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Sweden recognises Palestinian state

Sweden is the eighth EU member to recognise Palestine as a state. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


The Swedish government announced its recognition of Palestine as an independent state on Thursday. Some commentators criticise the step on the grounds that the Palestinian organisations Fatah and Hamas don't have their territory under control. Others see the move as providing a basis for the Palestinians to negotiate with Israel on an equal footing.

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

Questionable blank cheque for Palestine

Anyone who simply recognises Palestine without any preconditions is making things too easy for themselves and the Palestinians, the conservative daily Lidové noviny believes: "Few people will deny that the Palestinians have a right to self-determination and their own state. The question is when and how this right should be implemented. That is a matter for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. It becomes a problem when a Western country like Sweden recognises the Palestinian state without awaiting the outcome of these negotiations. ... That gives the Palestinians a blank cheque. ... Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström says that a government exists in Palestine that exerts control domestically and on foreign policy. Is she serious? If Fatah and Hamas are in control then they are also responsible for the missiles that are being fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip." (31/10/2014)

Aftonbladet - Sweden

Recognition puts Palestine and Israel on a par

Sweden is already the 135th country to recognise Palestine as a state. For the left-liberal daily Aftonbladet this step is necessary for Israel and the Palestinians to be able to negotiate on equal terms: "This is an important and courageous decision which will hopefully encourage others to follow suit. ... International recognition for a Palestinian state on Israel's border is the first step towards more equality between the two. Only when Israel and Palestine get down to serious negotiations over borders, land, Jerusalem, the economy, refugees and the infrastructure can there be lasting peace. Anyone who is unwilling to recognise Palestine as a state is in favour of maintaining the status quo. In that case daily life in Palestine and Israel will continue to be dominated by death, violence, insecurity, terror and destruction." (31/10/2014)

Público - Portugal

International hypocrisy finally over

Sweden's recognition of the state of Palestine won't solve the problems in the Middle East but it will end the hypocrisy in the international community's stance towards the Palestinians, the liberal daily Público writes. "Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman criticised the decision as 'very unfortunate' and reminded Sweden that relations in the Middle East are far more complicated than 'putting together Ikea furniture'. Well, he certainly forgot something there. ... For sure, the recognition of Palestine doesn't solve the fundamental problems. ... But [Sweden's decision] is a condemnation of the general hypocrisy. How can the UN recognise Palestine's 'observer status' without recognising that very same territory as an independent state? Is Palestine supposed to be a club? A committee? An outpost? A state under construction, as they politely put it? Or is it a state in a perpetual state of destruction, through its own mistakes but also through those of the others who, without using soothing phrases, should save it?" (30/10/2014)


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Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

Putin's worrying airforce manoeuvres

Nato has reported an "unusual level" of Russian air activity over European airspace in the last two days. According to the alliance in total 26 Russian aircraft were intercepted on Tuesday and Wednesday. The left-liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung is concerned: "According to Nato, Russia's air force has tripled its activities in the sky over Europe. That doesn't amount to a new Cold War but it does mean that the communication forms of the Cold War are being revived. Military displays on land, water and in the air always contain a message for the opponent, of which 'Take me seriously' is the most important. ... The Cold War at least followed a reliable, if perverse, kind of logic. After decades of exercises the West and East knew pretty well what to expect from each other. Today Vladimir Putin's intentions are much more of an enigma." (31/10/2014)

Wiener Zeitung - Austria

Anti-Obama takes charge of EU Commission

The new European Commission under Jean Claude Juncker officially starts its work on Saturday. The Luxembourgian Juncker may not be such a charismatic politician but he has other qualities, the liberal state-owned daily Wiener Zeitung explains: "Europe's elite so much wanted a continental counterpart to Barack Obama with his 'Yes, we can'. What they got is a master of tactical compromise, an old-school deal-maker. Juncker is a back room politician, not a showman. In none of the three languages he speaks is he able to bring his audience to their feet. But in contrast to the brilliant orator Obama he knows how to forge alliances and compromises, how to ensnare his opponents and keep his team on his side. ... Europe needs a strategist for its long-term goals and a skilled tactician to master short-term adversities. ... That's the job description - and the flesh-and-blood Juncker fits it far better than the make-believe European Obama." (31/10/2014)

