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Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany | 01/09/2014

AfD luring Saxony's right-wing conservatives

Sunday's the right-wing conservative Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has won parliamentary seats for the first time in state parliament elections in the German state of Saxony. Those who follow the AfD are travelling back in time to the old Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of 30 years ago, the left-liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung comments: "They encounter national conservatives and Christian fundamentalists, Evangelicals and stringent Catholics, and also people for whom the judiciary is too lax and who want to hear more German music on the radio. Back in the times of Helmut Kohl the Union's right-wing conservatives used to talk like this. ... In Merkel's CDU the right-wing conservatives barely have any say. But among the voters the situation is different. Their unease with modern society is seeking a safe haven. ... Saxony, once the cradle of social democracy, is today the most conservative and right-wing oriented German state. This is why the AfD has found a home here, and this is why the [far-right] NPD party still has its biggest voter base there." (01/09/2014)

Radikal - Turkey | 01/09/2014

Military has no say on Kurdish issue

After its change of head of state and government Turkey still wants to negotiate a peace agreement with Kurdistan's banned Workers' Party (PKK). On Saturday the Turkish Chief of Staff Necdet Özal threatened that the military would take action if the Kurdish peace process compromises Turkey's unity. The military is once again overstepping its powers, the liberal online newspaper Radikal warns: "Whenever the politicians seek a solution to the Kurdish issue this stirs up nationalism and militarism. The military's interference has always blocked a solution. In recent years the military's interventionism has abated, and the politicians have sought a peaceful, arms-free solution. ... The legal demands of the Kurds are being more clearly formulated than in the past, and international human rights standards have been put on the agenda. ... Society plays the decisive role; its representatives are the parliament and their political will." (01/09/2014)

Berlingske - Denmark | 30/08/2014

West must stop expansion of "New Russia"

Russian President Vladimir Putin referred to the separatist areas in eastern Ukraine as "New Russia" in a speech on Thursday. The West must not be intimidated by Putin's rhetoric, the conservative daily Berlingske urges: "So far Putin still hasn't decided how far he'll go. This depends on the West's reaction to his military penetration because Putin has the full support of his own people. And if Putin never stops repeating that Russia is not militarily present in eastern Ukraine, it's only to prevent the West from imposing effective sanctions like blocking Russia in the Swift [international payment] system. ... In the West we must stop kidding ourselves. How much of Ukraine Russia ultimately claims for itself depends to a large extent on us." (30/08/2014)

e-vestnik - Bulgaria | 30/08/2014

Borisov must not become PM again

Bulgarians go to the voting booths on October 5 to elect a new parliament. Opinion polls put the party of former prime minister Boyko Borisov in the lead. If Gerb wins it must not repeat past mistakes by appointing Borisov prime minister, the online portal E-vestnik writes, instead proposing Kristalina Georgieva, Bulgaria's outgoing EU Commissioner responsible for international cooperation, for the job: "She would be the ideal prime minister for Bulgaria. The best compromise that the political forces in the country could reach in view of the difficult domestic and foreign policy situation. Borisov tries to look important but he doesn't enjoy the trust of the West, even if it patted him on the back and supported him when he had the say. With Kristalina Georgieva things would be different. The US and the EU trust her. ... Borisov can't boss her around as he pleases, and his potential coalition partners would support her candidacy." (30/08/2014)

Die Presse - Austria | 01/09/2014

EU must not give in to Putin

In reaction to reports of armed Russian units in Ukraine the EU plans to decide on further economic sanctions against Russia within the next week. Brussels must not be intimidated by Putin's aggression, the liberal-conservative daily Die Presse warns: "His structural advantage is his ruthlessness. The West rejected the military option from the start for fear of an uncontrollable escalation - but Putin didn't. And therefore he is getting his own way like a rowdy everyone avoids because they're afraid of him. If the EU's economic sanctions ever have any political impact, then only in the long term. In the short term they are likely even strengthening Putin's rule. ... Furthermore there's no lack of citizens who would be happy to grant Russia tax-free spheres of influence, as if Europe had never been divided by an invisible Iron Curtain. ... If this appeasement logic had been pursued in 1989 the citizens from Riga to Budapest would all still be under Moscow's yoke." (01/09/2014)

