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Press review | 28/08/2014

 

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Disappointment after Ukraine talks in Minsk

According to reports from Kiev, fighting in the Donetzk and Luhansk area has again led to more than a dozen deaths. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

The fighting continues unabated in Ukraine even after the crisis meeting in Minsk between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko. Moreover the US government has reported the presence of a Russian military convoy in the south-east of the country. The summit achieved nothing, commentators write, concluding that part of Donbas is already lost.

Jornal de Negócios - Portugal

The war rages on

The meeting between the Ukrainian and Russian presidents failed to produce any results, the liberal business daily Jornal de Negócios laments: "Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko greeted each other in Belarus, but the whirlwind of war continues to advance and destroy any hopes of peace. ... The insecurity that this war brings forms the decisive framework for political negotiations on the Ukraine-Russia conflict. In the short term they will also be influenced by the new balance of power which emerges from the election of the parliament in Kiev and next week's Nato summit in Cardiff." (28/08/2014)

Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

Part of Donbas is already lost

The Ukrainian army is too weak to hold on to eastern Ukraine and Poroshenko's government has only one option, the left-liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung writes in view of the reported invasion by Russian soldiers: "For better or for worse, it must tell the population that the part of the Donbas that's still in the hands of the pro-Russian forces is lost - either because reconquering it would cost too many lives and only exacerbate the tensions with Moscow, or because negotiations really were carried out with the separatists but they hardly stand a chance of resulting in the implementation of Poroshenko's peace plan. This plan foresees amendments to the constitution, the protection of the Russian language and new jobs in the region, and that's as it should be. However it would entail the separatists handing the decision-making authority over Donbas back to Kiev. And by the looks of things there's precious little chance of them doing that." (28/08/2014)

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

Europe betraying Ukraine

Luboš Dobrovský, former Czech defence minister and ambassador to Moscow, harshly criticises the West's diplomacy in the conservative daily Lidové noviny, saying it reminds him of the treacherous behaviour of the Western powers towards Czechoslovakia in 1938: "There is no clear stance and no concerted action. Instead we keep hearing that only a 'realpolitik' based on the Munich model can prevent a new cold war and a hot war between Russia and Ukraine. As if the war hadn't already broken out, as if there were no Russian soldiers fighting alongside the separatists with weapons smuggled from Russia. As if Russian soldiers hadn't received medals long ago for their successful preparation and execution of the forced annexation of Crimea - or in other words Ukrainian territory. ... At the meeting in Minsk not only Ukraine lost, but also the West." (28/08/2014)

Komsomolskaja Prawda - Russia

Global perspectives: West leaves eastern Ukrainian civilians in the lurch

Russia plans to send a second aid convoy to Ukraine, according to its foreign ministry. The Russian pro-government tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda complains that the West is keener to criticise Russia than to do something to help: "All the facts prove that a humanitarian crisis has broken out in the southeast of Ukraine. Every day peaceful civilians are killed and the survivors are cut off from all supplies. ... Western diplomacy is trying to convince the international community that Russia is to blame for all these events. Well, that's their opinion. But where is the help from Europe and the US? ... The civilised world is closing its eyes to the suffering of these people. ... The girls from Pussy Riot deserved the world's attention. But the girls that are lying dead on the street in Luhansk and Donetzk apparently do not." (28/08/2014)

POLITICS

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La Vanguardia - Spain

Ceasefire strengthens Palestinians

Israel and the militant Palestinian groups agreed on an indefinite ceasefire on Tuesday. Only the Palestinians have emerged politically stronger from the conflict, the conservative daily La Vanguardia comments: "For many Israelis the ceasefire is a concession that hurts the credibility of their prime minister, who saw his popularity ratings plummet from 82 to 38 during the conflict. ... Meanwhile for the Palestinians the ceasefire is an opportunity to regroup politically if the agreement reached between the Palestinian National Authority and Hamas before the conflict holds. Mahmoud Abbas, who played a key role in the mediation efforts together with Qatar and Egypt, could emerge strengthened from the war if he manages to ensure that the ceasefire is maintained, and could even pave the way for the creation of a Palestinian state." (28/08/2014)

