Press review | 01/12/2015



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New EU accession prospects for Turkey

Of the 14 chapters in the membership negotations process that have been opened so far only one has been concluded. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


In exchange for stepped-up border protection, the EU has offered Ankara to open a new chapter in its accession negotiations. Turkey is still a long way from fulfilling the requirements for EU membership, some commentators argue. Others see the offer as the only way to save the Schengen Agreement.

Helsingin Sanomat - Finland

Accession still distant prospect for Ankara

Turkey still has a long way to go before it can join the EU, writes the liberal daily Helsingin Sanomat: "The EU has promised to speed up the membership negotiations with Turkey, which have proceeded at a snail's pace so far. The problem with this promise is that Turkey has moved further and further away from the membership criteria in recent years. If the human rights and democracy criteria are to be maintained in any way, today's Turkey has no place in the EU. If Turkey proceeds on its current path there won't be any reason to open the EU's doors to it in the future either." (01/12/2015)

Sydsvenskan - Sweden

Democratic Turkey would be welcome

The EU must now keep a close eye on Turkey, the liberal daily Sydsvenskan urges: "There is a clear risk that in its hurry to solve the refugee crisis, the EU will turn a blind eye to human rights violations and to the Copenhagen criteria for EU accession. That must not happen. Turkey should be welcome in the EU circle of partner countries - once it's mature enough. But that objective is still a long way off for a country that refuses to speak of the 1915 Armenian genocide, that has failed to find a solution to the conflict with the Kurdish PKK, and that ranks 149th out of 180 countries on the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index. The EU has learned its lesson from taking in a divided Cyprus in 2004 and from allowing Romania and Bulgaria to join in 2007 although they had not done their human rights and anti-corruption homework. The EU must have clearly defined limits." (01/12/2015)

La Stampa - Italy

The only way to save Schengen

Resuming membership talks with Turkey is the right way to save the Schengen agreement and correct the mistakes of the past, writes the liberal daily La Stampa: "The European strategy of managing (not resolving) the refugee crisis consists of strengthening the EU's borders to avoid having to rebuild internal borders. This is the only way to save Schengen. … Turkey's support is indispensable here. A month ago Brussels already promised it financial aid. The real novelty from Sunday is the willingness to resume the membership talks. Europe was largely responsible for Ankara's move towards Europe coming to a halt. Brussels let Turkey into the waiting room - and then left it there." (01/12/2015)

Yeni Şafak - Turkey

Turks don't even want to join EU any more

The promise of visa-free travel and the resumption of EU accession negotiations come too late for Turkey, the pro-government Islamic-conservative daily Yeni Şafak believes: "Ten years ago this would have caused a huge stir here, but today that's no longer the case. However, the EU still believes we'd die for visa-free access. Europe has adopted such an ill-advised, malicious and unsuccessful policy vis-à-vis the Islamic world and Turkey that it wouldn't even cause a sensation if the EU came right out and offered us membership. The Islamic world and Turkey have had enough of loving and worshipping Europe. But the EU still hasn't caught on to that fact." (01/12/2015)


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The Guardian - United Kingdom

British bombs over Syria will only help IS

British Prime Minister David Cameron is putting UK participation in airstrikes against the IS militants in Syria to the vote in the House of Commons today. The MPs are widely expected to vote in favour but the centre-left daily The Guardian opposes the move, arguing that there is still no agreement on what should be done about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad: "There is no clear vision of the role Britain or our allies envisage for Assad. Without it, Syria's Sunnis may conclude that the outside world has made a devil's pact with the dictator who has done the lion's share of the slaughtering of their people: the anger that verdict will prompt will only entrench Isis further. Even if Isis were ousted, who do we imagine will take its place?" (30/11/2015)

Die Welt - Germany

Germany's Syria mission lacks clear mandate

The German cabinet approved a military mission with German troops in Syria on Tuesday. The Bundestag will start discussing the mandate on Wednesday. The government's mandate seeks support not only for France, but also for Iraq and the international alliance. The plan is faulty, the conservative daily Die Welt believes: "Any country that sends soldiers to war has a duty to provide a clear legal justification, backed up by security policy reasoning and mission objectives. None of that is to be found in the draft mandate. For lack of a suitable mandate from the UN Security Council, various resolutions have been cobbled together willy-nilly. ... In this way the government is having us stumble awkwardly into an adventure with no clear outcome. Germany is not a play-maker here, but is adapting to France's expectations. That opens it up to being taken in by Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has a clear interest in this conflict, namely his influence in the Middle East." (01/12/2015)

Právo - Czech Republic

Hollande following in George W. Bush's footsteps

With his resolute stance after the terror attacks in Paris French President François Hollande is reminiscent of former US president George W. Bush after 9/11, the left-leaning daily Právo writes: "Much like Bush, he declared with great pathos that his country was now at war with a cruel, lowly enemy. The words he used harked back to the American Patriot Act of October 2001. Like Bush Jr., Hollande sent armed forces into the country where the terror was planned. Syria is for Hollande what Afghanistan was for Bush. ... The weak president of not so long ago, more unpopular than any of his predecessors, is suddenly playing the role of marshal with vigour and dedication. Whether this approach will be successful will only become clear with time - as will the results of his grand diplomatic tour to the world's most powerful leaders." (01/12/2015)

To Vima Online - Greece

"Twittergate" typical of Tsipras

Critical tweets about the downing of a Russian fighter jet by the Turkish military were sent from Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's Twitter account during the EU summit on Sunday. Tsipras's press agency has said that the tweets were mistakenly sent by employees. The liberal online paper To Vima accuses Tsipras and his team of habitual imprudence on foreign affairs: "Clearly he wanted to play the wise guy, writing about jumpy Turkish pilots on Twitter. … The Greek prime minister may consider himself an expert on internal party intrigues, but in foreign policy you have to be careful. … The worst thing about it is that Tsipras reacted in the same way he always does when he has said something wrong in public: he withdrew his comment and tried to cover up the affair. … When it comes to foreign policy Mr Tsipras and his closest advisers should be more cautious, keep themselves up to date and talk less." (30/11/2015)


