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Press review | 04/09/2015

 

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Orbán calls refugee crisis Germany's problem

None of the refugees want to remain in Hungary and most want to go to Germany, Orbán said. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

Visiting Brussels on Thursday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán described the refugee crisis as a German and not a European problem. In Budapest, meanwhile, the situation at Keleti train station is escalating. The German government prompted refugees to storm trains by announcing its willingness to take them in, some commentators write. Others believe that with his egoistic policies Orbán will soon isolate himself in the EU.

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

Budapest can't please its EU partners

Germany is to blame for the catastrophic situation in Hungary, writes the conservative daily Lidové noviny, defending the Hungarian prime minister: "The answer to the question of who is to blame for this unfortunate situation is Germany, and specifically Angela Merkel. Her announcement that Germany would take in every refugee from Syria triggered thousands of calls of 'Germany, Germany!' at the train station in Budapest. After consulting Berlin Hungary sent trains full of people to Germany. … But then the Germans said that the chancellor's words had been misunderstood. … Hungary is in an unenviable position. If it lets migrants into the country and thus into the EU, that's bad. If it builds a fence to keep these people out, that's also bad. If it allows the refugees to travel to Germany it is making a mistake. But it is also wrong to keep them there so as not to violate EU laws. And no one has a clue how to swiftly resolve this crisis." (04/09/2015)

La Stampa - Italy

Fortress Hungary has no future

Nationalist and populist policies like Viktor Orbán's are doomed to fail, the liberal daily La Stampa predicts: "How many days does Orbán think he can keep migrants at the train station in Budapest who have proper train tickets to Germany, where Merkel has made preparations for their arrival? This cynical and dangerous operation aimed at concealing the fact that the construction of the fence on the border with Serbia was pointless will backfire on the Hungarian prime minister. It is just a matter of time before he capitulates. It will prove that it's one thing to call for deportation and demand that the borders be closed to migrants from the opposition benches, but quite another to put such policies into practice. … At the next EU summit Orbán will have to chose between a supposed Fortress Hungary and the loss of the rights an EU member state enjoys. Orbán will no doubt have a hard time explaining to his voters that the EU funds are drying up." (04/09/2015)

Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland

Orbán exploiting refugees

The Hungarian police on Thursday stopped a train carrying around 300 refugees in the Budapest suburb of Bicske, and brought them to a reception centre. The situation apparently escalated after officers ordered the refugees to leave the train. Orbán is exploiting the refugees in his country to put pressure on Brussels, the centre-left daily Tages-Anzeiger criticises: "What has gone on at Budapest's Keleti train station in the last few days and what happened on Thursday at the train station in Bicske has nothing to do with overburdened state organs and the lack of a common European refugee policy. It is a cold-blooded attempt to blackmail the European Union using men, women and children from Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. And it can hardly be a coincidence that the police caused chaos by suddenly withdrawing on the very day that the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was in Brussels for talks. The police must be aware that the rush on the platforms and at the doors of the train wagons can be a life-threatening situation. The lives of the refugees were deliberately put at risk for political ends." (04/09/2015)

Frankfurter Rundschau - Germany

Eastern Europe needs help, not recriminations

Just criticising Orbán's refugee policy is not enough, the centre-left daily Frankfurter Rundschau writes, calling for more support for the countries of Eastern Europe on asylum policy: "Ranting about Eastern Europe's jetlagged social policy is one thing. But remembering how long German society needed to get this far is another. Just think back to the German asylum debate in 1993. Europe finally needs political management of this crisis. The thing to do now is not - as in the case of Greece in the euro crisis - to push through a given policy. What the states of Eastern Europe need is support - not just financial aid, but also practical help regarding how to deal with immigration, from education policy to inter-religious dialogue. German communities could give them that support. And if they can talk about the mistakes they themselves have made in integration policy, so much the better." (04/09/2015)

POLITICS

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Le Vif/L'Express - Belgium

Refugees not to blame for social system crisis

The head of the nationalist New Flemish Alliance Bart De Wever said last week on the Flemish radio that social benefits for refugees should be cut. Such a statement is counterproductive and shameless, Ewald Pironet, editor of the Flemish weekly magazine Knack, writes in the weekly Le Vif/L'Express: "Anyone who suggests that refugees are 'benefiting' from our social security system and that they are only after 'money' without doing anything in return harms not only the debate on refugees but also the discussion about our social welfare programme. The fact is, however, that it's not really the refugees who are burdening our welfare system. For decades now it has been put sorely to the test by excessive healthcare spending and welfare fraud. And we ourselves are to blame for that. … Those who are now suggesting that our social security system is buckling under the flood of refugees are themselves guilty of abject populism." (03/09/2015)

Latvijas Avīze - Latvia

Europe should stop showing how much money it has

The fact that so many refugees are leaving Africa to make their way to Europe is not least a result of the generous development aid programmes having revealed how much wealth there is in Europe, rails the national conservative daily Latvijas avīze: "The Africans have realised that Europe has money! And the European politicians don't want to admit that it's not refugees fleeing war sitting in the boats but above all economic migrants, and that their arrival is the result of years of EU policy. … Until he annexed Crimea the politicians in Europe didn't want to see Putin's real face either. After some time the refugee crisis will force the politicians to reassess the real reasons for the migration. Let's see whether they manage to share out the consequences of their misguided policies fairly among themselves by then." (04/09/2015)

Financial Times - United Kingdom

Election brings Grexit closer

Around two weeks before its new elections the outlook is not good for Greece, the conservative daily Financial Times believes: "Greece faces one of two prospects. The first is a Syriza-led government, in which the dominant party must work with coalition partners it dislikes to implement a foreign-imposed reform programme it dislikes even more. The second is a New Democracy-led government, made up of parties that were largely responsible for the mess and have shown little capacity to clean it up. One way or another, the uncertainty created by the election will stall reforms, delay debt relief, threaten recovery and resurrect the spectre of Grexit." (03/09/2015)

