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Press review | 29/06/2015

 

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Debt dispute escalates

Banks will remain closed all week to avoid a collapse of the Greek finance system. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

After the announcement by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that he will put the creditors' reform requirements to a referendum, the Euro Group wants to end the bailout programme on Tuesday. Tsipras had no choice but to hold a referendum, some commentators believe. Others criticise that the vote will be democratic only on the surface.

La Repubblica - Italy

Creditors drove Tsipras to hold referendum

Greece's creditors have left Alexis Tsipras with no other option but to let the people decide, US economist Paul Krugman writes in the centre-left daily La Repubblica: "Until now Syriza has been in an awkward place politically, with voters both furious at ever-greater demands for austerity and unwilling to leave the euro. It has always been hard to see how these desires could be reconciled; it's even harder now. The referendum will, in effect, ask voters to choose their priority, and give Tsipras a mandate to do what he must if the troika pushes it all the way. If you ask me, it has been an act of monstrous folly on the part of the creditor governments and institutions to push it to this point. But they have, and I can't at all blame Tsipras for turning to the voters, instead of turning on them." (29/06/2015)

Naftemporiki - Greece

Unclear referendum just pseudo democracy

Alexis Tsipras has described the decision of the parliament in Athens to hold a referendum next Sunday on the troika's austerity demands as an important step for his country's democracy. The conservative business paper Naftemporiki has its doubts: "The prime minister has chosen the path of a referendum as the supreme democratic process that is to bring a solution for the country in this critical moment. But will it really fulfil this purpose? … The vote on an agreement that has not yet been concluded and which entails dozens of tax measures and other complicated issues, the details of which we don't know and can't understand can't be formulated in one clear question. … To enable the citizens to assume responsibility, the government - and above all the rest of the political world - should explain responsibly and honestly what the consequences of a Yes or No vote will be." (29/06/2015)

Financial Times - United Kingdom

Finance ministers made tactical error

The finance ministers of the Eurozone have played right into the hands of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras by insisting that the bailout programme expire this Tuesday, columnist Wolfgang Münchau writes in the liberal Financial Times newspaper: "By far the biggest tactical error committed over the weekend, however, was the rejection by eurozone finance ministers of a five-day extension of the Greek bailout programme to beyond the referendum. With that decision, they foreclosed the only way to keep the show on the road. They have unwittingly strengthened the political argument of the Greek prime minister. He will now be able to say: first the creditors wanted to destroy the Greek economy with their austerity programme. And now they are hoping to destroy Greek democracy." (28/06/2015)

Kurier - Austria

EU squeezing Greece to the bitter end

Greece's looming state bankruptcy is an admission of failure on the part of Europe, the liberal daily Kurier writes: "The country's economic output has sunk by one third. Those who still have work earn around 50 percent less. Three million Greeks have no social insurance. A quarter of the population and over half of its youth are unemployed, many since the start of the crisis. ... The social misery has long since peaked. Now the Greeks are facing total bankruptcy. No one believes this will solve a thing. Rather it is much more likely that the Greeks' plight will only worsen. And all that because we insist on squeezing the last penny out of a country that's already lying motionless, even though it makes no sense from either a humanitarian or an economic point of view . When the EU politicians really want to, they can find solutions. They've proven that often enough since 2009. Ultimately our message - bailing out banks with hundreds of billions? yes; rescuing states? no - endangers the EU project and the euro far more than corrupt Greeks ever could." (29/06/2015)

Die Welt - Germany

Grexit will restore Athens' sovereignty

After the announcement of a referendum in Greece, the conservative daily Die Welt sees a Grexit as likely and helpful: "For the first time since the start of the debt crisis there is a real and - judging by the financial markets - manageable possibility of a Grexit. This step could prove liberating for both sides for many reasons. … With their own currency [the Greeks] have better long-term economic prospects and will regain at least some of the sovereignty they so sorely miss. In other euro states there may be opposition to the consolidation policy, but the view prevails that only a competitive Europe has a future. It is not Merkel's euro course that has failed, but the repeated attempts to make the indispensable prerequisites for membership of the monetary union attractive to Greece." (29/06/2015)

