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Abbas calls Oslo Accords into question

The Middle East peace talks were suspended after the last attempt at mediation by US Secretary of State John Kerry failed in 2014.


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the Oslo Accords into question in his speech before the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, arguing that Israel was continually breaching the agreements. Some commentators accuse Abbas of lacking the will for dialogue. Others call on Israel to stop the West Bank settlements.

La Repubblica - Italy

Palestinian president alienating everyone

Palestinian president Abbas seems to lack any will at all to start a dialogue, the centre-left daily La Repubblica laments: "The speech caused confusion even in Fatah, the president's own party. Mahmoud Abbas made no mention of resuming the peace talks. He confined himself to denouncing the injustices. But this clearly won't be enough to prompt Israel to give up the settlement policy it has pursued for 40 years in the West Bank. This is a sign that the patriarch's autumn has begun. A sign of a presidency worn down after not achieving any victories worth mentioning in eleven years of rule. The 80-year-old has repeatedly brought up the possibility of his resigning. But then he stays on and rules with an iron fist. He tolerates neither criticism nor objections, and this is why his circle of close confidantes has dwindled to just a handful of people." (01/10/2015)

Kristeligt Dagblad - Denmark

Responsibility for peace also lies with Israel

Israel urgently needs to change its settlement policy, the daily Kristeligt Dagblad writes commenting on Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas's announcement that the Palestinians would no longer be bound by the Oslo Accords: "Both parties share the blame and without doubt Israel is right to fear that a Palestinian state could be taken over by Islamist forces like Hamas. Both Israel's settlement policy and its military occupation of the West Bank hurt the country itself. Not just because international support for Israel is dwindling but also because the illegal settlements are damaging to the country's soul and its self-identity. … If Israel's security depends on full control of the West Bank, then Israel should send soldiers there, not settlers who make it impossible for the Palestinians to organise their own territory and found businesses. … It is mainly up to Israel to do more for peace." (02/10/2015)

Spiegel Online - Germany

Nothing but empty threats

The threat of termination of the Oslo Accords won't have any repercussions, the news portal Spiegel Online believes: "Abbas was primarily addressing his own people when he announced on the international stage that his 'patience' was at an end. The long-term president is more unpopular with his population than ever before. ... Abbas's threats are largely empty. His statement about the 1993 Oslo Accords remained vague - and put the ball back in Israel's court. There was no obligation to hold to the Agreement as long as Israel refused to stop the settlement of the occupied territories, he said. But he didn't give an ultimatum. And anyway there haven't been any peace talks since the failed initiative by US Secretary of State John Kerry. The Palestinian leadership is increasingly unwilling to see negotiations with Israel as a true chance for peace." (01/10/2015)


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Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland

Proxy war between US and Russia

According to reports in the media Russia is not only attacking IS targets in Syria but also the bases of other rebel groups. This support for Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad will deepen the conflict between Russia and the US, writes the centre-left daily Tages-Anzeiger: "The battle between the rebels and the regime has become a proxy war between America and Russia in which both major powers are directly participating. A quarter of a century after the end of the Cold War military representatives from Washington and Moscow are once again talking about how to prevent the fighter jets of both sides from shooting down each other by mistake. This is a step back into dark times, and no one can guarantee that at some point a dangerous misunderstanding will result. The chilling aspect here is that if you look at Putin's behaviour in recent years, you see that precisely this step backwards was his goal all along." (02/10/2015)

De Volkskrant - Netherlands

Russian bombs no solution for Syria

A solution to the Syria conflict is further away than ever, warns the centre-left daily De Volkskrant after the start of the Russian airstrikes: "Everything indicates that what Moscow really wants is to keep Assad's army in the saddle to strengthen the Syrian president's bargaining position. The Kremlin is convinced that the chaos will only grow in Syria if Assad's regime collapses. Russia's intervention will certainly be effective in the short term: the rebels are powerless against the Russian fighter jets. But in the long term the bombings will only hinder negotiations on a change of regime. ... However, even Moscow will admit in the end that there can be no solution with Assad. And then both Russia and the West will have to accept a painful compromise." (02/10/2015)