Kristeligt Dagblad - Denmark

Israel must end suffering in Gaza

A UN report on the situation in the Gaza Strip warns that the area could be uninhabitable by 2020. The Christian daily Kristeligt Dagblad outlines how the situation could be changed: "The population could feed itself much more effectively if it was given the opportunity to do so. In the past many Palestinians worked in Israel, on the other side of the now almost entirely sealed fence. The youths in Gaza, like a growing number of young people on the West Bank, are being radicalised by record unemployment and increasing isolation. Israel can do much to relieve this humanitarian crisis by easing economic sanctions and opening borders. That country bears the responsibility for not allowing Gaza's civil population to go to rack and ruin. There can be no peace as long as Israel occupies the West Bank and blocks Gaza. And there can be no peace until the Palestinians renounce violence and terror and recognise Israel's right to exist." (04/09/2015)

ECONOMY

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Jornal de Negócios - Portugal

Draghi's words alone won't save the Eurozone

In view of the downturn in the Chinese economy, the ECB plans to extend its bond-buying programme if necessary to stimulate Europe's economy, ECB president Mario Draghi announced on Thursday. The liberal business daily Jornal de Negócios voices doubts whether his promises will be enough to reverse the trend: "Draghi's power resides primarily in his words. … His statement that everything necessary would be done to fight low inflation and prevent the Eurozone from slipping further was enough to stop the downwards trend. But whether Draghi's money press will be able to counter the impact of the Chinese downturn on Europe's economy is a completely different matter. It will take a lot of consumption and investment. Everything remains in danger if the Chinese import less, the economic performance of countries like Brazil and Russia sinks further and countries like Angola, whose wealth is based on oil, don't emerge from their crises." (04/09/2015)

Le Monde - France

Europe needs an agricultural turnaround

The French government on Thursday announced a new aid package for cattle breeders in the wake of massive protests by farmers. But the industrial meat packers will be the ones who benefit most from the package, six French Green Party politicians write in the centre-left daily Le Monde, and call for a Europe-wide debate on alternative farming: "With each reform the people call for a common agrarian policy that protects, regulates and responds to the expectations of today's society. Alternative models based on proximity and quality have shown that they lead to social and economic progress, improved environmental protection and job creation. It's time the farmers and citizens formulated a true agricultural and food pact to promote such models. ... That includes among other things an end to funding for unhealthy industrial food products." (03/09/2015)

SOCIETY

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Newsweek Polska - Poland

Germany morphs from Auschwitz into promised land

German authorities are gearing up to take in 800,000 refugees this year, roughly 40 percent of those coming to Europe. With this show of solidarity the country is demonstrating that it has made a historic transition, Jacek Pawlicki writes in wonder in the liberal news magazine Newsweek Polska: "The refugees at Keleti train station in Budapest call out hopefully 'Germany, Germany'. And banners can be seen on the TV with the words in pidgin English: 'German, save us'. When I hear and see such things, I think that history has taken a significant turn. Today Germany is the promised land for the poor and oppressed - as the US once was. This country that provoked two tragic wars in the 20th century and organised the Holocaust has learned its lesson from history. Without wanting to rewrite its past, it is proving with deeds that such things will not happen again." (04/09/2015)

Protagon - Greece

The Greeks' rude awakening

Three weeks after the parliament in Athens approved new austerity measures and the creditors' terms the liberal website Protagon describes the mood in the country: "For some months, perhaps even more than a year, the Greek people were drunk with the promises and visions of a gifted demagogue. … At the height of their rapture more than 62 percent of them voted for Greece's independence and sovereignty, for its independence from the evil foreigners. … And then all of a sudden we had a rude awakening. The world was not what the talented orator had promised. The country was in an even worse economic situation than before (our proud negotiations cost us another 60 billion euros), the banks were closed, there was no magician to bring us gifts and the austerity programme turned out to be the only solution." (04/09/2015)

MEDIA

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Jutarnji List - Croatia

Only unbearable pictures can shake us awake

Only photos like that of the dead little boy Aylan al Kurdi can shake Europe and the world out of their indifference, writes Croatian author Miljenko Jergović in the liberal daily Jutarnji list: "We will not be forgiven for the death of Aylan al Kurdi. That's what the photographs are for. The photographer's lens is the eye of the human conscience. That is why such images should be published in newspapers. They should be shown on bulletin boards. They are unbearable for anyone who has a soul. Their unbearableness is one of the few weapons that peacemakers have. … Only the unbearableness of these photos and all the terrible and painful photos to come can move the world to show real solidarity. Aylan and Ghalib didn't need refugee centres with barbed wire and they didn't need the economic prosperity the Europeans are so fiercely guarding. … They needed their homes, their teddy bears and lives like those their parents led." (04/09/2015)

Hürriyet - Turkey

Vietnam War also stopped by a photo

The image of the body of the Syrian refugee boy Aylan on the beach near Bodrum in Turkey has gone around the world since Tuesday. It has the power to change our perception of the war, writes the conservative daily Hürriyet: "This photo should be blown up and hung in the offices of every politician in the world! Because it sears itself indelibly into the retina of anyone who's human. We see on the television and read in the papers 'Ten dead, among them four children'. The number of fatalities is listed day after day under the heading Refugee Drama. The fact that we have grown used to this suffering is the accursed consequence of such repetition. If it hadn't been for this photo, who could have explained the suffering caused by the war? ... If everyone condemns the war today, it shows once again the documentary power of a photo. Remember, it was also one image that did the most to end the Vietnam War." (04/09/2015)

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