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Athens' request for payment deferral rejected

Lagarde does not want to defer Athens' next payment of 779 million euros, due on May 12. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

Athens has asked the IMF for a deferral of further loan repayments, according to media reports. IMF head Christine Lagarde rejected the request as "unsatisfactory" on Thursday, at the start of the spring meeting with the World Bank in Washington. If the debt conflict leads to a Grexit it will mean the end of the EU, some commentators warn. Others see a radical restructuring of the Eurozone as Europe's last chance.

Corriere della Sera - Italy

Grexit would trigger EU's downfall

Europe's stock markets were sent reeling on Thursday after the IMF's refusal to postpone Greece's bailout repayments. Investors are readying themselves for a Grexit, the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera writes, warning of the consequences: "A Grexit would escalate the tensions within the Eurozone. It would endanger the entire integration process. It would strengthen all those who exploit the scepticism vis-à-vis Europe's bureaucratic institutions to campaign against the euro and even demand the dissolution of the EU: from Podemos in Spain, Syriza and the Alternative for Germany party to the Lega Nord in Italy and Ukip in the UK. … In the eyes of many Eurosceptics the spectre of a Grexit is not only useful for fighting EU bureaucracy but also for denying the entire sense of its political project." (17/04/2015)

Club Z - Bulgaria

Europe pinning hopes on Tsipras's resignation

If Athens doesn't get any new loans Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will be forced to cut pensions and salaries, journalist Vesselin Yelev writes on the liberal-conservative news portal Club Z and suspects the other EU members are very much aware of this: "If the Greeks have to decide between pension and pay cuts and keeping their government it's clear that they'll opt for a new government that won't cut their pensions and salaries. But that can only be a government that has earned the trust of the international creditors. Tsipras has lost that trust. I believe Europe's strategy is not to throw Greece out of the Eurozone but to get the Greeks to throw Tsipras out of government. And if they don't, the Eurozone will still be able to get along fine without Greece." (16/04/2015)

Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

Dismantle monetary union now

It's highly unlikely that a Grexit could solve the Eurozone's problems, the left-liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung writes, proposing an even more radical solution: "In the long term a kind of European economic government with an enormous budget and far higher transfer effects than Germany has experienced since reunification could help correct the imbalances [within the Eurozone]. But this path is blocked politically. Much more power for Brussels? The citizens of Europe won't go along with that. … The monetary union is dividing the Europeans. Insults are flying back and forth, the political climate has cooled. And Germany, as the commanding euro disciplinarian, is provoking more annoyance than anyone else even though it's acting with the best intentions. Consequently we should start looking at an option that has so far been ignored for understandable reasons: the dissolution of the monetary union, or at least its reduction to a group of homogeneous states. For Europe's sake." (17/04/2015)

POLITICS

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Agos - Turkey

Armenian genocide still continues

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has already described the European Parliament's resolution on the Armenian genocide as "irrelevant". His words show that the mentality in Turkey hasn't changed in the slightest, columnist Yetvart Danzikyan complains in Agos, the weekly of the Armenian minority: "A large part of the population sees the Armenians as enemies, or at best as people who should talk only at certain times and should remain silent on certain issues. … Many of the grandchildren of the victims of 1915 still can't talk about this topic. I'm not talking about political figures or people who have been talking about it for years. I'm talking about normal Armenians who carry the burden of the past in their bones and who can't heal from the trauma because they can't talk about it. … From this perspective it's no exaggeration to say that the genocide still continues." (17/04/2015)

Berlingske - Denmark

Denmark not obliged to recognise Armenian genocide

Denmark's social-liberal foreign minister, Martin Lidegaard, has come under fire after describing the massacre of the Armenians in 1915 as a "tragic event" rather than genocide. The liberal daily Berlingske defends the minister: "In Denmark as in the West there is a consensus that it was genocide. The minister justified his remark saying that he didn't want to cause unnecessary offence to the Turks. … Unlike Armenia, Turkey is a solid export market. … You can see this as hypocrisy or as common sense. The main task of Danish foreign policy was never to tell other countries unpleasant truths. … That's not to say we should give up our values. … Other countries must not shake our country's basic values. On the other hand it also means that we shouldn't use every opportunity to interfere with other people's values and past." (17/04/2015)

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

Europe playing hot potato with refugees

This week alone it is estimated that over 400 refugees drowned in the Mediterranean. The search for a European response to the refugee crisis is like a game of hot potato, the liberal-conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung complains: "The refugee policy has failed due to the lack of clarity over the responsibility of the EU and the member states. Yes, we do have a common asylum system, but Brussels has insufficient means at its disposal to implement common standards in the EU states. The member states are responsible for border protection and fishing refugees out of the water. The under-financed border protection agency Frontex, for its part, can only be deployed as a stop-gap measure. In addition Frontex is dependent on the member states, which must provide it with ships, helicopters and personnel. The upshot of these split responsibilities is an undignified game of hot potato, in which the EU Commission hides behind the member states and the national governments shirk their responsibility." (17/04/2015)

Financial Times - United Kingdom

Ukip still dreaming of British Empire

Two and a half weeks before Britain's general election the UK Independence Party (Ukip) is polling at around 15 percent. But above all its Eurosceptic stance prevents Ukip from being a real political alternative, the conservative daily Financial Times comments: "It is a fledgling movement without any serious figures beyond Mr Farage. Its commitment to pull Britain out of the EU and the single market would put prosperity at risk and undermine the UK's place in the world. Ukip's policy on Europe is not based on a cool analysis of the pros and cons of membership such as the importance of investment and jobs. It is an emotional reaction based more on a romanticised version of the past when Britannia ruled the waves." (16/04/2015)

