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Argentina insolvent

Argentina's President Cristina Kirchner compared the hedge funds with "missiles in a war". (© picture-alliance/dpa)


Talks aimed at reaching an agreement between Argentina and US bond holders on the payment of 1.5 billion dollars in debts failed on Thursday. Several rating agencies promptly declared that the country was in 'selective default'. Greedy hedge funds have driven Argentina into bankruptcy, some commentators write. Others stress that the funds are acting in accordance with the law.

Avvenire - Italy

Hedge funds are vultures without morals

The US hedge funds are vultures interested only in making an immoral profit out of Argentina's default, the Catholic daily Avvenire fumes: "The case of Argentina is a striking example of how the interests of a few speculators can destroy the balance painstakingly achieved by the state and the majority of its creditor. ... National insolvency mechanisms are based on the healthy principle of giving the weaker party (the debtor) the chance for a fresh start by protecting him from the demands of the creditors. ... The incredible case in Argentina seems to stipulate that this sensible ethical principle no longer applies, paradoxically precisely when the debtor is an entire country while on the other side is a very specific group of creditors: the vulture funds that specialise in taking the place of the creditors in the event of a state going bankrupt, with the sole intention of profiting from disaster." (01/08/2014)

Die Presse - Austria

Creditors just adhering to the law

There can be no talk of unjust treatment of Argentina by the US judiciary or unlawful behaviour on the part of US hedge funds, the conservative daily Die Presse writes: "'Vulture funds' that buy up bonds on the cheap on secondary markets and then do all they can to attain the full nominal value with the help of international courts in order to rake in profits in the billions are not exactly wildly popular. ... Nevertheless they aren't doing anything illegal. They want their (in their case easy) money and refer to contracts that the government in Buenos Aires signed and therefore accepted. And it should also come as no big surprise that a US judge rules according to US laws when the city of New York is named as the place of jurisdiction in contracts signed by the government in Buenos Aires." (01/08/2014)

The Press Project - Greece

Argentina sets good example for Greece

Argentina's decision not to comply with the hedge funds' demands serves as an example to Greece and other highly indebted countries in the Eurozone, the web portal ThePressProject writes in praise: "It comes as no surprise that Argentina has chosen bankruptcy. ... The 2001 insolvency was very successful. It freed the country from the stranglehold of the International Monetary Fund and the austerity measures it had imposed. Argentina saw striking economic growth in the ten years after the bankruptcy - second only to China - and significantly reduced poverty. ... This new insolvency not only protects Argentina's vital interests, it is also a courageous act that could lead other countries to go against the wishes of their creditors. And it's an important lesson for the highly indebted countries of the Eurozone - and especially for Greece. Argentina must now receive broad support in its struggle." (01/08/2014)

Radikal - Turkey

Global repercussions of a bankruptcy

The failed arbitration in the debt conflict between Argentina and US hedge funds will be a lesson to other countries that issue national bonds to restructure their debts, the liberal daily Radikal predicts: "When in the future a country can't pay its bonds, undertakes to reschedule its debt and says 'Those who want to can accept my conditions and change the bonds, and those who don't can go ahead and sue us', it knows what legal consequences await it. ... This situation has created a legal precedent: countries issuing debt instruments can now expect considerably harsher terms. No doubt many of them will no longer be so eager to accept a debt restructuring." (01/08/2014)


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Der Standard - Austria

Chaos in Ukrainian politics

The Ukrainian parliament voted on Thursday by a large majority to reject Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk's resignation. This is typical of Ukrainian politics under the current president, the left-liberal daily Der Standard finds: "In Ukraine, President Petro Poroshenko has allotted the role of loser to Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. The latter must carry on as prime minister even though he's not happy with being the scapegoat for the upcoming difficult reforms. The wrangling over Yatsenyuk's resignation also reflects the current state of Ukrainian politics. ... Little tactical intrigues are often more important than strategic goals. One of the intrigues is the early elections. Poroshenko is interested in them because his party isn't represented in the parliament. Admittedly he doesn't want to tarnish the image of his confidante Volodymyr Groysman - who was acting prime minister in Kiev for a couple of hours last week - before the elections. But precisely this scenario is looming over the head of government in the current economic situation, regardless of his competence." (01/08/2014)