POLITICS

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Sydsvenskan - Sweden

Terrorism a threat to Tunisia's fragile democracy

For Tunisia, where the Arab Spring began, the terrorist flare-up is a disaster, the liberal daily Sydsvenskan laments after Friday's attack in Sousse: "Terrorism is the biggest threat to Tunisia's fragile democracy. … At least 3,000 Tunisians have travelled to Syria, Libya and Iraq to join jihadist groups, including the Islamic State (IS). The extremists want to destabilise the country and tourism is the most logical target because it is so important for its economy. After the attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis in March more than 12,000 Tunisians demonstrated against extremism and President Beij Caid Essebsi declared that the country was at war against terrorism. This latest attack is a tragedy for the victims and their relatives, and also for all Tunisians who want to build an open, democratic society." (27/06/2015)

Cumhuriyet - Turkey

Anti-Kurd coalition will bring war to Turkey

According to media reports Ankara is planning a military operation in the Turkish-Syrian border region. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had previously announced that he would do everything possible to prevent the emergence of a Kurdish state in northern Syria. If the AKP forms a coalition with the extremist-right MHP it will be a declaration of war against all Kurds, the Kemalist daily Cumhuriyet warns: "In northern Syria the Kurdish cantons are uniting. This means that a secure zone against the Islamic State and similar terrorist organisations is emerging on our border with Syria. But in the eyes of the AKP and the MHP this is a threat to Turkey's national security. Why? There is no plausible answer to that question. … An AKP-MHP coalition would necessarily be a war government. Within Turkey it would wage war against the [Kurdish Workers' Party] PKK and beyond the country's borders against Syria. Such a coalition would drag all Turkey into the Middle East swamp." (29/06/2015)

Polityka Online - Poland

Political rocker spews drivel about investors

In Poland the rock musician turned politician Paweł Kukiz announced at his movement's founding event on Saturday that he wanted to chase from office the "traitors" who had sold the country to foreign investors. The left-liberal news portal Polityka Online finds such rhetoric unbearable: "Complete drivel which he should retract before it's too late. ... This xenophobia towards foreign business and investors is based on his own complexes and an aversion to foreigners. Without foreign investors, Poland would be far poorer than it is now. They're the ones who provide us with capital, create jobs and increase exports. Our local companies can't do all that alone. ... Mr Kukiz has clearly not understood that nowadays capital works around the globe, and in so doing gives the people work." (29/06/2015)

REFLECTIONS

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El País - Spain

For Moisés Naím the Islamist terror is not a clash of civilisations

Those who felt reminded of Samuel Huntington's thesis of a clash of Western and Muslim civilisations after the terrorist attacks in Tunisia and France on Friday are forgetting the facts, Moisés Naím, editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy magazine, comments in the centre-left daily El País: "The images on the news, the official rhetoric and strident debates on the radio and Internet lead one to believe that the most bloody conflict of the 21st century is between radical Muslims and infidels. But this is not the case. The statistics show that this is a false interpretation and that the Islamist terrorists have killed more followers of their own religion than anyone else. The fight between the Shiites and the Sunnis continues to claim victims, most of them Muslims. On the other hand it is also untrue that most of the attacks in the US are carried out by radical Muslims. It is US racists - many of them members of the White Supremacy movement - who are responsible for most of the victims of terrorist attacks in the US." (28/06/2015)

ECONOMY

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Deutschlandfunk - Germany

ECB losing all credibility

By extending the emergency loans for Greece even though the Eurogroup's bailout programme expires on Tuesday, the ECB has said goodbye to its role as protector of monetary stability, the public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk writes: "It has shown what has become its true face: that of a political institution. ... After the euro finance ministers said no to the multi-billion euro bailout programme, these loans lack any legitimacy. Because a state bankruptcy and the collapse of the Greek banks must now be expected. In sweeping aside such reservations, the ECB not only risks complaints of unconstitutionality for overstepping its mandate, it also casts doubts on its own credibility. ... Ultimately the Greek government could see the ECB's open monetary floodgates as a good reason to go on gambling. In that case the ECB will have done a disservice both to any prospect of rescuing Greece and to the stabilisation of the euro system." (28/06/2015)

