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Karjalainen - Finland | 27/02/2015

Not the time to replace Swedish with Russian

The cultural committee of the Finnish parliament on Wednesday rejected a petition calling for the abolishment of mandatory Swedish lessons in schools. That should also put an end to calls in the east of the country - where Russian tourists were in the habit of spending large sums of money until the fall in value of the rouble - to have Swedish replaced by Russian. Stepping up Russian-language instruction would also be wrong in view of the Ukraine crisis, the liberal daily Karjalainen concurs: "If this were only about the exchange rate, sooner or later things would get back to normal. Now, however, it is a matter of global politics and there is no silver lining to the clouds overhead. The time when we could have abolished Swedish classes and replaced them at least in part with Russian has ended quicker than expected. Even a partial switch would enhance Russia's image, and the country would not fail to ruthlessly exploit this. Meanwhile Finland's image would suffer." (27/02/2015)

Eesti Päevaleht - Estonia | 26/02/2015

Put Estonian women in parliament

In the World Economic Forum's 2014 Global Gender Gap Report, Estonia ranked 64th overall and 88th in the political category. This prompts political scientist Alo Raun to call on the population to give more votes to women in the upcoming parliamentary elections on March 1. "The key point here is the message it sends to society: women in power are no longer a taboo subject. If parliament sets an example it could lead to women being promoted in companies and encourage young women to be more ambitious in their choice of career. ... Quotas and women at the top of the parties' lists of candidates are a way to accelerate this trend. But it has barely been made use of so far. That's why the voters themselves can make the biggest contribution to gender equality - by voting for women." (26/02/2015)

Göteborgs-Posten - Sweden | 27/02/2015

Clearing Roma camps won't solve any problems

Local politicians in several Swedish cities want to crack down on illegal Roma camps. Last year alone 27 new camps sprang up, conservative local politician Anna König Jerlmyr said on Tuesday and along with colleagues from Göteborg called for quicker evictions. This won't make the problem go away, the liberal daily Göteborgs-Posten argues: "To simply drive beggars out of their makeshift dwellings only shifts the homeless elsewhere. Rather than solving the problems it only reinforces them. If we really don't want these barrack settlements we need to provide alternatives. Construction trailers, camping sites, youth hostels - there are many options. If Göteborg provides basic overnight accommodation we can ban camps with a clean conscience and prevent them from turning into permanent slums." (27/02/2015)

Jyllands-Posten - Denmark | 27/02/2015

Denmark finally acting against anti-Semitism

Denmark took anti-Semitism all too lightly before the attacks in Copenhagen in which a Jewish security guard was killed, the liberal-conservative daily Jyllands-Posten believes: "Where was the debate when Jewish children had to go to school under police protection? Where were the protests against a mayor of Copenhagen who called on Jews not to wear Jewish symbols at a multicultural festival? There was a strange, unbearable lightness about the reactions to public anti-Semitic incidents - until the most recent terrorist attacks in Copenhagen. Since then, official Denmark has flooded the small Jewish community with condolences. The prime minister led the way with urgent, necessary and strong words, followed by society as a whole. We are all responsible for the well-being of the Jews in Denmark. Now most people seem to have understood that. It was high time too." (27/02/2015)

Politis - Cyprus | 26/02/2015

Greeks' fatal fondness for symbolic figures

In Greece the famous composer Mikis Theodorakis has asked Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to push harder for an end to the austerity policy. This intervention by a symbolic figure of the left is typical of Greece - and anything but productive, the liberal daily Politis criticises: "The country has destroyed itself because the Greeks voted for their political symbols, worshipped them and made icons of them in order to have them govern the country. ... The Greeks have always lived with symbols without seeing reality. For them it's only natural that famous singers, composers, actors, directors - and even athletes - should have an opinion on political and social events. And they attach special importance to those opinions even before they have heard them." (26/02/2015)