Irish Examiner - Ireland

Ireland must give Palestinians a voice

The UN Human Rights Council last week resolved to launch an enquiry into Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip. Ireland was wrong to withhold its vote, the liberal daily Irish Examiner believes: "On guard against anti-Semitism, the world is still not ready to see Jews as perpetrators of any wrong. But religion is irrelevant to the atrocity. . True Judaism preaches humanity, as Christians can see clearly in the words of one Jew, Jesus Christ … There must never be another Irish abstention on a crucial issue affecting the Palestinians, such as the craven and immoral abstention, last week, on the UN Human Rights Commission's proposal for an international enquiry into the situation in Gaza. We are a very small voice on the international stage, but we must use it to help bring the Palestinians home." (01/08/2014)

Gândul - Romania

Ponta exploiting ethnic origins in campaign

In the election campaign for the presidential elections in November Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta is making a point of being an orthodox Romanian - his opponent Klaus Johannis is of German descent and a Protestant. The online newspaper Gândul criticises this focus on nationality and religion: "Ponta is making a show of being Romanian and orthodox. He's trying to divert attention from his own Italian-Albanian origins and his Catholic or at least mixed roots. Normally the nationality of a candidate shouldn't be the focus (who can say what a 'real Romanian' looks like, given that they've all been born in the melting pot of the nations). The emphasis should be on their morals and achievements. But Ponta's election campaign team is eager to avoid these subjects and is shifting the debate to a dirty terrain where the spotlight is on the motto 'a true Romanian as president'." (01/08/2014)


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Sme - Slovakia

Tomáš Gális on Israel criticism and anti-Semitism

Four years of civil war in Syria have claimed 170,000 lives and in a strip of land that stretches from Libya to Iraq massacres are being carried out on a daily basis yet the world seems only interested in the dead Palestinians, commentator Tomáš Gális reflects in the liberal daily Sme in view of the mounting international criticism of Israel: "Why is this? Is it because of the large number of journalists in the area? Or because higher standards apply for Israel? Are people only interested in dead Muslims when they are victims of Israel? Naturally the protests in the media and on the streets must be taken seriously. We need an answer to the question of when a military offensive serves the purpose of defence and when it becomes just senseless killing. ... But we also need an answer to the question of where the criticism of Israel's policy ends and straightforward anti-Semitism begins. When calls like 'Gas the Jews!' can be heard in big cities and petrol bombs are thrown at synagogues, sympathy with the Palestinians can only be an excuse. A growing number of Jews know this and are leaving Europe for Israel. What does it say about Europe when they prefer to go and live in a state whose right to exist is constantly being contested?" (01/08/2014)


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Jornal de Negócios - Portugal

Record BES loss sends tremors through Portugal

Portugal's troubled BES bank announced a record loss of 3.57 billion euros for the first six months of the year on Wednesday evening. This amounts to over two percent of the GDP and is the highest loss a company has ever registered in the country. This goes beyond even the worst fears, the liberal business daily Jornal de Negócios comments, shocked by the news: "Can this record loss perhaps even grow if more skeletons come out of the cupboards? ... Is it even possible to have such high losses without mismanagement or other offences being committed by the decision makers? It's highly unlikely. And now the judiciary comes into play. ... A judiciary that loves grandstanding and never tires of saying that its decisions are not the result of political or economic pressure. So what will this judiciary do? Or will no one be found to take the blame yet again." (01/08/2014)