Magyar Nemzet - Hungary

Internet tax would be completely senseless

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán withdrew plans for an Internet tax today, Friday, in the wake of massive public protest. The pro-government conservative daily Magyar Nemzet - usually sparing with its criticism of the government - also sees no point to the tax: "If after landslide victories for the governing party Fidesz in three elections in one year [local, national and European] tens of thousands of demonstrators are now calling for the resignation of the prime minister and his government, there's something strange going on in our country's politics. ... The Internet tax hits everyone in this country, and it's a symbol for the backwardness of the government. The harm it would cause is incalculable. Not only would it make people's daily life less bearable, it would also be seen as a curtailment of democracy and the freedom of opinion." (30/10/2014)

Adevărul - Romania

Banalities dominate Romanian election campaign

Shortly before Romania's presidential election on Sunday journalist Mircea Vasilescu describes the election campaign as devoid of political content in the blog of the liberal-conservative daily Adevărul: "Instead the numerous TV stations, websites and newspapers focused on things like how many houses [opposition candidate] Iohannis owns or whether there are secret service spies among the candidates. ... The public, which is used to the tabloids, clearly isn't interested in the skills or qualities of the new president. All it cares about is new revelations about the private lives of the candidates. ... What's worse? That we have a dirty election campaign or one in which we rack our brains about trivialities? If our future president turns out to be weak and incompetent it will be too late to regret it." (31/10/2014)


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Jutarnji List - Croatia

Jurica Pavičić on the end of gender equality in Croatia

According to a study by the World Economic Forum, Croatia is one of the six countries in which the gender gap has widened in the past decade. The crisis and capitalism are to blame, author Jurica Pavičić writes in the liberal daily Jutarnji List: "Even without sociological studies it's clear that the reasons are to be found with the three Cs: capitalism, crisis, church. ... The paradox of gender equality in Croatia is that the greatest emancipation took place in the darkest times of tyranny [in communist Yugoslavia], while today's democracy and freedom are leading back to inequality. As a result the first two Cs - capitalism and crisis - are far more important than the third. Croatian industry collapsed, but the typical 'male' sectors like dockyards, quarries and refineries are propped up by any means possible. The 'female sectors', by contrast, have fallen like a house of cards. And the explanation lies less in economic necessity than in the general attitude that women's wages are just 'additional pay', and the women who are laid off will now be provided for by the man of the house." (31/10/2014)


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El País - Spain

US monetary policy years ahead of Europe's

The US Federal Reserve announced on Wednesday the end of its monthly purchases of government bonds and mortgage-backed securities aimed at stimulating the economy. It justified the step pointing to positive developments on the labour market. Washington is at the end of a journey Europe hasn't even embarked on yet, the left-liberal daily El País criticises: "While Washington has concluded its cycle of expansive monetary policy with halfway satisfactory results (although the economy hasn't reached its growth potential and salaries are stagnating), the Eurzone hasn't even started that cycle yet. True, the euro starts out at a disadvantage because it encompasses more than just one country, lacks its own treasury and the national economic policies are erratic and contradictory. But this doesn't excuse the lack of debate about monetary and fiscal policy, or the never-ending 'bureaucracy' that serves as an excuse for delaying decisions that should have been taken years ago." (31/10/2014)

Le Télégramme - France

France will not cancel Mistral delivery

Russia's Vice Prime Minister Dmitri Rogosin has interpreted an invitation to the French city of Saint-Nazaire in mid-November as confirmation that France will deliver the controversial Mistral class helicopter carriers. According to Paris, President François Hollande will take the final decision on the day of delivery. Ridiculous hair-splitting, the regional daily Le Télégramme scoffs: "What a joke! This actually means the decision has long since been made. ... Several reasons can explain this decision. Moscow has already paid and the reputation of our defence industry in a highly competitive market is at stake. The situation in Ukraine has eased somewhat and the elections have taken place, even if the pro-Russian separatists continue to exert pressure. The bottom line is that America's demands [to cancel the Mistral delivery] are part of an economic war being waged unremittingly by our allies, who often turn their back on their hallowed principles." (30/10/2014)

