Press review | 29/08/2014



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Kiev accuses Russia of invasion

Checkpoint in Mariupol: the Ukrainian army is currently focussing on defending the seaport. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


Kiev accused Moscow on Thursday of invading eastern Ukraine. Nato has also presented satellite images which allegedly show Russian military equipment in Ukraine. This is real war, the press writes in horror. While some commentators call for Kiev to be supplied with weapons others believe only the Russian people can stop Putin now.

Rzeczpospolita - Poland

Fatal naivety of the West

The naivety of the West in dealing with Putin is unbearable, the conservative daily Rzeczpospolita rails: "Now we have a real war on our hands. Putin has already crossed dozens of red lines yet many still considered him an excellent partner for a diplomatic solution to the conflict which he himself caused. One couldn't accuse the West of not reacting at all. ... But its faith in Putin's good will never disappeared. Now no politician worth his salt can believe that the president is really interested in de-escalation. ... The weaker the West's reaction, the further Putin will advance. It can't be ruled out that he'll send Russian tanks to Odessa or Kiev." (29/08/2014)

Der Standard - Austria

Hardly an alternative to war

The West must now consider direct military support for Kiev, the left-liberal daily Der Standard demands: "Weapons supplies, the stationing of Nato troops in Ukraine and even US airstikes against separatist bases and Russian supply chains - all these options should be weighed up in the next few days. This is extremely risky because Putin is not the type to pull back easily. The growing danger of war already poses a threat to the weak recovery in Europe; the bloodshed in Ukraine will continue and the tide of refuges will swell. And at the end of this process of escalation we face the prospect of a confrontation between two nuclear powers. ... But the alternatives are even worse. If Putin is allowed to turn eastern Ukraine into a second Crimea or Transnistria, the rest of Ukraine is in danger too, and the Baltic states and Poland would be the next in line." (29/08/2014)

De Telegraaf - Netherlands

Peace initiative wiser than arming Ukraine

The West has two options in the escalating Ukraine crisis, the conservative daily De Telegraaf writes: "It could quickly provide Ukraine with military equipment. Many experts say it should. But apart from the fact that a terrible bloodbath would ensue it's probably too late for such a step anyway. The second option, namely kowtowing to Putin, is too 'defeatist' for many. It would entail the West - with Europe at the forefront - organising a peace initiative as quickly as possible and conceding to the Kremlin's key demand: including the Donbas rebels in negotiations on the future of Ukraine. Without them any hopes for a quick peace are futile. ... Are the defenders of a hard line also willing to send their sons to the front? No one wants to ask themselves this question. But now we must." (29/08/2014)

De Standaard - Belgium

Russia follows different logic to Europe

The different business models in Russia and Europe make it difficult for European leaders to hit back at Vladimir Putin, the liberal daily De Standaard observes: "Europe's mercantile-based logic assumes that the pursuit of prosperity automatically brings about development. ... Freedom and democracy bring progress and growth. This idealism led Europe to support the charming revolution in Kiev nine months ago. But Putin is made of different stuff. He fosters the nationalism that feeds on his offended pride. The former superpower must be restored. And for that it must suffer, also economically, and violence is also legitimate. ... Europe is using weapons against this behaviour that hurt its own interests - this is increasingly clear. The sanctions are now costing the Eurozone 0.2 percent in growth. ... In an economic war Europe's leaders stand to lose more than Putin does." (29/08/2014)

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

Only the Russians can stop Putin

In all likelihood the people of Russia are the only ones who can put a stop to Putin now, the conservative daily Lidové noviny believes: "There's only one last chance to stop Putin, and that lies with the Russian people. With those who are currently infatuated with their leader. They may be aware that the path Putin's approach towards Europe only leads to a dead end. The zinc coffins carrying Russian soldiers are already arriving back home. Sociologists say only five percent of Russians agree with the invasion of Ukraine. That's because the Russians have a lot more qualms about shooting Ukrainians than about shooting Chechens. This fratricidal war weighs heavily on Russian souls. In fact this may be the cold-blooded politician Putin's biggest mistake. Let's hope so." (29/08/2014)