Jutarnji List - Croatia

Ex-prime minister's release amnesties HDZ

The highest court in Croatia has overturned the corruption sentence passed down on former prime minister Ivo Sanader for technical reasons. The ruling comes at just the right moment for the co-defendant opposition HDZ party, the liberal daily Jutarnji List notes: "Less than two months before the parliamentary elections Sanader's release is a political issue, even if it has little influence on voting. ... Sanader's 'not guilty' verdict also amnesties the HDZ, which is now led by Tomislav Karamarko. He could not have wished for a better gift in this election campaign. Just a few months ago the HDZ was branded a criminal organisation, in whose party headquarters whole sacks of money traded hands. Karamarko's only answer was that as minister of the interior [2008-2011] he was the one who had made the fight against corruption possible in the first place. He excluded Sanader from the party but was always careful not to call him a criminal." (02/10/2015)

L'Orient le Jour - Lebanon

Exodus from Europe: Lebanon is a powder keg

Around one third of Lebanon's population is made up of refugees, mainly Palestinians and Syrians. The next wave of immigrants heading for Europe will come from there, the Lebanese daily L'Orient - Le Jour warns: "Allowing the misery to grow and endure for lack of financial resources will only turn these camps into terrorist hotbeds. As integration along European lines has been ruled out, international funding can only serve to improve the refugees' conditions on location. And the Lebanese know better than anyone how long such a situation can last. … Do Lebanon's friends really want to come to its aid? Then it is no longer a simple question of money. They should lend an ear to the warnings recently issued by Johannes Hahn, the Austrian commissioner for European enlargement. For him the next big wave of migrants can only come from Lebanon, a fragile, unstable, indebted country hard hit by unemployment - a dangerous combination." (30/09/2015)

Diário Económico - Portugal

Portugal needs clear election results

Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho's conservative ruling coalition and the opposition Socialists led by António Costa are neck and neck in the polls ahead of Portugal's general elections on Sunday. The liberal business daily Diário Económico hopes for a clear election outcome: "A comfortable majority for the Socialists, or for the [conservative] coalition for that matter, would be preferable because otherwise the country may face a period of major instability. Naturally coalitions are more democratic than absolute majorities, but coalitions with different programmes generally don't produce good results. Portugal needs the markets to finance itself, and the rating agencies have already warned against the dangers of a lack of political consensus. … If the election outcome isn't clear Portugal could plunge into ungovernability - with all the negative consequences that entails." (01/10/2015)

Ziare - Romania

Romania's PSD digging its own grave

The Social Democratic Party (PSD) in Romania of which Prime Minister Victor Ponta is also a member will elect a new presidency on October 11. The only candidate for the chairmanship is Liviu Dragnea who was sentenced last spring to a year in prison for rigging a referendum. News website Ziare believes this could be the beginning of the end for the party: "The election within the Social Democratic Party not only harks back to the Ceauşescu era but, far worse, shows that the party is in the throes of a serious candidate crisis. And that crisis could be fatal. … In the past the party leadership was hotly contended, with meetings that went on until midnight and spectacular overthrows. But today the only candidate is one who is heavily compromised. Not only is he facing charges but he may be sent to prison in a few months' time. And what happens with the PSD then? Who will take his place? Most likely there will be skirmishes among the different camps and the party will split up into many little pieces." (02/10/2015)


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Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - Germany

Jasper von Altenbockum explains Germany's moral burden

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Germany's reunification on October 3 Jasper von Altenbockum, domestic affairs editor at the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, analyses Germany's image abroad and the way the country sees itself: "Collisions have come and continue to come every time Germany is expected to show strong commitment and adopt a leading role in Europe, and then does so with great fervour. This remains the case 25 years after reunification and - as seems to be Germany's fate - it will stay that way for some time to come. It makes things even harder for Germany that within the country moral missions are frequently formulated that have their origins in Germany's past, but impede its political capacity to act. Nowhere is this clearer than in Germany's migration policy, which is sweeping away all state borders and can only be explained as a kind of atonement for the country's past. All the other European states are taking a very different approach, that of a stringently defined state that seems authoritarian and inhumane to the Germans, who are far more eager to be a moral nation than a state nation." (02/10/2015)