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Bild - Germany

Turkish Germans closer to Berlin than to Ankara

For the first time, until Sunday 1.4 million Turks living in Germany will be able to vote from abroad in a Turkish election. The fact that only 92,000 of them have made an appointment to vote speaks for the high level of integration in German society, Turkish guest commentator Ertuğrul Özkök writes in the tabloid Bild: "Is support for Erdoğan among Turks living abroad really as strong as people believe? Roughly one million Turks have German citizenship. 700,000 of them are eligible to vote in Germany. While there may not be any official figures on how many of them go to the polls, Turkish associations in Germany assume that roughly 70 percent voted in the last German parliamentary elections. So one could conclude that Turks in Germany are more interested in elections in Germany than in the Turkish presidential elections. Leading one to also conclude: integration isn't really in such a bad state after all." (01/08/2014)

Newsweek Polska - Poland

Poland a fundamentalist state

In Poland a proposal by the constitutional law expert Wiktor Osiatyński to repeal the state-church agreement Poland signed with the Vatican in 1993 has triggered a debate. A few days ago Osiatyński criticised the privileges the agreement gives the Church in an interview with Newsweek Polska and now the magazine backs him: "The Church threatens members of parliament with excommunication if they vote in favour of a law regulating artificial insemination. ... And it attacks gender studies, which questions the patriarchal structures that are a core component of the Church. And none of this constitutes privileges? Osiatyński is right to say we are just one step away from being a religious state. Poland has everything a fundamentalist state has - the only difference is that we are still allowed to talk about it." (01/08/2014)

NRC Handelsblad - Netherlands

Legal equality also for Fortuyn's killer

The murderer of right-wing populist Pim Fortuyn, who was released early from prison, is to be able to move freely without an electronic ankle monitor from now on under a ruling by a court in The Hague on Wednesday. For him too, equality before the law applies, the liberal daily NRC Handelsblad comments with satisfaction: "Decisive for the ruling is the observation that the release of Van der G. didn't provoke social unrest. ... It's clear that Van der G. shouldn't be treated any differently than other convicted criminals who have served two-thirds of their sentence. Hopefully there won't be any unrest now and above all the politicians won't try to incite it. Far too often politicians have tried to politicise the trials against Van der G. That is unwarranted. Ministers and MPs shouldn't try to sit in the judges' chair." (01/08/2014)

La Gruyère - Switzerland

Safety before freedom even on Mont Blanc

The mayor of the French town of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains has brought charges against a US citizen who wanted to climb Mont Blanc with his two children aged nine and eleven. The children were momentarily caught in an avalanche, after which the father broke off the attempt to set a record for youngest ascent. The regional daily La Gruyère calls for stricter rules on the highest peak in the Alps: "Have we reached a limit with Mont Blanc, as we have with Everest? A limit that must make people realise that for all the myths that surround it, the mountain is not an amusement park? If we have, the path has been cleared for regulation and other sanctions. The peak freaks won't fail to protest, convinced as they are that mountains must remain a freedom zone. ... Like other natural reserves, Mont Blanc has been urbanised. But whereas elsewhere everyone respects the rules, there's no sign of that yet on Mont Blanc. No, nothing must be allowed to detract from the sense of freedom: not even the non-stop flights of helicopters coming to rescue climbers in distress." (01/08/2014)


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Open Democracy - United Kingdom

British media must finally criticise Israel

The media's assessment of the Middle East conflict is fundamentally wrong, media activist Justin Schlosberg writes in the blog Open Democracy, calling on journalists to break with taboos about criticising Israel: "We as viewers are invited to question Israel's use of excessive force, even accuse them of war crimes. But the idea that Israel 'responds' to Palestinian attacks rather than the other way round is deeply entrenched within the liberal media's dictum, in spite of Israel's unrelenting policy of settlement expansion in the West Bank ... and in spite of the fact that the majority of cease-fires between Israel and Hamas since 2000 have been broken by Israel. … If journalists are to cut through the ideological quagmire, they need to start asking the more fundamental questions - not in the interests of placating complainants, but in the interests of real and honest reporting." (31/07/2014)

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