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Hürriyet - Turkey

Turkish opposition's disrespectful boycott

Turkey's biggest opposition party CHP left the plenary assembly hall in protest as the new president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was being sworn into office on Thursday. They criticise the fact that instead of stepping down as prime minister immediately after his victory in the president election, as stipulated in the constitution, Erdoğan waited two weeks to do so. Their accusations are justified but their boycott was tactless, the conservative daily Hürriyet concludes: "The act of leaving the hall and the catcalls from the benches were the wrong approach entirely. The opposition party's protest, which calls for the republic's customs and traditions to be respected, should have taken place after the swearing-in ceremony. ... The polarisation runs deep, and our culture of political debate is very dangerous. So rather than withdrawing his outstretched hand Erdoğan should should remain open to reconciliation as long as possible and defuse the tensions. For its part the opposition should also see to it that the tensions are lessened. This is necessary both for the sake of our democratic customs as well as to uphold the political spirit." (29/08/2014)

Corriere della Sera - Italy

Frontex Plus won't help refugees either

The EU border protection agency Frontex has announced a new programme to help Italy with the task of rescuing refugees on the Mediterranean Sea. "Frontex Plus" will be launched in November, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström said on Wednesday in Brussels after a meeting with Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano. Yet another chapter in the story of Europe's failed refugee policy, the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera contends: "Alfano assures us that the human traffickers' boats will be destroyed. Unfortunately destroying ships that are already junk is the only concrete measure our interior minister announced after the meeting. ... Quite apart from the fact that these boats already sink on their own with no help from anyone else, sinking them won't help to stem the tremendous flood of migrants. ... Even if we destroyed a thousand a month, the traffickers would lack neither boats nor refugees desperate enough to risk the journey. Instead of trying to thwart the middlemen, the people who control them must be stopped - the traffickers themselves." (29/08/2014)

Novi List - Croatia

Germany leading the Balkans into the EU

At the Conference of Western Balkan States German Chancellor Angela Merkely stressed the "European perspectives" of the former Yugoslavian states but warned that they must make progress with reforms and strengthen regional cooperation first. Under pressure from the Ukraine crisis and Croatia's and Slovenia's failures, Germany has now undertaken to lead the Balkan states into the EU, the left-liberal daily Novi List comments: "Germany is telling Zagreb and Llubljana that it has had enough of their flimsy excuses and unproductive struggle for dominance of the region. Croatia was expected to actively support Serbia and Bosnia on their path to EU membership, but the EU's newest member has failed utterly. This raises the question of whether Croatia, a total failure economically, has any real clout in the region." (29/08/2014)

Berliner Zeitung - Germany

Europe neglects the Balkans

German Chancellor Angela Merkel argued for swift integration of six more Balkan states into the EU at the Conference of Western Balkan States in Berlin. But the meeting was at best of symbolic value, the left-liberal daily Berliner Zeitung criticises: "From time to time you have to show everyone else in the Balkans that they're not being forgotten, that they're also wanted in the EU. That was the declared goal of the strange conference in Berlin to which Chancellor Merkel invited the leaders, foreign affairs and economy ministers of no less than eight countries yesterday. After two hours it was over already. But you're not doing anyone a favour by inviting dozens of dignitaries to a glorified photocall. On the contrary, you're making a show of your lack of interest. ... But the disinterest of the big EU states is just as much an invitation to step in for Putin - who wants to regain lost terrain and revert to the logic of spheres of influence - as it is for [Turkish President] Erdoğan." (29/08/2014)


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Le Figaro - France

French should finally work more hours

France's new Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said in an interview on Thursday that companies may be exempted from enforcing France's 35-hour week, in cooperation with the unions. It should be scrapped entirely, the conservative daily Le Figaro argues: "The idea behind reducing the number of working hours was to create jobs and improve the quality of life. Fifteen years later we know better: France is in the grips of mass unemployment and the situation has never been worse. Like our culture, the 35-hour week is seen as a French particularity that must be protected at all cost. This is completely crazy. If France wants to regain its place in the global competition it has no choice but to break with this taboo that increases both labour costs and deficits. The countries where unemployment is the lowest are those where people work the longest on average. Activity creates jobs." (29/08/2014)