SOCIETY

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La Croix - France

Valls oversimplifying in terrorist debate

In the context of the most recent terror attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls spoke on Sunday in a radio interview of a war of civilisations. An inopportune choice of words, the Catholic daily La Croix believes: "By adopting a belligerent stance and evoking an 'enemy' behind a symbolic border, Manuel Valls pretends to forget that the solution cannot be limited to enhanced security. The question all politicians must now ask themselves is why so many French citizens are attracted to such a mentality, with no other prospect in life than this terrifying rush towards violence and terror. The 'combat' must also be waged on this terrain: that of the convictions and projects our country can offer to a section of its youth. And it must take place in a society comprising a multitude of cultures and religions." (28/06/2015)

Õhtuleht - Estonia

Even 156 refugees too many for Estonians

The EU states agreed last Thursday to take in refugees on a voluntary basis rather than introducing a quota system. Estonia could take in up to 156 refugees, according to its interior minister, but the tabloid Õhtuleht is sceptical: "156 may be less than the 1000 stipulated by the quota system. … Nonetheless this raises many questions and rational and irrational fears owing to ignorance still exist. Do we know who is coming to us and do we have a plan for what to do with them? How will those to be taken in be chosen, and how much say will Estonia have about which refugees come to live here? How will the state convince the local authorities and how can they fulfil the high demands - accommodation, kindergartens, schools and jobs? … The government must explain to Estonians why our unemployed don't have health insurance while the refugees do." (29/06/2015)

Magyar Narancs - Hungary

Orbán's dangerous rhetoric against immigrants

In view of the aggressive rhetoric of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in the debate on refugees, it's already clear who will be to blame if violent acts are committed against foreigners in Hungary, the liberal weekly paper Magyar Narancs writes: "We know all too well that Orbán can no longer backtrack on the refugee issue without losing face. As a minimal concession, however, he should tell the people of Hungary that asylum seekers are not freeloaders or criminals but people with a right to be cared for in Hungary and to receive fair treatment as refugees. ... If, on the contrary, the refugees are attacked by the Hungarian state or population, Viktor Orbán must be held personally responsible. Because he is the one who has fanned resentment against immigrants." (28/06/2015)

Delfi - Lithuania

Gay marriage still unthinkable in Lithuania

The US's Supreme Court has allowed same-sex marriage in all the country's 50 states. Lithuania unfortunately is lagging far behind such progressiveness, the web portal Delfi comments: "Since its birth the US has been a trailblazer for the suppressed peoples of the world. Now it has once again proven its status as trailblazer in the area of human rights. Lithuania's politicians, by contrast, are demonstrating their inability to free themselves of a post-Soviet discourse full of hatred and fear myths. 'These Americans were always suspicious. Their trends are destroying our traditional way of life. And not only their trends; Gayropa is just as bad.' … The politicians not only refuse to resolve the question of same-sex partnerships and marriage but also avoid a broad debate about the subject because heaven forbid they should annoy the homophobic section of their voter base." (29/06/2015)

MEDIA

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Latvijas Avīze - Latvia

Latvia's Media Council too pro-Russian

Two government and two opposition parties are demanding the dissolution of Latvia's National Electronic Mass Media Council. They accuse the body of being far too lenient regarding Russian propaganda. The national conservative daily Latvijas Avize also calls for a more stringent supervisory body, arguing that the Latvian state is too pro-Russian: "A few attempts to curb Russian propaganda were made last year when the Media Council banned the broadcasting of several Russian TV channels. Now it's far more convenient to dream of a new Russian-language TV channel in which one could invest millions, and wait to see how the new product goes down with the Russians. They aren't thinking of the political or ideological aspects this time: why does the state still cling to the idea of introducing Russian as a second official language even though the Latvians rejected this in a referendum? ... This could contribute to further Russification of the country. Therefore the desire for a more stringent media supervisory body is justified." (29/06/2015)

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