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Press review | 27/03/2015

 

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Shattering revelations about plane crash

Lufthansa boss Carsten Spohr said no security system could prevent such isolated incidents. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

According to evidence from a cockpit voice recorder the co-pilot of the Germanwings plane deliberately downed the aircraft, a French prosecutor announced on Thursday. The press expresses shock and bafflement over the question of how such tragedies can be prevented in future. Some commentators however also warn against judging too rashly before all the facts are in.

Frankfurter Rundschau - Germany

We must accept constant danger

In the wake of the Germanwings plane crash several German airlines have announced plans to step up their security regulations and ensure that at least two crew members are always present in a plane's cockpit. The left-liberal daily Frankfurter Rundschau agrees that this is an important step, but points out that even that won't guarantee absolute safety: "As much as they sympathise with the victims, technology sceptics may be reassured by the fact that the aircraft doesn't appear to have failed. Others are all the more shocked to realise that a person of authority whom we are forced to trust when we fly could abuse our trust in such a way. But neither the one nor the other will change anything about the fact that - no matter how much we deny it in self-defence - we can always fall victim to the acts of a madman. This is not reassuring. But perhaps accepting that danger is constantly present will ease our decision to go on the streets - or board an airplane - despite everything." (27/03/2015)

Protagon - Greece

Perhaps the spirit of the times is to blame

The web portal Protagon speculates on the co-pilot's motives for deliberately crashing Germanwings flight 4U 9525: "If the pilot didn't leave a farewell letter we will never learn what was going on in his mind. At some stage we will forget this crime, the public eye will turn elsewhere without an answer coming to light. We will ask ourselves whether he saw something similar at the cinema and decided he wanted to experience it for himself. But we will also reflect on whether the blame is to be sought not just in his confused mind, but also as a product of the spirit of the times. Is it perhaps this spirit that demands that we call attention to ourselves? Everyone knows how to do that nowadays. Perhaps the rest of the world won't notice that you lived. But everyone will learn that you died." (27/03/2015)

Libération - France

Pilots need better psychological monitoring

As the Germanwings crash triggers widespread strong emotions, the left-liberal daily Libération makes an effort to be rational and draw useful conclusions from the tragedy: "It is a nightmare and an irony of history that locking the cockpit door - a security measure introduced after the 9/11 attacks - allowed the drama to unfold. Be that as it may, two lessons may be learned from the whole affair. The first is that no matter what technological progress we make, man will always be able to win out over machines…. This pre-eminence is both reassuring and terrifying. The second lesson is more constructive. Today the world has learned that once pilots receive their licenses they are no longer obliged to undergo psychological examinations, but only tests of their technical skills. Urgent action is called for here." (26/03/2015)

medienblog.nzz.ch - Switzerland

Prosecution opens hunt on co-pilot

Immediately after the preliminary results of the investigation into the crash of the Germanwings aircraft were announced, details about the co-pilot spread through the Internet. The media blog on the website of the liberal-conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung criticises the speculation and premature condemnation of the alleged perpetrator: "The prosecution in Marseille on Thursday released the name of the co-pilot who apparently was sitting alone in the locked cockpit when the Germanwings airliner crashed. Within instants his name spread through the digital channels of the news agencies, and anger brewed in the social networks. A clearly falsified twitter account has exposed the man to public abuse. The hunt has begun. No one asks whether the facts have been confirmed beyond all doubt or whether the French prosecution always speaks God's truth. And for their part all those who normally look askance at announcements by state officials have fallen silent. Reason, however, dictates that we apply a certain prudence in classifying, assessing and repeating breaking news." (26/03/2015)

POLITICS

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Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

The West is on the wrong side in Yemen

The military coalition led by Saudi Arabia continued its attacks against Houthi rebels in Yemen on Thursday night. The liberal business daily Il Sole 24 Ore laments that the West has taken sides with Riyadh in the conflict: "This is about the strategic control of the region: on the one hand the world's biggest oil supplier, supported by the monarchies on the Gulf and the Arab League. On the other the ayatollahs' Iran: sponsor of the Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen and ally of Assad's regime, the government in Baghdad and Hizbollah in Lebanon. The latter is an axis of resistance against the [IS] caliphate, al-Qaeda and the Sunni regimes. … In theory the West should support the Shiites, who have taken sides against al-Qaeda and the caliphate, but instead it is backing the Sunni powers for reasons that are all too clear: from them we acquire our oil and gas, and to them we sell our weapons; they are participants and investors in our markets." (27/03/2015)