Dienas Bizness - Latvia

Latvians worried about their chocolate

The oldest and biggest Latvian chocolate manufacturer was bought out on tuesday by the Norwegian conglomerate Orkla. The business paper Dienas bizness shares concerns about the long-established company's fate: "The fact that the best-loved Latvian chocolate brand is now in foreign hands is quite hard to swallow for many people. ... They wonder whether as part of a large conglomerate this Latvian chocolate will lose its flavour in the tough world of capitalism. The experts' exhortations that the Latvians only stand to gain from the deal is no consolation. Since the oldest brewery in the country, Aldaris, passed into Carlsberg's hands a substantial part of the production has been relocated to Estonia and Lithuania." (29/08/2014)


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Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland

West's egomaniacal reaction to Ebola

When presenting its emergency plan for containing the Ebola epidemic on Thursday in Geneva, the World Health Organistion (WHO) said it estimated that more than 20,000 people will be infected with the virus before it is brought under control. That is more than six times the amount of cases registered so far. The Tages-Anzeiger condemns the reaction of the international community: "Flights bringing medical staff and materials to West Africa are to be cancelled, and urgently needed experts and medications will remain in their own countries. When a foreign WHO employee gets infected in Sierra Leone, the entire laboratory where he was working is closed down: better to let a couple of hundred West Africans die than risk the life of another expat or a foreign expert. The egomaniacal boundary that separates 'them' from 'us' couldn't be crasser." (29/08/2014)

El País - Spain

Zara reveals ignorance about the Holocaust

Following protests, clothing chain Zara withdrew a top that strongly resembles the clothing worn by Jewish concentration camp internees from its children's range on Wednesday. Fashion companies can't afford to commit such blunders, the left-liberal daily El País writes in annoyance: "The company has apologised and said that the whole thing was a mistake. Obviously the stripes are different and the star has the word 'sheriff' on it rather than 'Jew', but the fact that it went on sale at all raises serious questions. There are things where it's important not to make mistakes. This is not about political correctness but about knowing the connotations certain clothing has. And paying the same attention to this aspect as was no doubt paid to calculating the production costs. If no one noticed the similarity it is perhaps because there is a lack of knowledge about the Holocaust." (29/08/2014)

Politiken - Denmark

Muslim organisations must stand up to IS

Thousands of Norwegian Muslims took to Oslo's streets on Monday to protest the terror and violence being committed in the name of Islam. The liberal daily Politiken calls on Muslims in Denmark to follow suit: "The Muslim organisations that represent the 230,000 Muslims living in this country can strengthen the battle against extremism if they adopt a clear stance against the atrocities. ... If they make it clear that the revulsion the violence provokes is a unifying element that transcends political and religious boundaries, this will strengthen these organisations and the respect they command. ... Muslims are very much affected by the crimes of the terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq, and the campaigns to recruit young men in Europe should set off the alarm bells. More than 100 persons have travelled from Denmark alone to fight in Syria, and many of them fall into the clutches of the terrorist group IS. It is therefore vital that Muslim organisations rise up against the IS." (29/08/2014)


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The Times - United Kingdom

Blatter era must not be prolonged

Uefa President Michel Platini announced on Thursday that he won't be running for the Fifa presidency next May. This leaves the way open for a fifth term of office for current Fifa President Joseph Blatter. That would be disastrous for football, the conservative daily The Times warns: "To host a World Cup in Qatar is a nonsense, and the kind of nonsense that only an organisation so infected by venality could have produced. Corruption is destructive wherever it occurs. Only history will show how personally implicated Mr Blatter has been in some of Fifa's most controversial incidents, but under his specific guidance the governance of international football has fallen into disrepute. Mr Blatter's presidency must be ended before the so-called beautiful game is rendered irreparably ugly." (28/08/2014)

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