Press review | 01/09/2014



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Top EU posts for Tusk and Mogherini

The decision in favour of Tusk and Mogherini was based on a broad consensus. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


The EU heads of state and government agreed on Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk as new European Council president on Saturday. Italy's Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini will be the new foreign affairs chief. Tusk has what it takes to become a great EU president, some commentators write. Others believe Mogherini's election shows that a strong EU foreign policy is unwanted.

De Standaard - Belgium

EU doesn't want strong foreign policy

Mogherini's appointment as EU foreign policy chief draws harsh criticism from the liberal daily De Standaard: "It is acceptable that the Pole Donald Tusk has been named as President Herman Van Rompuy's successor. The man is a great European, the first top-level representative of the eastern member states and one of Angela Merkel's confidante's. His political experience and expertise compensate for the fact that in the midst of the Ukraine crisis having him as president of the European Council won't make relations with Russia any easier. But the appointment of Federica Mogherini is a disappointment. Many factors have contributed to her rise to leader of European diplomacy, but experience and a clear profile weren't among them. After the disappointing mandate of her predecessor Catherine Ashton this proves that Europe's capitals don't want a Union with its own foreign policy." (01/09/2014)

Mladá fronta Dnes - Czech Republic

Perhaps the EU's first great president

Donald Tusk's election is good news for Europe and even better news for Central Eastern Europe, the liberal daily Mladá fronta Dnes believes: "Tusk fully deserves the role of European Council president. Poland was one of the poorest countries in Europe. Not only did he turn it into a richer, more modern and European state, but also into one that can find allies in the EU and hold the Visegrád Group together. Under Tusk, Poland not only became an ally of Germany, but also has excellent relations with the US. And it gave Putin's Russia the chance for a new start in their relations. Poland always held firmly to the maxim that it can never be free as long as Ukraine is not free. The Union needs a man like Tusk, particularly in these difficult times. ... He has the chance to go down in history as the first great president of Europe." (01/09/2014)

El Periódico de Catalunya - Spain

Better than Van Rompuy and Ashton

Tusk und Mogherini are at any rate better than their predecessors Herman Van Rompuy and Catherine Ashton, the left-liberal daily El Periódico de Catalunya writes: "The appointments of Tusk and Mogherini stand for two different developments. Poland's prime minister represents the new clout of the Eastern bloc, a region whose integration into the EU began only ten years ago. The other novelty is a leading role for Italy after the country - one of the founding states of the EU - has lost so much in the Union. ... Time will tell whether Tusk and Mogherini are up to the challenge in this difficult period for Europe, which is dealing with several crises at the same time. But it's definitely good news that the inane Herman van Rompuy and the invisible Catherine Ashton are leaving the stage." (01/09/2014)

Gość Niedzielny - Poland

Tusk won't help Poland at all

Poland won't benefit at all from Donald Tusk's election as European Council president, the national-religious portal Gość Niedzielny writes, putting a damper on Polish expectations: "Of course you don't stop thinking in national categories from one day to the next. Nevertheless in the past many politicians and bureaucrats in Brussels have with time started to think more 'European' than 'Polish' 'Italian' or 'Dutch'. There are plenty of examples: the crisis-ridden Portugal didn't profit at all from the fact that Jose Manuel Barroso was EU Commission president for over ten years. And that is a post that carries considerable clout. By the looks of things the current European enthusiast Tusk will become just such a Eurocrat." (01/09/2014)

Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

Just more of the same

The heads of state and government have once again agreed on weak candidates, the liberal business daily Il Sole 24 Ore criticises: "The governments - and we're talking about the EU as well as the Eurozone - prefer to agree things among themselves. The Commission and the Council are only meant to endorse these decisions. So far only the European Parliament has tried to oppose this - more or less successfully. If something unforeseen doesn't happen soon the danger persists that although the people at the helm of the EU institutions change, the course of European policy will stay the same: disappointing and clumsy, if not downright disastrous." (31/08/2014)