Hospodářské noviny - Czech Republic | 26/02/2015

Populism after Czech shooting spree

The Czech Republic is in shock after a mentally disturbed man went on a shooting spree in the town of Uherský Brod in the east of the country on Tuesday, killing eight people before turning his weapon on himself. Following the tragedy Interior Minister Milan Chovanec called for stricter gun control laws. The liberal business paper Hospodářské noviny is not convinced: "Tighter regulations on gun possession could hardly have prevented the massacre in Uherský Brod. Of the three biggest mass killings in the Czech Republic, only the last was committed with firearms. ... Also very controversial is Minister Chovanec's claim that the Czechs own too many weapons. With a population of ten million, our country counts 780,000 firearms. That's fewer than in Germany, and far fewer than in Switzerland, which has 2.3 million guns for a population of eight million. ... Sure, it's good to discuss the prerequisites for ownership of firearms. But with his populist stance Chovanec is shooting from the hip." (26/02/2015)

Trud - Bulgaria | 24/02/2015

Bulgaria pushing Roma into arms of terrorists

The failed integration of the Bulgarian Roma may make them more susceptible to the ideology of Islamist terrorists, the daily Trud fears: "The Roma minority in Bulgaria is far more marginalised than the Pakistanis in Britain or the North Africans in France. ... We know that Radical Islam is already present among Bulgaria's Roma, and that the lack of immigration only favours its spread. ... The lesson to be learned from terror attacks in Britain, France and other countries is clear: if marginalised minorities aren't integrated, someone will come along and show them that they aren't 'fucking Pakis', 'les beurs' or 'dirty gypsies', with the goal of turning them into terrorists. Since integration in Bulgaria exists only on paper, we will have to brace ourselves for terrorist violence in the future." (24/02/2015)

La Croix - France | 25/02/2015

Hollande must reconcile Jews and Muslims

The heads of France's Jewish association CRIF and the French Council of Muslim Faith set aside their differences at a joint reception on Tuesday in the Elysée Palace. They had fallen out after the head of the Jewish umbrella organisation blamed young Muslims for anti-Semitic acts of violence. The Catholic daily La Croix calls on President François Hollande to do even more for inter-faith reconciliation: "By publicly playing the role of mediator between the representatives of the religious communities, François Hollande has conveyed a positive image of republican secularism in the service of national unity. The two leaders had accepted the invitation, and promised to continue their dialogue. But the statements made by the one and the reaction of the other make clear just how tense people are. It will take more than a handshake to re-establish the conditions for an authentic dialogue between French Jews and Muslims." (25/02/2015)

Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland | 25/02/2015

German mandatory vaccines counter-productive

Even after the measles death of a child in Berlin the daily Tages-Anzeiger is convinced that making vaccines mandatory is just as wrong as stigmatising those who refuse to have their children vaccinated: "The side effects are so minor that advocates of vaccination believe they're unimportant. But that's a mistake because vaccinations have been successful for so long that even those who haven't been vaccinated no longer come in contact with the measles virus. That's called herd protection. From a psychological point of view, however, the risks of vaccination have risen relative to the dangers posed by the disease itself. This is why the psychologist Cornelia Betsch, who researches vaccination decisions at the University of Erfurt, calls parents who don't have their child vaccinated 'rational egoists' - and she means it in a positive sense. ... But as minimal as they are, if the risks aren't made public it plays into the hands of those parents who notoriously refuse vaccination - and the same goes for mandatory vaccination." (25/02/2015)

Diena - Latvia | 24/02/2015

Latvian restaurants ignore misery in Ukraine

As they do every year, Latvian restaurants and cultural centres celebrated the "Defenders of the Fatherland Day" on February 23. Until the collapse of the Soviet Union this day honouring the Red Army was one of the then socialist republic's most important holidays. But celebrating it this year borders on the obscene, the liberal daily Diena writes: "At any other time we wouldn't have found this all that disturbing, because everyone tries to attract customers as best they can. But playing with public sensibilities in this way when not so far away a war is raging between two countries that until recently considered themselves brother nations is an outrage. Weapons inherited from the Soviet army are being used in Ukraine. Celebrating this day means lending moral support to the misery that reigns in eastern Ukraine, as well as to the policies that have caused it." (24/02/2015)

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