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

Bad timing for Athens' weapons deal

Greece's defence minister Panos Kammenos explored the possibility of buying missiles for the S300 surface-to-air system during a visit to Russia on Thursday. This puts Athens in a strange light given the Greeks' current situation, the conservative daily Lidové noviny writes: "News of Greece buying Russian weapons wouldn't spark any interest under normal circumstances. Greece has been using the S300 system since Yeltsin's times, when Russia was still a Nato partner rather than its opponent, as it is now. Greece is known for having the highest military expenditure of all the European Nato partners. And that's entirely okay. But the image conveyed by Kammeno's negotiations in Moscow completes a critical mosaic. … It's about the timing of the minister's talks in Moscow, and the current climate. Is this supposed to be the image of a Western state looking for a way out of the crisis, trying to get rid of its debts and reinforcing trust in its allies?" (17/04/2015)

Mandiner - Hungary

Far-right Jobbik party is sexy

The far-right Jobbik party has been able to attract voters in Hungary above all thanks to its youthful image, journalist Gábor Kardos writes on the web portal Mandiner: "How to explain the fact that the party has so many inspired, clever young members who don't fit in at all with the stereotype of the dumb Jobbik activist, a loser who blames others for his lack of success: the Jews, the Roma and other scapegoats. Today it is among the young that Jobbik is most popular. … In human communities, the question of where the most attractive and coolest youths go has always been decisive, because those who join them are in the club of winners for life. In the language of marketing that means the coolest commodity is the one that is sexy. And Jobbik simply is sexy." (16/04/2015)

ECONOMY

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Le Monde - France

EU must not persist with Google offensive

The EU is right to press anti-trust charges against Google but it must also do more to promote data protection, the daily Le Monde believes: "It's definitely a good thing that Europe is going on the offensive in this area. ... But it's not enough. If it wants to arm itself and protect its citizens and companies in an increasingly digitised world, the EU must pass the General Data Protection Regulation. This was put forward for discussion more than three years ago, and since then the member states haven't stopped quibbling over it. Europe must address the question of digital sovereignty. If we want to avoid total dependence on the US Internet giants, we should encourage the emergence of European web giants. The EU must make the digital world a priority for its development." (17/04/2015)

SOCIETY

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Blog Adevărul - Romania

Putin casts himself as father of the people

Russian President Vladimir Putin answered questions put to him by the Russian public for four hours on Thursday in his annual televised call-in session. The fact that many banal issues were among the roughly two million questions submitted can be put down to political calculation, journalist George Damian writes in the blog of the liberal-conservative daily Adevărul: "Putin's image team allowed the wife of a general to ask if, as commander-in-chief of the army, Putin could not order her husband to let her have a dog. ... The fact that such a banal question can make it into such a high-level event as Putin's annual televised question-and-answer session is the best proof that the goal was to cultivate his image as father of the people. Maybe the general is allergic to dogs. Maybe he and his wife can't agree on the breed. But if Putin can get the Russian public to believe he can arrange everything in their private lives, anything is possible." (17/04/2015)

Rzeczpospolita - Poland

Russian biker convoy should be banned

The Russian biker gang Night Wolves, whose leader is said to be a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, plans to head to Berlin via Poland in a convoy at the end of April. If Russia can ban Hollywood films, as it did this week with the film System, then Warsaw also has the right to prevent the bikers from entering the country, the conservative daily Rzeczpospolita writes: "The Hollywood thriller about a serial killer whose conviction was criminally delayed by the Soviet secret police seems to pose a threat to the Russian psyche - just as Rambo and James Bond once did to the Soviets. The incident does have a positive side though: if Russia can ban all films that fail to present Soviet officers as paragons of virtue from entering its territory, then have we also have the right to to ban admirers of Stalin and the hammer and sickle - like the Night Wolves - from entering ours." (17/04/2015)

De Volkskrant - Netherlands

Rejected refugees need food and a bed

A fierce conflict has broken out in the Dutch coalition over services for asylum seekers whose applications have been refused. The Social Democratic party PvdA wants to continue providing them with food, shelter and basic hygienic requirements, while the right-wing liberal VVD does not. The conflict is endangering the stability of the coalition, the left-liberal daily De Volkskrant warns: "If every difference of opinion gives way to such a fierce internal struggle there will soon be not much of a coalition left at all. ... At the same time the question posed by illegal immigrants cries out for a pragmatic solution. The PvdA is right to say that a civilised country does not let people sleep on the street. The VVD is right to say that an asylum system cannot work without bindingly obliging rejected applicants to return home. ... But the VVD also knows that the reality does not always correspond to its agenda. There will always be those who occupy the no man's land between asylum and deportation, because they can't - or refuse to - return home." (17/04/2015)

El País - Spain

Spain makes young people stay in parental home

The statistics agency Eurostat presented a report on the lives of young people on Thursday. The average age at which children leave the parental home in Spain nowadays is 28.9 years. The left-liberal daily El País puts this down to the country's policies:  "Why do Swedes leave the family home at 19.6 years of age while the Croatians - at the other end of the spectrum - don't leave it until they're 31.9 years old? The answer is simple: because the Swedes can. And they can because the economic situation there allows them to and they also receive political support, grants and social housing to encourage them to spread their wings, because they know they won't have to return if things don't go well. … In the north the policy helps young people to move out while in the south they stay at home. The unemployment, the underpaid jobs and the lack of rent subsidies are the scissors that clip the wings of Spain's young people." (17/04/2015)

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