve their quality of life. In actual fact most of them will go on living just as they have done so far after September 18, regardless of the outcome of the vote. Borderless Europe makes state borders largely irrelevant for the daily lives of individuals." (17/09/2014)

POLITICS

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Financial Times - United Kingdom

Kiev can only win with financial aid

The Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will meet in Washington today with US President Barack Obama. Instead of military support Poroshenko should request financial aid, political scientist Eugene Rumer recommends in the conservative daily Financial Times: "His visit is certain to trigger more calls to supply his embattled nation with weaponry to defend itself against Russian aggression. Such calls are misguided. Ukraine does not need extra arms to fight a war that it cannot win and that can only prolong its suffering. What it needs is economic aid. ... Ukraine's friends can help. They need to push for a UN-sanctioned peacekeeping force for eastern Ukraine to keep the ceasefire. And they need to come up with a more robust economic assistance package to help the country weather the economic crisis and shore up its government. If ... the fate of Europe whole and free depends on it, then it is a price worth paying." (17/09/2014)

Die Zeit - Germany

Ebola epidemic is a global crisis

In response to an appeal by the Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday pledged that Germany would support the efforts to counter the Ebola virus in Western Africa by supplying air transportation, assistance in building hospital wards and money for the World Health Organisation. The liberal weekly Die Zeit praises the initiative: "After months of appeals that have led to nothing, the epidemic is now being treated like any other international crisis. Finally. Certainly, an epidemic is not a war like the ones raging in Iraq or Syria, nor is it a geopolitical conflict like in Ukraine. Nevertheless the outbreak of Ebola in Western Africa is a crisis of comparable dimensions and force. Because it threatens to destabilise an entire region. Because the consequences of the virus spreading further would be catastrophic. Because the only thing that can still stop the epidemic is concerted action on the part of the rich states of the North. Those in positions of power have now grasped this truth, and that gives us a little hope." (18/09/2014)

Delo - Slovenia

The US itself conjured up the IS specter

The US has carried out more than 160 airstrikes since August against the jihadist Islamic State's positions in Iraq. But the advance of the terrorist militia is also a result of US foreign policy, the left-liberal daily Delo points out: "The consequences of the US's foreign policy are the collapse of Iraq, the brutal civil war in Syria, the Arab revolutions and counter-revolutions, the socio-economic tragedies in the region, the crusade against Islam in the name of the fight against terrorism, the forced conflict between the Sunnis and Shiites. And also the redrawing of the regional map. ... The fact that big companies, countries, the military and ethnic groups dominate the struggle for energy sources and above all water is the main driving force behind modern conflicts." (18/09/2014)

Novi List - Croatia

Politicians also to blame for Croatian floods

Rivers have once again flooded broad swathes of central Croatia. But the days of prolonged rain are less to blame than the country's politicians, the left-liberal daily Novi List writes in anger: "For too long our country has done nothing more than paint the rotting walls year for year, collect the drowned cattle and give alms to those who have suffered losses. Croatia Water Works has failed miserably. This Moloch has vast funds and no end of employees at its disposal, but it needs to be completely restructured. And it must finally do its job. Because at the moment no one there has any idea where to build embankments, dams or drainage to prevent further flooding. Croatia urgently needs a detailed and serious flood protection plan. The loathsome irresponsibility of those in charge has exceeded all acceptable boundaries - and we all must foot the bill." (18/09/2014)

ECONOMY

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La Stampa - Italy

Debate on job protection paralyses Italy

Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi presented part of his labour market reform to the Senate on Wednesday. The unions have already announced they will fight the plans to relax job protection. But the row over employment protection is ridiculous since there aren't enough jobs in the first place, the liberal daily La Stampa criticises: "This conflict is flaring up at a time when jobs should have the priority. ... Such ardent complacency will only leave ashes in its wake and won't create a single job. We would do better to put our energy and passion into constructive debates about the future. About how we want to create full employment and growth in the next five years. We should think about what we can do for the 3.2 million officially unemployed, the 3.3 million who've been off the job market for a long period (and who've given up even looking for jobs), innumerable youths, women, over-50s and recipients of unemployment benefits, to give them access to the world of employment." (18/09/2014)

