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Athens defaults on IMF payment

Greece is the first industrialised nation to fall into arrears with the IMF and is now regarded as insolvent. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

Greece has failed to make a 1.55 billion euro payment to the IMF that was due at the end of June. Prior to this the Eurozone finance ministers rejected an appeal to extend the country's bailout programme by a few days. The Eurozone has committed an inexcusable mistake by driving the country into insolvency, some commentators write. Others call for an end to indulgence for the debt-ridden country.

De Standaard - Belgium

The Eurozone's incredible mistake

It was an enormous mistake of the Eurozone to manoeuvre Greece into a situation in which it had to default on an IMF payment, the liberal daily De Standaard laments: "It is a shameful defeat for all involved leaders that a member of the Eurozone has been forced to default on its financial obligations. The euro is not merely a market instrument that obeys the laws of supply and demand. It is the concrete expression of the will of hundred of millions of Europeans to share a common destiny. The way in which this will has been played with in recent months has damaged the credibility of the entire European project. … It is an irreparable disgrace. Regardless of the referendum on Sunday and how the Greeks vote, Europe will have to live with this incredible mistake from now on." (01/07/2015)

La Repubblica - Italy

Athens can break the vicious circle

The rejection of further austerity demands is the only sensible way out of the Greek crisis, economist Mariana Mazzucato writes in the centre-left daily La Repubblica: "As Greece's finance minister Varoufakis has repeatedly stressed, Greece isn't suffering a liquidity crisis but a solvency crisis that in turn has been caused by a competitiveness crisis and been exacerbated by the financial crisis. A crisis of this type can't be solved with more and more cutbacks, but only with a serious investment strategy accompanied by real and not pro forma reforms to boost competitiveness. In the false belief that this is merely a liquidity crisis, too much focus was put on the debt repayment deadlines and stringent austerity requirements for new bailout packages which without growth and competitiveness can never be repaid, thus creating a vicious circle." (01/07/2015)

Blog Pitsirikos - Greece

Greeks must vote no

Greece's opposition leader and former prime minister Antonis Samaras has described Sunday's referendum as a vote on whether or not to remain in the EU - and not on the creditors' austerity demands. But only by voting no can the Greeks stay in the European Union, blogger Pitsirikos writes: "If all the Greeks were to vote no, Greece's position in the European Union would be secure. Saying yes to the requirements would sooner or later lead to Greece exiting the EU. Only a no would be taken seriously by the EU leaders. In addition, other European countries that are keeping a close eye on the situation will follow our lead. A yes would mean prolonging the policy of sky-rocketing state debt, impoverishment, emigration and all the other ills that austerity has brought with it. A yes would mean subordination. And that would be the end." (30/06/2015)

The Irish Times - Ireland

Irish success story just a myth

In the austerity policy debate Ireland is often described as a success story among the EU crisis states. But that's not quite the reality of the situation, the centre-left daily The Irish Times argues: "'The Pride of Europe' is a makey-up story that is intended to take the place of the realities it displaces. It's not a stand-alone narrative. It has an evil twin: Greece. It belongs to a particular genre of fiction: the morality tale. Ireland is the pride of Europe because it is the anti-Greece. We are good because we play along with the bigger stories of the euro zone crisis. Greece is evil because it stopped doing so. … We exist, not as a society, but as a necessary validation for a destructive fiction." (30/06/2015)

Die Welt - Germany

Europe must stop doting on its problem children

Europe should part ways with its problem children and follow a self-assured path to economic excellence, the conservative daily Die Welt urges: "Instead of gingerly and guiltily defending economic success, the EU should proclaim even louder that the (for the most part) luxurious living standards in Europe must be fought for on a day-to-day basis in the global competition. For years Europe has hindered its own progress by caring - and paying - for its problem children, instead of developing itself as a high-wage region and cultural landscape where excellence is the order of the day. ... Europe is a cultural and economic success story. The majority of Europeans put ambition above redistribution. Hence European consolidation is only possible in the form of an association of sovereign - and in particular economically sovereign - states. Merkel must now do something she's not particularly good at: stop moderating and take a risk. She must put herself at the forefront of progress. With like-minded people for a Europe of excellence." (30/06/2015)