Libération - France

France's left committing political suicide

With the French cabinet reshuffle the Socialists are doing their utmost to commit political suicide, the left-liberal daily Libération believes: "In 2014 the French left is committing hara-kiri. It's slitting its belly open just like the German left did in the 30s. The worrying economic conditions, a catastrophic social situation, terrible results in the by-elections and ominous opinion polls all seem to sound the death knell for the party. Certainly, France was in pretty bad shape even before François Hollande became president and Manual Valls prime minister. But now it's even worse off. ... François Mitterrand was perhaps not really on the left, but no one doubted his stature as president. Today the majority is falling apart. ... The left in this country is a desperate minority, only held together by sturdy institutions." (28/08/2014)

Radikal - Turkey

Erdoğan remains AKP's leader

The ruling AKP unanimously voted for Ahmet Davutoğlu as its new leader and prime minister at its party conference on Wednesday. His predecessor Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will be sworn in as Turkish president today, Thursday. The hierarchy is clearly defined, the liberal daily Radikal believes: "In his speech yesterday Erdoğan stressed that his new post was not an ending but a beginning. His message can be summed up as 'Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere'. He will move into the Çankaya presidential palace and must give up the party leadership as stipulated by the constitution, but he is the leader. ... This is why Davutoğlu felt compelled to say 'There won't be any disagreements between the president and the prime minister.' ... At the conference it was clear to everyone that the AKP is still Erdoğan's party and that Davutoğlu has taken on a major challenge: namely keeping the party's 50 percent share of the vote." (28/08/2014)

Etelä-Suomen-Sanomat - Finland

Finland and Sweden on path to Nato membership

Sweden and Finland will sign a host nation support agreement with Nato within the next weeks. This will enable the Alliance to deploy troops to the two Nordic countries, which will then be tasked with their maintenance and logistics. Nato membership is moving closer, the liberal daily Etelä-Suomen Sanomat comments: "No doubt about it, even if the host nation agreement deepens both Finland's and Sweden's ties to Nato, it still doesn't make them members of the military alliance. And as long as they don't belong to Nato they can't hope for any security guarantees. Nonetheless, the host country agreement shouldn't be underrated. By improving the conditions for taking in and supplying Nato troops in a crisis it makes Finland and Sweden more compatible with Nato. This makes the path to Nato membership and the security guarantees it entails shorter than it was." (28/08/2014)

Deutsche Welle - Romania

Romanians don't need a whining opposition

Romania's government wants to give MPs two weeks to switch parties without losing their seat in parliament. The cabinet is due to decide on a corresponding decree on Thursday. The Romanian service of the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle is disappointed by the opposition's response: "All we see from the opposition is the same old knee-jerk reaction of a political minority that has no other means at its disposal than to appeal to the authorities. ... But appeals of this sort only convey the impression that the opposition is weak and incompetent. ... Instead of mobilising the Romanian voting public, they turn to the West like they've been doing for the past 25 years. Instead of jostling for terrain with the [governing] PSD, they're running for outside help. That gives a pitiful impression because what voters want is determined politicians who've got what it takes to govern, not a bunch of whiners." (28/08/2014)

REFLECTIONS

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Al Jazeera - Qatar

Global perspectives: IS more dangerous for Mid East than for West

The growing power of the IS militias in Iraq and Syria poses a far greater threat to the people of the Middle East than to those in the West, columnist Sunny Hundal writes on the blog of the Arabic news channel Al Jazeera: "In the eyes of many jihadis, the Islamic State has established the most successful and feared caliphate in recent history. That in itself has spurred many to join it. The immediate goal of the Islamic State is to forcefully take over other Arab states and bring their subjects under their own banner. The murder of Americans such as James Foley is meant to shock the world, to bring attention and attract more support. But make no mistake: The real threat from the Islamic State is to other Muslims in the Middle East. Sooner or later people across the Middle East will have to face up to this threat." (27/08/2014)