Hürriyet - Turkey

Only democracy helps against religious wars

Yet another religious war is flaring up in the Middle East in Yemen, the conservative daily Hürriyet laments: "The basic problem is that the Muslim world is still stuck in the Middle Ages in the 21st century. … The Sunni doctrine sees other religions as abnormal and applies many historical rules of Islamic law as if they were divine commandments. … At the same time the Shiite rebellion in Yemen testifies to a radicalisation and militarisation similar to that in the Sunni world. … It's clear that the legacy of Muslim law and religious doctrine needs to be examined and updated. … If people, regardless of their religion, aren't equal before the law, how can peaceful coexistence be possible? The prerequisite for this is clearly democracy and a secular rule of law." (27/03/2015)

Corriere del Ticino - Switzerland

Egypt can be force for order in Middle East

The states of the Arab League plan to discuss the creation of a joint permanent military force at their meeting on Saturday in Sharm el-Sheikh. Egypt's President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi has presented a draft agreement to this effect. The liberal daily Corriere del Ticino welcomes the idea: "The West, shocked by the Islamist extremism on its own doorstep, is desperately searching for a new custodian of the law in the Middle East. … Despite his semi-dictatorial demeanour such a man exists. He is sitting in Cairo, his name is Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi and he is the president of Egypt. Al-Sisi's Egypt wants to assume leadership of an Arab coalition against the [IS] caliphate. Together with Jordan it wants to build up an anti-extremist Islamic front - in the certainty that behind the IS's atrocities is the terrible idea of a Sharia dictatorship so cruel that even Khamenei's Iran would seem open and tolerant in comparison." (27/03/2015)

Jutarnji List - Croatia

Nuclear deterrent still works today

Putin's statement that Russia would have defended Crimea with nuclear weapons if necessary is to be understood as sabre-rattling - and doesn't change the fact that just threatening each other with the deployment of nuclear weapons has prevented the war of all wars up to now, the liberal daily Jutarnij List explains: "The nuclear balance [between the US and Russia] has only recently been achieved, with between 7,000 and 8,000 projectiles of varying calibre on both sides. … The knowledge that each side has the possibility to destroy the other still serves as the only basis for a balance based on deterrence and is the guarantee that we won't go under after all. … We shouldn't bring this bleak scenario out of balance; not with such empty threats either. … The global nuclear arsenal is the biggest paper tiger in contemporary history, and as such we should be good and leave it alone." (27/03/2015)

Le Jeudi - Luxembourg

France's left could offer voters more

The French left did not lose as many votes as the polls had predicted in the first round of the departmental elections on Sunday. The left-liberal weekly Le Jeudi explains how the Socialists can win back voters in future: "The events after the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the rallies in which four million people took part showed that republican values still have meaning for us. They created a dynamism of which the left should take advantage . ... It remains fragmented, however, caught up in divisions that are real enough but which could easily be overcome with a little common sense. Social issues, environmental protection, the distribution of wealth and work are all elements that should allow the left to get back on its feet and give new hope to all those who've expressed their anger by voting for the FN." (26/03/2015)

REFLECTIONS

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Delfi - Lithuania

Ramūnas Bogdanas on Putin's economic policy failure

March 26 marked the 15th anniversary of the start of Vladimir Putin's first term as Russian president. Journalist Ramūnas Bogdanas looks back in the liberal online portal Delfi: "The period right after Putin's election saw the start of the rise in oil prices, which brought Russia billions in additional income. While oil prices had stagnated at around 20 US dollars a barrel under Boris Yeltsin, they rose to around 140 dollars in the next ten years. ... In this way the Putin regime was able to buy itself tranquillity. The party paid for by oil revenues lasted almost 15 years. ... But at present the hangover is cutting in as a result of Putin's policies. The country's economy is rife with corruption and has been flagging for years, while the grand speeches about developing high technology and reducing dependence on raw material exports have not translated into deeds. ... Instead of trying to overcome stagnation with the help of foreign investments and on the global finance markets, Putin has got Ukraine by the throat, diverting the Russians' attention from the oncoming recession to the fight against an imaginary fascist enemy." (26/03/2015)