POLITICS

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Radikal - Turkey

Turkish buffer zone in Syria unrealistic

After a meeting of the National Security Council on Monday, pro-government media in Turkey have reported on plans by Ankara to establish a buffer zone in Syria. This option is unrealistic, the liberal Internet paper Radikal believes: "The talk is of a 110-km long and 35-km wide zone patrolled by 18,000 soldiers. ... Pro-government newspapers are saying that Turkey can carry out such a mission without the help of US generals. But without US air support it will be hard for Turkey to implement the plan. ... The US hasn't changed its attitude to a no-fly zone, and isn't about to do so. ... Because shortly before the conclusion of the nuclear talks, Washington is keen not to anger either Russia or Iran. ... In the current situation where Turkey still lacks a new government and the people so clearly reject the former government's policy on Syria, the government can't seriously consider an intervention in Syria." (01/07/2015)

euinside - Bulgaria

Scrapping of roaming is progress for EU

The EU plans to abolish roaming fees for mobile phones within the EU as of June 2017. This is an important step for European integration, Adelina Marini stresses on the euinside blog: "After waiving visa requirements, introducing the Euro, and the creation of the banking union the suspension of roaming as of 15 June 2017 is the next big step in European integration. It is kind of ridiculous in a union where you use the same currency to be unable to use your phone and, even worse, your mobile internet freely. In the digital age when big internet companies like Facebook, Google, and Elon Musk's SpaceX are planning to launch satellites to provide the entire world with free internet, it is a total mystery how there can be a common market, a common union in which, while you travel, you keep counting the SMS messages telling you how much a megabyte in roaming costs." (30/06/2015)

Público - Spain

Gag law intimidates Spaniards

In Spain the so-called Citizen's Security Law comes into effect today. Critics call it a "gag law" because it makes it easier for the government to ban demonstrations and have police disperse protesters. This is a dark day for democracy, Arturo González warns in his blog on the left-leaning Público newspaper's website: "The fear of repression for trivialities limits our private and social activities. This is a grave and unnecessary step backwards on what has taken so much effort to achieve. Democracy has been weakened. We are being set back to a past that has not yet been completely forgotten. The times of oppressive governance, of fear being used as a political weapon, of order taking precedence over any discrepancy. The police are being given more powers and the judiciary is losing them. And the government is positioning itself as the great censor of the citizens' morality." (01/07/2015)

ECONOMY

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Le Figaro - France

Paris no better at finances than Athens

According to a report put out by the statistics office Insee on Tuesday, France's national debt rose by 51.6 billion euros in the first quarter of 2015 to 97.5 percent of GDP. The fact that the Socialist government under President François Hollande is planning further government spending is preposterous, the conservative daily Le Figaro complains: "It's incomprehensible that the government remains optimistic in this disastrous situation, and above all that the head of state has approved a surreal 'redistribution'. The creation of tens of thousands of subsidised jobs or the promised pay rise for civil servants will be paid for with uncovered checks that will further weigh down the drunken ship of state debt. François Hollande continues to lecture Greece on state financing while it sinks with all hands on board. He would do well to take many of his own recommendations to heart." (30/06/2015)

Der Standard - Austria

Short-sighted easing of network neutrality

In a compromise hacked out in the middle of the night the EU Commission, the Council of Ministers and the EU Parliament have decided to relax the network neutrality rules that have applied in Europe up to now. The centre-left daily Der Standard criticises the decision: "Only absolute network neutrality guarantees start-up companies the same chances as large companies. If for instance the music streaming service Spotify makes deals with Internet service providers to supply streamed music beyond the data limits, this puts 'small companies' in particular at a disadvantage because they can't afford such deals. It is a pattern that has been repeated in many Internet policy decisions in recent years: a series of short-sighted decisions have been made that favour the interests of certain lobby groups - namely the Internet service providers. … In view of such requirements, it's no wonder Europe lacks a start-up culture that can compare in any way with that in Silicon Valley." (01/07/2015)