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Die Presse - Austria

EU must not give in to Putin

In reaction to reports of armed Russian units in Ukraine the EU plans to decide on further economic sanctions against Russia within the next week. Brussels must not be intimidated by Putin's aggression, the liberal-conservative daily Die Presse warns: "His structural advantage is his ruthlessness. The West rejected the military option from the start for fear of an uncontrollable escalation - but Putin didn't. And therefore he is getting his own way like a rowdy everyone avoids because they're afraid of him. If the EU's economic sanctions ever have any political impact, then only in the long term. In the short term they are likely even strengthening Putin's rule. ... Furthermore there's no lack of citizens who would be happy to grant Russia tax-free spheres of influence, as if Europe had never been divided by an invisible Iron Curtain. ... If this appeasement logic had been pursued in 1989 the citizens from Riga to Budapest would all still be under Moscow's yoke." (01/09/2014)

Berlingske - Denmark

West must stop expansion of "New Russia"

Russian President Vladimir Putin referred to the separatist areas in eastern Ukraine as "New Russia" in a speech on Thursday. The West must not be intimidated by Putin's rhetoric, the conservative daily Berlingske urges: "So far Putin still hasn't decided how far he'll go. This depends on the West's reaction to his military penetration because Putin has the full support of his own people. And if Putin never stops repeating that Russia is not militarily present in eastern Ukraine, it's only to prevent the West from imposing effective sanctions like blocking Russia in the Swift [international payment] system. ... In the West we must stop kidding ourselves. How much of Ukraine Russia ultimately claims for itself depends to a large extent on us." (30/08/2014)

Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

AfD luring Saxony's right-wing conservatives

Sunday's the right-wing conservative Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has won parliamentary seats for the first time in state parliament elections in the German state of Saxony. Those who follow the AfD are travelling back in time to the old Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of 30 years ago, the left-liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung comments: "They encounter national conservatives and Christian fundamentalists, Evangelicals and stringent Catholics, and also people for whom the judiciary is too lax and who want to hear more German music on the radio. Back in the times of Helmut Kohl the Union's right-wing conservatives used to talk like this. ... In Merkel's CDU the right-wing conservatives barely have any say. But among the voters the situation is different. Their unease with modern society is seeking a safe haven. ... Saxony, once the cradle of social democracy, is today the most conservative and right-wing oriented German state. This is why the AfD has found a home here, and this is why the [far-right] NPD party still has its biggest voter base there." (01/09/2014)

Radikal - Turkey

Military has no say on Kurdish issue

After its change of head of state and government Turkey still wants to negotiate a peace agreement with Kurdistan's banned Workers' Party (PKK). On Saturday the Turkish Chief of Staff Necdet Özal threatened that the military would take action if the Kurdish peace process compromises Turkey's unity. The military is once again overstepping its powers, the liberal online newspaper Radikal warns: "Whenever the politicians seek a solution to the Kurdish issue this stirs up nationalism and militarism. The military's interference has always blocked a solution. In recent years the military's interventionism has abated, and the politicians have sought a peaceful, arms-free solution. ... The legal demands of the Kurds are being more clearly formulated than in the past, and international human rights standards have been put on the agenda. ... Society plays the decisive role; its representatives are the parliament and their political will." (01/09/2014)

e-vestnik - Bulgaria

Borisov must not become PM again

Bulgarians go to the voting booths on October 5 to elect a new parliament. Opinion polls put the party of former prime minister Boyko Borisov in the lead. If Gerb wins it must not repeat past mistakes by appointing Borisov prime minister, the online portal E-vestnik writes, instead proposing Kristalina Georgieva, Bulgaria's outgoing EU Commissioner responsible for international cooperation, for the job: "She would be the ideal prime minister for Bulgaria. The best compromise that the political forces in the country could reach in view of the difficult domestic and foreign policy situation. Borisov tries to look important but he doesn't enjoy the trust of the West, even if it patted him on the back and supported him when he had the say. With Kristalina Georgieva things would be different. The US and the EU trust her. ... Borisov can't boss her around as he pleases, and his potential coalition partners would support her candidacy." (30/08/2014)