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Público - Spain

Spain's recovery just numbers

Spain's purported recovery is just the government playing with numbers, Isabel Rodríguez García comments irately in the left-wing online paper Público: "It can't be about economic recovery at any cost. Either the recovery goes hand in hand with social recovery or it isn't recovery at all. Mariano Rajoy and Co. are looking in the wrong direction. It looks like the statistics are hiding the reality, or worse still, the government is trying to conceal its political failure with numbers. A recent OECD report provides a balanced assessment of government's labour market reform. … Spain has the largest percentage of young people working part-time involuntarily. … Wages dropped by 35 percent between 2008 and 2014. … Particularly worrying is the warning that this kind of 'sub-employment' is affecting the self-esteem of low earners and increasing the risk of poverty." (02/10/2015)

Rzeczpospolita - Poland

Poland makes Tauron state-owned company again

The Polish government, which sits on the board of utility company Tauron, fired the chairman of the board on Thursday in a surprise move. Rumour has it that he wanted to sell a financially ailing mine on the cheap. With this solo action the government has ignored the company's minority shareholders, the conservative daily Rzeczpospolita criticises: "In principle it would be easy to say that the government did the right thing. The problem, however, is that Tauron is not one hundred percent state owned. Because the [governing] PO party sold a large part of the company's shares to small shareholders under its overblown initiative 'shares for the people'. ... This decision is a step in the right direction as far as the endless chapter of the restructuring of the mines is concerned. But it is also a slap in the face for the minority shareholders. Now no one will believe that the politicians will bear them in mind in times of crisis." (02/10/2015)


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The Daily Telegraph - United Kingdom

Ban on smoking in cars intrudes on private space

Smoking in cars containing children or youths was banned in England and Wales on Thursday. An unacceptable intrusion in private life, the conservative paper The Daily Telegraph rails: "There are good arguments for this: youngsters rarely have any choice but to travel with their parents and it has been proved that they can be harmed by the toxic fumes. ... But whatever the rationale, this measure represents an encroachment by the state into our private space. Furthermore, the logical extension of banning smoking in cars because it is harmful to children is to forbid it in the home, too. Indeed, campaigners have only refrained from proposing such a law not because it is illiberal, but because it could only be enforced by snooping. That would be an intrusion too far." (01/10/2015)

Rigas laiks - Latvia

Exodus to Europe: Why Latvia's Russians don't like immigrants

Rejection of refugees is high among Latvia's Russian minority, the liberal monthly magazine Rīgas laiks notes, and gives an explanation: "They're jealous. The arrival of refugees means that the Russians will be displaced politically by the refugees, who will now be in the spotlight as the ones to be integrated into society. Soon the Russians will no longer be the only stateless people in Latvia. And there are also economic reasons for the Russians' jealousy. Unemployment is high among the Russian minority in Latvia. That condemns them to uncertainty and financial dependence, a status they will no doubt now have to share with the new arrivals. Latvia's liberal nationalists, who prefer refugees from Syria and Eritrea to the former partisans of the Soviet Union, do the rest." (02/10/2015)


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Hürriyet - Turkey

Hate campaigns the norm in Turkish media

The anti-government Turkish TV host and columnist Ahmet Hakan was attacked by four men in front of his home on Wednesday. At the start of September a columnist for the pro-government paper Star had already made a death threat to Hakan. There is too much hatred in the public debate, the conservative daily Hürriyet warns: "The mood in this country has not been normal since June 7. With the massacre in Suruç and the escalating PKK violence, we have become imprisoned in an atmosphere of tension and crisis. While the conflict worsens in the south-east of the country and our children lose their lives, the media are also affected by this escalation. Newspaper owners are being threatened and shot at, and the windows of newspaper offices are being smashed. ... Threats, lies and violence have become the norm on TV screens. ... This menacing, destructive mood in the newspaper columns must end. We need a more constructive, more innovative way of thinking, one that is more open to self-criticism." (02/10/2015)

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