Local Colour


Duma - Bulgaria | 26/03/2015

Sofia's underground needs English lessons

Since Monday the stations in Sofia's underground train system are announced in both Bulgarian and English. Too bad the speaker's pronunciation leaves much to be desired, the daily Duma notes: "At least the broken English with a strong Bulgarian accent does a lot to improve the mood in the trains. ... Particularly teenagers, who clearly speak better English than the metro employees, get a huge kick when the speaker stutters her way through the names 'Railway Station', 'Lion's Bridge' and 'King's Town Road'. ... Let me get this straight: thousands of workers slaved away for years to create these wonderful stations costing millions of euros, and now we can't find a single person who can correctly pronounce a few English words?" (26/03/2015)

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland | 26/03/2015

Why not a skyscraper in the Alps?

Swiss real estate investor Remo Stoffel presented plans for a luxury hotel in the small village of Vals in the Swiss canton of Graubünden on Wednesday. At 381 metres in height, with 82 floors and rooms costing up to 25,000 euros per night, the project for Europe's tallest building promises brave new business prospects for the the Swiss Alps, the liberal-conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung applauds: "The tallest constructions in Switzerland are already situated in the Alpine region. The Zervreila dam just above Vals is over 150 metres high. Back then entire valleys were destroyed to supply the Swiss plateau with electricity. Now the opposite is the goal: unspoilt nature, Heidi-land kitsch. … Developments in the mountains are based on taste and cultural trends. So Remo Stoffel's tower can't just be disregarded, especially since as we're led to believe the money for the construction project is there. If we had always stuck to our old views there would never have been an Eiffel Tower in Paris. The Alpine region needs freedom for the necessary economic stimulus, even if it doesn't please everyone." (26/03/2015)

Népszabadság - Hungary | 24/03/2015

Hungarians an unhappy lot

According to a Europe-wide study the Hungarians are among the most unhappy people in Europe. The left-liberal daily Népszabadság explains why its fellow countrymen are so aggrieved: "Our government is now going to pressure the ratings agencies that measure collective happiness. After all, it's just not on that our country's satisfaction ratings are at junk status. ... What is striking about other countries is that people don't spend all their time complaining about their state of mind. And they're less aggressive than we are. ... Furthermore women have more prominence in pubic life than they do here, and the state apparatus isn't as corrupt (apart from in Austria, but there at least the press dares to write about such things). What's more, they spend more money on education than on prestigious buildings. And - in Denmark for example - people don't spend their whole time moaning about why they're not happy enough." (24/03/2015)

Standart - Bulgaria | 20/03/2015

Forced holiday on Black Sea a silly idea

Bulgaria's tourism industry fears an extremely weak summer season on its Black Sea coast this year. On the one hand fewer Russian tourists are expected, while on the other a growing number of Bulgarians are turning their backs on local resorts. Tourism associations have now proposed that the equivalent of 30 euros per month be docked from salaries and paid out in the form of hotel vouchers. The daily Standart is not keen on the idea: "It's unacceptable for us to be marched to the beach en masse. Those resorts that haven't been completely built up and that offer quality services for a good price will not remain empty this year either. Workers who can't afford to go on holiday will hardly be delighted to earn 30 euros less per month so they can take a break. And those who can prefer to go abroad. The only ones who stand to profit from the measure are the bad hotels that can't attract guests in any other way." (20/03/2015)

Fakt - Poland | 19/03/2015

Suit and tie suits John Paul II

The Polish Centre for Thought of John Paul II started an advertising campaign on Monday with images of the former pope dressed in a suit and looking as if he were running for president. The TV journalist Monika Olejnik praises the poster in a commentary for the conservative tabloid Fakt: "John Paul II is no different in this campaign from the pope he was in the past. There would only be cause for controversy if he were wearing a Dolce & Gabbana suit. But he's not. Nor do I have the impression that this image has offended anyone. He seems to be standing on a pedestal. And what's so bad about that? The people who created the image were no doubt trying to ask if we bring his teachings to bear in our daily lives. In that case I prefer an image like this to the ugly memorials you see so often in Poland." (19/03/2015)

24 Chasa - Bulgaria | 16/03/2015

Despair in Bulgarian bread sections

Nine out of ten customers at a supermarket in Sofia take fresh bread rolls from a self-service counter with their bare hands, author Elin Rahnev observes in the daily newspaper 24 Chasa, seeing this as a metaphor for the state of Bulgarian society: "A woman reaches into the bread container, presses five or six bread rolls with her bare fingers and then continues her shopping. They mustn't have been warm enough for her. ... Sniffing and coughing, a man bends over the croissants and I think of all the poor people who will come after him and all the diseases they could catch. I observe the situation as if rooted to the spot. Of ten people only one young girl takes the tongs, and I think to myself: that's a terrible result. ... If this is the way we behave we'll keep treading water eternally and moaning about how bad things are in Bulgaria, how the state is good for nothing and so on. But we are the state, and as long as we rummage around in the bread basket with our dirty fingernails without any consideration for others, we can't expect anything from the state." (16/03/2015)

The Malta Independent - Malta | 15/03/2015

Malta wasting money flying voters home

The government in Malta will pick up part of the tab for Maltese citizens to fly home and vote in the April 11 referendum on banning spring hunting. The money would be better spent modernising the country's electoral system, the liberal-conservative daily The Malta Independent rails: "Developing other far more administratively, financially, politically, and organisationally viable ways to get to the ballot does not simply benefit those who are living abroad, it offers those living in Malta the flexibility to choose how to cast their vote. ... I am no mathematician, but even totalling the cumulative costs of flying people down to Malta every election or referendum in the last 10 years would be substantial enough an amount to make a considerable contribution towards creating a far more flexible electoral infrastructure." (15/03/2015)

El País - Spain | 12/03/2015

Castellón Airport finally gets some planes

Ryanair announced on Wednesday plans to become the first airline to fly to Spain's Castellón Airport, which has gone unused since its inauguration in 2011. The left-liberal daily El País points to another absurd major project launched by the autonomous community of Valencia: "And in this way Fabra [the imprisoned ex-president of Castelló province] and Camps [the acquitted ex-president of the autonomous community of Valencia] can say they were right all along. The Sunday day-trippers who were supposed to divert attention from the lack of air traffic must now make way for the Ryanair planes. Will this remain a ghost airport? Yes, but with airplanes. All we need now is for the Villarreal library - which can house 75,000 volumes but whose shelves, following the powerful example of the airport, have remained empty - to be filled with books. Oh, those happy days when the main goal was to waste public money and inaugurate buildings, even if they remained empty shells." (12/03/2015)

Ziare - Romania | 10/03/2015

Romania's embarrassing map faux pas

Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu on Monday handed his German counterpart Frank Walter Steinmeier a document on which Germany was mistakenly shown as occupying France's national territory. A fatal mistake, the news portal Ziare concludes: "The worst thing about this incident is that it reveals a ridiculous amateurism on our part. ... What international significance can we have if we make such crude mistakes? Did none of the employees at the Romanian foreign ministry whose hands this brochure passed through realise that it was France? ... Our geographical location gives us the chance to be an important player alongside Poland. But we can only assume this role if we have a professional, visionary, bold and fearless foreign policy. It is based not only on a competent minister but also on a functioning ministry with real specialists who can distinguish geographically between Germany and France." (10/03/2015)

Other content