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Le Figaro - France

Better than the palaver of 10,000 technocrats

Former Microsoft chief Bill Gates presented his Breakthrough Energy Coalition at the opening of the Climate Change Conference on Monday in Paris. The investment fund wants to support companies that develop and market solutions for the use of renewable energies. The conservative daily Le Figaro is delighted that private entrepreneurs are finally taking the initiative: "Treaties and laws make it possible to act collectively so that the efforts made here won't be ruined by a tolerated lack of concern elsewhere. But if the states have the brake in their hands, the motor is in the hands of the businessmen. Just as the industrial revolution accelerated the pollution of our planet, in the same way salvation will come no doubt through an economic revolution driven by technological innovation. That is why the clean energy initiative by Bill Gates and thirty other high tech billionaires will nourish more hope than the palaver in Paris of 10,000 technocrats." (01/12/2015)

Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland

Poland can afford climate protection

Prime Minister Beata Szydło announced on Monday at the UN climate talks in Paris that Poland would contribute eight million dollars to the OECD states' climate change fund. But she must also reform the economy at home, the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza demands: "Scientifically there is no doubt that the global warming that represents one of the biggest threats is man-made. Poland should see global warming as an opportunity and act wisely. We must slowly begin to convert our old-fashioned and harmful energy sector to renewable energy sources (wind, sun, biogas, water, geothermal energy). We can certainly secure funding from the EU for this. No one expects us to manage the turnaround from one day to the next. But we should at least forge a plan for the reform and implement it too. … The claim that only rich states can afford such renewable energies is completely unfounded." (01/12/2015)

Phileleftheros - Cyprus

Cyprus must lure Russians away from Turkey now

After Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has advised his countrymen in recent weeks not to go on holiday to Turkey. Now Cyprus should redouble its efforts to attract Russian tourists, the liberal daily Phileleftheros recommends: "Estimates put the amount of money Russian tourists inject into the Turkish economy each year at 1.4 percent of its GDP. So these are well-off tourists who spend the kind of money we desperately need. The main thing now is to suggest to those who are already in Turkey and others who have booked excursion packages or are planning to travel to Turkey that they travel to a neighbouring country instead. … But our prices, which are high compared to those in other neighbouring countries, are ruining our chances and prospects. Let us not be foolish and spoil our own good luck." (30/11/2015)


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Jurnalul National - Romania

At last more pay for Romanian public servants

Starting this month public sector employees in Romania will receive a 10 percent pay rise and those in the health sector 25 percent more pay. Journalist Adrian Măniuțiu sees the step as long overdue in the daily newspaper Jurnalul National: "Do we want an efficient state? Then we must pay people better - that's a simple fact. Because without good pay you can't find good workers. The public sector must be made just as attractive as the private sector for employees. I know that costs an enormous amount of money. But those costs are relative. In this case I would see them as an investment that will pay off hugely in the future. Salaries must increase further, but progressively, and productivity bonuses should be introduced as soon as possible. At the same time the number of public employees should be reduced. And those who don't do their job properly should be dismissed." (30/11/2015)

De Volkskrant - Netherlands

Municipalities should be allowed to grow cannabis

The Association of Dutch Municipalities called on Monday for marijuana cultivation to be legalised. As things stand now the selling of small amounts of hashish is tolerated, but growing marijuana is forbidden and coffee shops are forced to acquire their supplies illegally. The centre-left daily De Volkskrant supports legalisation: "The cultivation and sale of hashish is increasingly tied up with the production and trafficking of hard drugs. The consequences are plain to see: large-scale cultivation of hash damages the environment, the product itself is contaminated with harmful substances, and the growers have become a superpower that has no qualms about intimidating the authorities. … The parliament should make it possible for the municipalities to seek a practical alternative. … That less-than-ideal alternative is preferable to the current ban on soft drugs and the tolerance policy in which only the criminals have any faith nowadays." (01/12/2015)

Magyar Idők - Hungary

Exodus to Europe: A hostile takeover from the former colonies

Europe is facing a wave of migration that is the result of centuries of exploitation in its former colonies, writes the pro-government daily Magyar Idők: "The inhabitants of the former colonies are coming with good reason; after all, for hundreds of years they were exploited by countries that are now rich. They want to reclaim their own goods and resources, their rightful inheritance. The time has come for this: they have been told that Europe is dead. Both biologically and ideologically the Europeans are neither capable of reproducing nor able to believe in anything any more. … Those who are marching on Europe from the colonies are happy because they see themselves as the chosen ones: they will create a new empire: Eurabia. With Muslim inhabitants, huge mosques and incredible amounts of money." (30/11/2015)


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Rzeczpospolita - Poland

Hamburg's no to Olympics is part of a trend

In a referendum on the weekend the citizens of Hamburg voted against the city's bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games. A growing number of people are taking a critical view of huge sporting events, the conservative daily Rzeczpospolita comments: "This rejection is further proof that as the world experiences one shock after the next, sport is also in a crisis - not just due to doping and corruption. It's very hard to convince people that the Games are a great honour from which they stand to gain. Because anyone who does their homework knows that that's not how things stand. These two-week parties are bound up with huge expenses that always seem to put a larger burden on the budget than planned. … The people are simply no longer willing to accept that the costs for these huge events should be borne by the host countries and municipalities while sports federations like the IOC, Fifa and Uefa rake in most of the profits." (01/12/2015)

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