SOCIETY

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Polityka Online - Poland

No assisted suicide for Belgian rapist

A Belgian court has ruled that the convicted murderer and rapist Frank Van Den Bleeken may commit medically assisted suicide after he argued that he is "suffering unbearably" in prison and that there is no prospect of his being cured of his mental illness. Fortunately the ruling is meeting with opposition in Belgium, Adam Szostkiewic, the church expert of the left-liberal news portal Polityka Online comments: "In my opinion this is a risky step in euthanasia. Because is this truly a compassionate gesture? And does this criminal deserve it? ... Belgium is basically a country with a Catholic culture. But it currently has one of the most liberal societies in Europe. At least Van Den Bleeken's euthanasia plans are meeting with resistance. The state has been admonished to use all the psychological instruments available before allowing such a step. And people are saying that the ruling on the convicted man's request came too quickly. ... I share these concerns." (18/09/2014)

Kathimerini - Greece

Stubborn Greeks still support neo-Nazis

Exactly a year after the murder of the Greek hip hop artist and anti-fascist Pavlos Fyssas by a member of the neo-Nazi Chrysi Avgi party, the latter continues to be the third-strongest political force in the country according to recent surveys. The Greeks learned nothing from the attack, the conservative daily Kathimerini criticises: "This year the theory that the confused voters would soon return to the right path has been disproved. A theory that many found convenient. ... In the European elections in May one in ten voters voted for this party because they identified with it despite being aware of its ideology and its bloody consequences. They stubbornly continue to support it even though there are no more doubts about the crimes of the party leadership, the party's paramilitary structure or the hatred of all that is foreign." (16/09/2014)

Hürriyet Daily News - Turkey

Turkey forcing religion on children

The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday that religious education in Turkey is discriminatory because it fails to respect the religious beliefs of minorities. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has responded by saying that the practice in Turkey's schools constitutes prevention against religious radicalism. The liberal Hürriyet Daily News disagrees: "The curriculum in Turkey is nothing like the 'religion and ethics education' its name suggests. It only teaches the Sunni way of practicing religion, and students are required to memorize many surahs, chapters of the Quran, often performing the namaz [ritualistic prayer] in classes to get a pass grade. .. . Forcing a religion or a political view on children is not acceptable even when it is done by parents, but doing this through state institutions is a clear violation of the most basic rights. The government should stop sugarcoating it as a tool to fight radicalism and end the practice immediately." (18/09/2014)

Ziare - Romania

Security over anonymity with phone cards

The Romanian Constitutional Court this week overturned a regulation according to which buyers of prepaid phone cards must present their ID. The court was too focused on concerns about anonymity and has paid too little attention to security issues, the news portal Ziare writes: "Does insisting on strict security checks and effective prevention instruments - to prevent a bloodbath at Bucharest's North Station like the one in Madrid, where the terrorists used prepaid cards [in the attacks of 2004] - mean we live in a police state? No, just a secure state in a world that has gone off the rails. In Denmark, Spain, Italy and Greece prepaid customers cannot remain anonymous. Are these police states? This is not just about terrorism, but also about organised crime, kidnappings and corruption. ... Of course abuse is possible - just as it's possible to violate the privacy of subscribers. But there are penalties for that." (18/09/2014)

MEDIA

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Phileleftheros - Cyprus

Europeans don't care about refugee tragedies

The International Organisation for Migration reported on Monday that a boat with roughly 500 refugees on board was capsized by human traffickers as it was crossing the Mediterranean. According to official reports dozens of other refugees also drowned on Sunday off the coast of Libya. The liberal daily Phileleftheros complains about the indifference of the media: "Only a few lines were written about it. It's simply a figure that sooner or later will be used in a study on migration risks. Perhaps at one point we'll also erect a monument in some Mediterranean harbour for the unknown souls who never managed to become immigrants. Such news doesn't provoke even a fraction of the shock they experience when a Western citizen is beheaded by jihadists. Of course it's not the same thing. There we were witness to the barbarity, saw the victim's expression and felt his fear. ... He wasn't just one of the anonymous." (17/09/2014)

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