Corriere della Sera - Italy | 29/08/2014

Frontex Plus won't help refugees either

The EU border protection agency Frontex has announced a new programme to help Italy with the task of rescuing refugees on the Mediterranean Sea. "Frontex Plus" will be launched in November, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström said on Wednesday in Brussels after a meeting with Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano. Yet another chapter in the story of Europe's failed refugee policy, the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera contends: "Alfano assures us that the human traffickers' boats will be destroyed. Unfortunately destroying ships that are already junk is the only concrete measure our interior minister announced after the meeting. ... Quite apart from the fact that these boats already sink on their own with no help from anyone else, sinking them won't help to stem the tremendous flood of migrants. ... Even if we destroyed a thousand a month, the traffickers would lack neither boats nor refugees desperate enough to risk the journey. Instead of trying to thwart the middlemen, the people who control them must be stopped - the traffickers themselves." (29/08/2014)

Hürriyet - Turkey | 29/08/2014

Turkish opposition's disrespectful boycott

Turkey's biggest opposition party CHP left the plenary assembly hall in protest as the new president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was being sworn into office on Thursday. They criticise the fact that instead of stepping down as prime minister immediately after his victory in the president election, as stipulated in the constitution, Erdoğan waited two weeks to do so. Their accusations are justified but their boycott was tactless, the conservative daily Hürriyet concludes: "The act of leaving the hall and the catcalls from the benches were the wrong approach entirely. The opposition party's protest, which calls for the republic's customs and traditions to be respected, should have taken place after the swearing-in ceremony. ... The polarisation runs deep, and our culture of political debate is very dangerous. So rather than withdrawing his outstretched hand Erdoğan should should remain open to reconciliation as long as possible and defuse the tensions. For its part the opposition should also see to it that the tensions are lessened. This is necessary both for the sake of our democratic customs as well as to uphold the political spirit." (29/08/2014)

Novi List - Croatia | 29/08/2014

Germany leading the Balkans into the EU

At the Conference of Western Balkan States German Chancellor Angela Merkely stressed the "European perspectives" of the former Yugoslavian states but warned that they must make progress with reforms and strengthen regional cooperation first. Under pressure from the Ukraine crisis and Croatia's and Slovenia's failures, Germany has now undertaken to lead the Balkan states into the EU, the left-liberal daily Novi List comments: "Germany is telling Zagreb and Llubljana that it has had enough of their flimsy excuses and unproductive struggle for dominance of the region. Croatia was expected to actively support Serbia and Bosnia on their path to EU membership, but the EU's newest member has failed utterly. This raises the question of whether Croatia, a total failure economically, has any real clout in the region." (29/08/2014)

Berliner Zeitung - Germany | 29/08/2014

Europe neglects the Balkans

German Chancellor Angela Merkel argued for swift integration of six more Balkan states into the EU at the Conference of Western Balkan States in Berlin. But the meeting was at best of symbolic value, the left-liberal daily Berliner Zeitung criticises: "From time to time you have to show everyone else in the Balkans that they're not being forgotten, that they're also wanted in the EU. That was the declared goal of the strange conference in Berlin to which Chancellor Merkel invited the leaders, foreign affairs and economy ministers of no less than eight countries yesterday. After two hours it was over already. But you're not doing anyone a favour by inviting dozens of dignitaries to a glorified photocall. On the contrary, you're making a show of your lack of interest. ... But the disinterest of the big EU states is just as much an invitation to step in for Putin - who wants to regain lost terrain and revert to the logic of spheres of influence - as it is for [Turkish President] Erdoğan." (29/08/2014)

La Vanguardia - Spain | 28/08/2014

Ceasefire strengthens Palestinians

Israel and the militant Palestinian groups agreed on an indefinite ceasefire on Tuesday. Only the Palestinians have emerged politically stronger from the conflict, the conservative daily La Vanguardia comments: "For many Israelis the ceasefire is a concession that hurts the credibility of their prime minister, who saw his popularity ratings plummet from 82 to 38 during the conflict. ... Meanwhile for the Palestinians the ceasefire is an opportunity to regroup politically if the agreement reached between the Palestinian National Authority and Hamas before the conflict holds. Mahmoud Abbas, who played a key role in the mediation efforts together with Qatar and Egypt, could emerge strengthened from the war if he manages to ensure that the ceasefire is maintained, and could even pave the way for the creation of a Palestinian state." (28/08/2014)

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