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Libération - France

Jean Viard on the French left overcoming the class struggle

Members of France's Socialist Party have accused the party of veering to the right with last week's cabinet shuffle. Sociologist Jean Viard welcomes the more business-friendly approach of the French left in the left-liberal daily Libération: "It came late, but when it happened it happened fast: France has finally entered the 21st century. The confrontation between capital and labour that has structured our societies since the industrial revolution, and which resulted both in significant development and an immense improvement in our living standards, has undergone a major change. A love for enterprise may also come from the left, and the future of the business sector will be the future of France. We are leaving behind the political-economic culture of the industrial revolution, which resulted in the First World War and the class struggle of the 20th century. It is time to learn the terrible lesson of the 20th century: our liberty is better protected when politicians and businesses don't try to dominate each other, but to cooperate." (01/09/2014)


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Večernji List - Croatia

Croatia's conservatives must come to power

Croatia's GDP has decreased for the second quarter in a row, dropping by 0.8 percent in the second quarter of 2014. The social-liberal governing coalition must be voted out in the elections in 2015 and the national-conservative HDZ party must turn its attention to the economy, the conservative daily Večernji List demands: "Despite all its [corruption] scandals, the HDZ is the strongest party in the country and there is no longer any doubt that it will win the next elections. The only question is whether the HDZ and its partners will attain just a simple parliamentary majority or whether they can get a two-thirds majority like [Prime Minister] Orbán in Hungary. ... Yes, it's important to finally settle scores with Tito and communism. But all that won't put the food on the table or secure the future of coming generations if we don't save the economy. Either the HDZ succeeds in doing this or we'll part ways with it forever." (01/09/2014)


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The Guardian - United Kingdom

More and more Scots dream of independence

The public debate in the run-up to Scotland's independence referendum in two and a half weeks is unleashing a growing wave of enthusiasm for independence, columnist Paul Mason comments in the left-liberal daily The Guardian: "What we can say, already, is that the no campaign - for all its resilience in the opinion polls - failed in its plan to turn the referendum into an issue of macro-economic risk. ... What we know already is that a significant number of Scottish people have a dream: where statehood, social justice and cultural self-confidence fit together into a clear and popular project. The rest of Britain may be stunned, but should not be surprised if the enthusiasm for this dream propels enough people into the voting booths to give the yes camp a narrow victory." (31/08/2014)

The Sunday Times Ireland - Ireland

Irish police shouldn't fly gay flag

Employees of the main police station in the western Irish city of Limerick hoisted a rainbow flag during a gay parade on Saturday. Such acts of solidarity with individual sections of the population do not fall within the remit of government authorities, the conservative Sunday Times criticises: "Police officers should not use their stations to proclaim anything other than their faithfulness to the state and to the rule of law. One flag alone should fly over the garda stations of this republic, and it is not the flag of gay rights, or transgender rights, or single-father rights, or respect for diversity. The army defends the republic, while projecting its interests abroad: and An Garda Siochana enforces the rule of law and protects the wellbeing and property of ALL its citizens." (31/08/2014)

Neatkarīgā - Latvia

Teachers are Latvia's heroes

After three months of summer holidays the pupils in Latvia return to school this Monday. The national-conservative daily Neatkarīgā praises the Latvian teachers' high level of commitment: "Almost all teachers are asking themselves whether they chose the right profession and whether it wouldn't be better to throw in the towel and leave the country. Being a teacher in Latvia isn't easy - it's a mission. ... Teachers work nights as watchmen and then go to school to teach the next day - they only earn 420 euros a month. And they won't get any more in the foreseeable future either because right now Latvia has bigger problems with the Russian food product embargo and swine flu. ... On September 1 the teachers will greet their pupils with smiling faces. They are our heroes because they can get by with a pittance. And they'll go on working that hard so the state has a future." (29/08/2014)

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