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POLITICS

De Volkskrant - Netherlands | 24/07/2014

Dignity of plane crash victims restored

Wednesday was declared a day of mourning in the Netherlands as the first 40 victims of the MH17 plane crash arrived in the country. A worthy occasion, the left-liberal daily De Volkskrant comments: "Today something beautiful happened in the Netherlands. 'The dead have regained their dignity', someone solemnly said. ... First all we had was the shocking death toll. Then came the anger at the tug-of-war over the bodies and the rummaging around in luggage. But the whole time the tragedy remained pretty abstract for most Dutch. ... All this changed when the two airplanes landed in Eindhoven. Now the mourning can finally begin for the relatives. Now the victims are no longer being pushed out of the picture by the perpetrators. Now the black plastic bags have been replaced by proper wooden coffins. Now instead of the pictures of chaos on Europe's periphery we have pictures of order in a country of peace. ... The country has mourned in a way fitting for our society." (24/07/2014)

T24 - Turkey | 24/07/2014

New witch hunt in Turkey

Over fifty high-ranking police officers were arrested on Tuesday in Turkey. Many of those arrested took part in corruption investigations against the government and the criminal proceedings against the underground organisation Ergenekon. The liberal daily T24 sees the arrests as an act of revenge by the government given that Turkey has a long tradition of state persecution that is now targeting government critics: "Turkey has begun a new witch hunt. In the days of one-party rule the communists, Kurds and conservative Muslims were the preferred targets of the persecution. Until the end of the Cold War the communists were at the top of the list. Then when the Soviet regime collapsed, the communists were suddenly forgotten, and the witch hunt focussed pitilessly on the Kurds. ... Today anyone reasonable realises that the current arrests are an act of vengeance." (24/07/2014)

Mladá fronta Dnes - Czech Republic | 24/07/2014

Business as usual despite MH17

A week after the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine, the EU has still not managed to formulate a response and is doing business as usual with Russia, the liberal daily Mladá fronta Dnes complains: "French President Hollande confirmed yesterday that his country would not cancel the sale of two modern Mistral class helicopter carriers, on the grounds that Russia ordered and paid for them three years ago. 'Are we supposed to repay 1.1 billion euros?' he asked. ... This deal should have been cancelled months ago when Russia invaded Ukraine. But the French aren't the only ones to act shamelessly in the turbulent situation after the MH17 disaster. The Dutch, too, who lost the greatest number of innocent victims in eastern Ukraine, have no intention of limiting their cooperation. Particularly Shell's lucrative business with oil reserves in Siberia." (24/07/2014)

Kapital Daily - Bulgaria | 23/07/2014

Isolation forced Bulgaria's government to resign

Bulgaria's Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski handed in his resignation on Wednesday after only a year in office. Not just the protests that have been going on since last summer but also international isolation and the freezing of EU funding forced his government to take this step, the newspaper Kapital Daily argues: "Since 1997 no Bulgarian government has met with such widespread rejection as that of Plamen Oresharski. ... Hardly any European countries extended invitations to the prime minister and foreign minister. ... The government comprising the Socialists and the Party of the Turkish Minority pretended it didn't care. That only deepened the rift and finally led to EU funding being stopped. Of course there are also objective reasons for this sanction, but politically it was meant to demonstrate mistrust of the Bulgarian government. So while the stopping of EU funding was partially responsible for the collapse of the governing coalition, Bulgaria's isolation in the EU hastened the government's resignation." (23/07/2014)

De Morgen - Belgium | 23/07/2014

Belgium's new kamikaze coalition

King Phillipe of Belgium has tasked the Walloon liberal party MR and the Flemish Christian Democrats CD&V with forming a government. The ruling coalition is to include both Flemish nationalists and liberals. The left-liberal daily De Morgen struggles to find a designation for this alliance: "As far as we're concerned, those who find 'kamikaze' too fatalistic can call the government Swedish: liberals (blue), Flemish radicals (yellow) and Christian Democrats (the cross). But the name can't conceal the fact that this unusual formula is explosive and risky. It will be a government that represents only 25 percent of the French-speaking voters. It will require strong shoulders to bear the weight of this imbalance against such a powerful opposition. Whether the MR, with its history of in-fighting, can bear that weight remains to be seen. This also goes for the question of whether the entire future government of a Prime Minister Kris Peeters can stand the pressure." (23/07/2014)

Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland | 23/07/2014

Dubious death toll figures from Gaza

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has compared Israel's policy with that of Hitler, while protests and violent clashes over Israel's military offensive have broken out in several European countries. The liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza comes to Israel's defence: "No one here seems to consider the fact that this is a reaction, and not an act of aggression. The list of casualties serves as proof of Israel's supposedly disproportionate behaviour: 27 dead Israelis, 25 of them soldiers in the Gaza Strip, compared with 600 Gaza residents - most of whom are civilians. ... But this accusation is not justified because these figures are dubious, which is no surprise in times of war. They are compiled by Palestinian organisations that are controlled by Hamas. ... Then they're adopted by the UN. After that the media cite them, quoting the UN as the source. That's what makes them seem believable. But that doesn't alter the fact that they come from Hamas." (23/07/2014)

Hürriyet Daily News - Turkey | 23/07/2014

Erdoğan behaves as if he owns the country

At least 52 high-ranking police officers were arrested on Tuesday, including several who led the corruption investigations against the government last winter. They are accused of espionage and illegal phone-tapping. Once again Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's megalomaniac fantasies are rearing their ugly head, the liberal Hürriyet Daily News comments appalled: "What is their crime? They are all alleged to have belonged to a grotesque 'parallel state structure' or the Fethullah Gülen Islamist brotherhood, or the 'Hizmet' (Service) organization.This period of allegiant civil servants must come to an end in Turkey if this country is to proceed toward a healthier democracy. Just lend an ear to the ever-yelling, tall, bold, bald and always-angry prime minister: 'My teacher … My policemen … My civil servant … My soldier.' It is as if he owns the country and everyone living in it. It is as if he is the worshipful and sacrosanct son of God, who cannot be criticized at all." (23/07/2014)

Novi List - Croatia | 23/07/2014

In Slovenia everyone wants to be EU commissioner

The EU member states must select their candidates for the European Commission - one for each country - by the end of July. Especially in the smaller and poorer countries, the haggling over the highly desirable post is intense, the left-liberal daily Novi List observes: "Slovenia, where a change of government is under way, is particularly affected. In this phase greedy eyes turn to the commissioner post, endowed as it is with so many advantages. It is one of the most desirable posts in the EU's entire bureaucratic apparatus - not exactly famous for its modesty. The outrageous salary of 20,000 euros including other privileges is inconceivable for ordinary mortals, and clearly the reason why Slovenia has so many candidates it could easily put a whole commission together. First and foremost Alenka Bratušek, prime minister up to now, who is also thinking of fleeing to Brussels." (23/07/2014)

Le Quotidien - Luxembourg | 22/07/2014

Exclusion promotes anti-Semitism in France

Violent protests against Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip once again broke out in France on the weekend. Molotov cocktails were thrown and synagogues attacked in Paris and the suburb of Sarcelles. But the real issue behind the religious tensions is less politics than social exclusion, the liberal daily Le Quotidien argues: "The rioters were more driven by feelings of anti-Semitism than by solidarity with the people of Palestine. ... Eternal scapegoats, the Jews are stigmatised as purported supporters of an Israeli policy which many - in France and Israel - in fact condemn. The young people in the problem neighbourhoods will seize any pretext to give vent to their hatred of a society that is increasingly exclusive, whether they're Muslims or not. ... Although such religious tensions are fanned by the growing popular support for the nauseating ideas of the Front National, they are above all rooted in the economic and social situation, which has nothing to do with religion or ethnic origin." (22/07/2014)

Avvenire - Italy | 22/07/2014

Persecution of Christians: Isil shows its true face

All Christians in Mosul in northern Iraq have fled the city in recent days after the extremist group Islamic State (IS),  previously known as Isil, had given them an ultimatum for Saturday afternoon: convert to Islam, leave the city or face death. The Catholic daily Avvenire urges the international community to call those behind the rise of the militia to account: ""People are acting as if the fanatics of Isil came from another planet and had not been backed, armed and financed by the powerful states of the Arabian Peninsula. With these states they share an ideology - Wahhabism, which also produced al-Qaeda. With Isil, Islamic terrorism is becoming a mass phenomenon. ... Yet the intellectuals of the Muslim world are acting as if they can't see any danger. Meanwhile the West is cautiously avoiding calling to account a country like Saudi Arabia, which is an ally of the West and of strategic importance as an oil supplier." (22/07/2014)


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