ECONOMY

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Lost in EUrope - Belgium

Only Merkel sets the tone in Europe

The new head of the Eurogroup is also to be chosen at the EU summit on Saturday. The fact that Angela Merkel has spoken out in favour of Luis de Guindos points to a new Berlin-Madrid axis, writes Eric Bonse on his blog Lost in Europe: "At the same time as the French government is falling apart because a minister dared to criticise Merkel, the chancellor is giving Paris a kick in the behind. ... The fact that the public debt exploded and unemployment reached disastrous proportions under De Guindo plays no role whatsoever. All that counts is that Madrid obediently followed Berlin's requirements. ... Apparently a new axis is emerging. For a while it looked as if Paris and Rome, arm in arm with the SPD in Berlin, could put an end to the EU's policy of austerity. There was even a meeting between Montebourg and SPD leader Gabriel that got a lot of attention in the media. But with Monteboug's dismissal all that is history. Since criticism of Merkel started to be deemed lèse-majesté even in Paris, and punished as such, it's once again clear just who sets the tone in Europe." (28/08/2014)

The Independent - United Kingdom

France needs a dose of Thatcherism

Three prominent representatives of the left wing of France's Socialist party have been left without seats in the cabinet following the reshuffle. Now Paris must implement reforms without further delay, the left-liberal daily The Independent urges: "Hollande and his new team need some radically different policies if they are to succeed. ... As Sarkozy could at least recognise, France, like much of the rest of the eurozone, desperately needs to free up her labour market; to shrink the size of the state; to relieve business of burdensome regulation; and to scrap her chauvinistic industrial policy, which deters foreign investment. A dose, in other words, of Anglo-Saxon Thatcherism as well as the 'German' austerity is required - alien notions feared and loathed across France." (27/08/2014)

SOCIETY

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Pravda - Slovakia

Slovakia too lax with right-wing extremists

Slovakia commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Slovak national uprising against Nazi Germany on Friday. While this event receives due acknowledgement, the judiciary is far too lax towards today's right-wing extremists, the left-leaning daily Pravda comments: "We can commemorate this anniversary today with all the solemnity it deserves. And last year a law was passed that accorded the anti-fascist resistance fighters the acknowledgement they deserve. ... This makes the condescending attitude of certain institutions regarding the spread of right-wing extremist views all the more alarming. The investigation of the murder of an anti-fascist student in Bratislava has dragged on for nine years, for example. And it took two years for a youth from Banská Bystrica to be sentenced to pay a ridiculous 200-euro fine for making the Nazi salute. ... Such extremism shows us that the uprising is still relevant for us today." (28/08/2014)

Kapu - Hungary

Hungarian ex-foreign minister not a true hero

Gyula Horn, Hungary's foreign minister during the collapse of communism, is still regarded as one of the heroes of the fall of the Berlin Wall in Germany. In the monthly magazine Kapu, journalist György Hábel criticises Horn for using sensationalist tactics to attain his glory 25 years ago: "Horn always pushed his way to the fore. A notable example of this was the symbolic opening of the Austrian-Hungarian border near Sapron and Ágfalva with his Austrian counterpart Alois Mock [in June 1989]. ... In this way all the credit for the border opening of 1989 fell to Gyula Horn: Horn received the Order of Merit in Germany in 1990, and it is Horn whom the German press even today hails as the driving force behind the opening of the border and pioneer of German reunification. Meanwhile the former prime minister Miklós Németh (1988-1990), who was the real figure behind the opening of the border, had to wait 20 years to receive an order of merit from the German state." (28/08/2014)

24 Chasa - Bulgaria

Bulgaria's villages soon holiday destinations

Three quarters of Bulgaria's 5,000 villages have lost a considerable proportion of their population since the collapse of communism, according to a recent study by the country's National Statistical Institute. The daily 24 Chasa nevertheless believes the villages in the traditional agricultural countryside could be on track for a renaissance: "What happened in Toscany and Umbria will also happen here. Practically no one lived there after World War II and Italian industrialisation. But at the start of the 70s the Italians, Germans, Austrians and others discovered the deserted towns and transformed them into holiday destinations. With them came jobs, and life returned to the villages. In Bulgaria a similar process is taking place, even if it's still in its initial stages. ... In any event there's no reason to give up hope. Life runs its course, and the villages of Bulgaria also have their lives to live." (27/08/2014)

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