Avvenire - Italy

Italy must use EU's Youth Guarantee

With its Youth Guarantee the EU aims to ensure that all people under 25 get a job offer within four months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed. Instead of getting caught up in his job market reforms Italian Prime Minister Renzi must focus on making sure that Italy takes full advantage of the funds offered by the Youth Guarantee scheme, the Catholic daily Avvenire urges: "Italy's regions have access to 1.5 billion euros in total. An experimental phase of a few months would suffice to show that Italy's real problem is not a lack of money. The funds are there but they are either not being used or are being put to poor use. ... Because what has been the result so far: countless meetings, programmatic agreements, new web portals and a couple of ineffectual commercials. ... So far the Youth Guarantee hasn't helped stimulate youth employment and has done even less to ease the path from school into the world of employment." (31/10/2014)

Neatkarīgā - Latvia

Lithuanian gas terminal no blessing for Latvia

The floating liquid gas terminal Independence was moored in the Lithuanian Baltic harbour Klaipėda on Monday. Despite the delight at the prospect of reduced dependence on Russian energy this development is not necessarily positive for neighbouring Latvia, the national-conservative daily Neatkarīgā notes: "For Latvia it no longer makes any sense to build a liquid gas terminal, because in theory the Lithuanians could supply all three Baltic countries with gas in the future. While the terminal gives the Baltic states more energy security, it also dampens Latvia's hopes for new investments in a terminal of our own. This time we are not obliged to support the Lithuanians at any price. The monopoly of the Latvian gas company Latvijas Gāze [shares of which are owned by Russian company Gazprom] doesn't end until April 2017, and we shouldn't risk any penalties by purchasing gas from its rival in our neighbouring country." (29/10/2014)

Irish Independent - Ireland

Water tax for Irish households unfair

Demonstrations against the introduction of a water tax for Irish households are planned for tomorrow, Saturday, in more than 70 Irish cities. The problem is less the fact that water is to be taxed than the way it will be done, columnist Martina Devlin writes in the conservative daily Irish Independent: "This resistance isn't just about people's dislike of yet more taxation. This is about injustice: at being saddled with an expensive quango, and taxed twice for the same commodity - we already pay for water through VAT and other taxes. And while I accept the need for conservation and investment, the Government's proposal of a flat charge for two years shows water charges are really about revenue generation. As it stands, householders have no incentive to turn off taps under a flat tax system." (30/10/2014)


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Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

Apple boss Cook abuses power by coming out

Tim Cook, head of the US computer giant Apple, has come out publicly as homosexual. "I'm proud to be gay", the 53-year-old wrote in a piece for the US magazine Business Week. The liberal-conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung takes a critical view of his move: "First of all it's an abuse of power, and secondly it's a sign of arrogance. In his piece, Cook stands up for diversity and against the discrimination of minorities. That is honourable. The rights of minorities are trodden underfoot in most countries of this world. Furthermore businesses have every right to voice an opinion on social issues. ... But Cook himself is neither a civil rights activist nor a politician. ... He's a manager at the head of a business that doesn't belong to him. He's an excellent manager, but he's abusing his power when, as the head of one of the most closely watched companies in the world, he makes a big deal about his sexual orientation. That's not part of his job." (31/10/2014)

Pravda - Slovakia

Anti-gay alliance must respect rule of law

Slovakia's constitutional court ruled on Tuesday that one of several questions the Alliance for Family, an organisation with close ties to the Church, plans to ask in a referendum in mid-November is irrelevant. The question was aimed at preventing same-sex partnerships from being put on par with heterosexual married couples. The left-leaning daily Pravda calls on the alliance to respect the court's decision: "The alliance calls the constitutional court's decision scandalous and talks of 'judicial tyranny'. In doing so it disregards the principles of the rule of law. The rule here is not that the 'king is the law' but that the 'law is king'. No one is above the law, and that includes the 400,000 people who pushed for the referendum. ... The idea that a majority can use their position of strength to determine the lives of the minority has nothing to do with democracy. ... In those states that allow same-sex marriages there has not been an apocalypse, nor is the traditional family in ruins." (31/10/2014)

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