Blog EUROPP - United Kingdom

Luke March on the radical left's mobilisation problem

Why Europe's radical left is having a harder time capitalising on the consequences of the crisis than the radical right is the question political scientist Luke March's analyses on the London School of Economics' Blog EUROPP: "Gradual moderation [on the part of the radical left] to offer governing perspectives has often risked disappointing more radical supporters while failing to fully convince new voters and coalition partners that they mean business. ... At the same time the radical right often benefits more than the radical left, mainly because they are more ideologically flexible than the left and can appropriate left-wing arguments (defence of the welfare state, protection of workers) while the left often struggles to come up with a popular response to right-wing arguments. Repugnant though anti-immigration sentiment is, it can be electorally dynamic in a way that international solidarity is not." (25/03/2015)

ECONOMY

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Gazeta Polska Codziennie - Poland

Euro would be fatal for Poland

The Polish presidential candidate of the national conservative party PiS, Andrzej Duda, has warned in his election campaign against introducing the euro on the grounds that - as in Slovakia - such a move would cause food prices to rise rapidly. The conservative daily Gazeta Polska Codzienna also warns of the risks the single currency entails: "For Poland, where the average per capita monthly income is a shameful 1,340 złoty [335 euros], introducing the euro would be tantamount to suicide. The cost of living would increase massively. Furthermore our exports would lose their competitive edge. And they, in turn, are the key factor for economic growth. In addition, it would then no longer be possible to influence markets by setting a fixed exchange rate. And that would strip us of an important financial policy instrument. The liberal-conservative governing party PO believes we should abandon the złoty. This shows that they've lost touch with reality." (27/03/2015)

Diena - Latvia

Latvia right to introduce the euro

Latvia's Economics Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola said in a televised interview this week that the Baltic state would have avoided a financial disaster even if it had not introduced the euro at the start of the year. The liberal daily Diena holds the opposite view: "No doubt she wanted to remind us that Poland's economy is strong even though it doesn't have the euro. However the investment potential of the Polish market isn't comparable with that of Latvia. The Poles can do things that we cannot. In addition, the mantra about the Polish success story that was so popular two years ago has aged somewhat: the złoty has fluctuated considerably on the money markets, and there have been other problems too. So Poland is no example for what would have happened in Latvia if it had postponed joining the euro club." (27/03/2015)

Blog Mozgástér - Hungary

Quaestor bankruptcy: Orbán saved tax money

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is increasingly coming under fire in the scandal over the bankruptcy of brokerage group Quaestor. Apparently he withdrew state investments from the company shortly before its bankruptcy but failed to warn small investors. Political analyst Gerda Bunford defends Orbán's actions on the pro-government blog portal Mozgástér: "It wasn't the state's money that was taken out of the brokerage group but our money, in other words tax money. … Leaving tax money in a place that wasn't secure would have been a major mistake and grossly negligent. But thank God that didn't happen. And if the government had warned the people at that stage it would have been in vain anyway - the money was no longer with the brokerage group because it had already been squandered by the investment firms' top management long ago. Precisely for this reason the senior ruling party (Fidesz) recently drew up a law to compensate all the private individuals affected." (26/03/2015)

SOCIETY

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Politis - Cyprus

Cypriots have lost all faith in the state

A new case of squandered public funds has come to light in Cyprus. Over the next 50 years the state will pay 50 million euros in rent for a building used by the country's water utility company, although the building itself is worth just under 14 million. There have been so many such scandals that the people no longer dare to hope for anything, the liberal daily Politis laments: "Have we become addicted to scandals? Have we become used to the idea that more and more such monstrosities will come to light as our country goes down the drain? It is the people who suffer the consequences of this plundering of public assets. When will it be stopped? ... Our politicians act as if they don't understand the most basic things: that the people have lost all interest not only in them and their policies but also in everything else. That they've lost all hope." (26/03/2015)

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