Helsingin Sanomat - Finland

Russia too involved in nuclear plant project

Energy company Fennovoima submitted an application to build a nuclear power plant on Tuesday and at the same time presented a new partner from Croatia for the project. The liberal daily Helsingin Sanomat doubts this will reduce Russian influence: "Even if the company tried to present the Fennovoima project as being just about energy, this is not at all the case. Ever since the Russian state-owned company Rosatom became a shareholder and reactor supplier in 2013 the project has been about Russia too. … The war in Ukraine has brought concerns about dependence on Russian energy to new levels in the EU. … The sudden, last-minute appearance of a small Croatian company has also caused surprise. … Particularly as its background is not clear this surprise shareholder seems dubious. There are suspicions that it's a Russian cover company." (01/07/2015)

The Malta Independent - Malta

Fish eaters endanger Maltese diving paradise

This year too, over-fishing of coastal waters to supply restaurants at the peak of the tourist season poses a major threat to fish stocks. In the long term this could well do more harm than good to the country's tourist industry, the centre-left daily The Malta Independent warns: "We are vociferous in our condemnation of stripping land based ecosystems and migratory birds, but because most cannot see what goes on under the surface, then they are oblivious to what is going on. This is unsustainable. Diving enthusiasts are up in arms at the ever dwindling stock of marine life that makes Malta's coast its home. … Some will argue that tourists' tastes must be catered for, but equally, what about those high end tourists that spend thousands of euros to come to Malta to enjoy the diving? Are we prepared to lose those?" (30/06/2015)

SOCIETY

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Le Temps - Switzerland

No miracle cure against jihadists

The French Controller-General of Prisons, Adeline Hazan, proposed on Tuesday that jihadists should be interned together. This contradicts the position of Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who in January spoke out in favour of keeping extremist prisoners separated from each other. Both politicians are pretending there are simple solutions in the fight agaist jihadists, the liberal daily Le Temps criticises: "Mixing criminals of all different types is like throwing the weak to be gobbled up by the strong. If extremists are kept separate from other prisoners, they are deprived of the crucial possiblity to exchange views. And who is to say who's a jihadist and who isn't? ... There is no miracle cure for the radicalisation of a minority, just measures that are hard to implement and can only take effect over time. Accordingly, these measures don't appeal to those who are in the public eye, are worried about their image and are unwilling to admit that their first obligation is simply to avoid making the situation worse." (01/07/2015)

Právo - Czech Republic

Lock up the Stasi ghosts

Andrej Babiš, Czech deputy prime minister and the leader of the Ano movement, was acquitted without further appeal of charges of having worked for the communist state security service before 1989 on Tuesday. The leftist daily Právo, the successor to the Communist Party's central organ Rudé právo, is delighted with this judgement, arguing that it's high time the country put its past behind it: "The court in Bratislava has deprived all Babiš's political opponents of their truncheon - a truncheon that was rotten and filled with woodworm right from the start. … The opposition displayed considerable cheek in trying to hit Babiš with this truncheon although the whole thing happened at least 30 years ago. The voters are tired of the rhetoric against the state security service. The ghosts of the times of communism that the right-wing opposition brings out of the closet whenever it cares to have lost their shock impact. After Bratislava's ruling it's time to shut them in the closet for good." (01/07/2015)

MEDIA

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Newsweek Polska - Poland

Democracy must put up with ultraconservatives

Polish TV viewers have set up a Facebook page on which they demand that television stations stop inviting journalist Tomasz Terlikowski and theology professor Dariusz Oko because of their ultraconservative views. But such a measure disregards the pluralism of opinions, the liberal news magazine Newsweek Polska contends: "The fact is that the two have repeatedly insulted gays and lesbians, as well as proponents of artificial insemination - and in the most crude manner. .. But does that mean they should be boycotted? We've all got a zapper. We can change the channel and watch a football game, a film, the news or a lifestyle programme instead. ... The fact is that we live in a democracy and must come to terms with opinions that differ from our own - whether we like it or not." (01/07/2015)

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