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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)

Radikal - Turkey | 28/08/2014

Erdoğan remains AKP's leader

The ruling AKP unanimously voted for Ahmet Davutoğlu as its new leader and prime minister at its party conference on Wednesday. His predecessor Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will be sworn in as Turkish president today, Thursday. The hierarchy is clearly defined, the liberal daily Radikal believes: "In his speech yesterday Erdoğan stressed that his new post was not an ending but a beginning. His message can be summed up as 'Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere'. He will move into the Çankaya presidential palace and must give up the party leadership as stipulated by the constitution, but he is the leader. ... This is why Davutoğlu felt compelled to say 'There won't be any disagreements between the president and the prime minister.' ... At the conference it was clear to everyone that the AKP is still Erdoğan's party and that Davutoğlu has taken on a major challenge: namely keeping the party's 50 percent share of the vote." (28/08/2014)

Etelä-Suomen-Sanomat - Finland | 28/08/2014

Finland and Sweden on path to Nato membership

Sweden and Finland will sign a host nation support agreement with Nato within the next weeks. This will enable the Alliance to deploy troops to the two Nordic countries, which will then be tasked with their maintenance and logistics. Nato membership is moving closer, the liberal daily Etelä-Suomen Sanomat comments: "No doubt about it, even if the host nation agreement deepens both Finland's and Sweden's ties to Nato, it still doesn't make them members of the military alliance. And as long as they don't belong to Nato they can't hope for any security guarantees. Nonetheless, the host country agreement shouldn't be underrated. By improving the conditions for taking in and supplying Nato troops in a crisis it makes Finland and Sweden more compatible with Nato. This makes the path to Nato membership and the security guarantees it entails shorter than it was." (28/08/2014)

Libération - France | 28/08/2014

France's left committing political suicide

With the French cabinet reshuffle the Socialists are doing their utmost to commit political suicide, the left-liberal daily Libération believes: "In 2014 the French left is committing hara-kiri. It's slitting its belly open just like the German left did in the 30s. The worrying economic conditions, a catastrophic social situation, terrible results in the by-elections and ominous opinion polls all seem to sound the death knell for the party. Certainly, France was in pretty bad shape even before François Hollande became president and Manual Valls prime minister. But now it's even worse off. ... François Mitterrand was perhaps not really on the left, but no one doubted his stature as president. Today the majority is falling apart. ... The left in this country is a desperate minority, only held together by sturdy institutions." (28/08/2014)

Deutsche Welle - Romania | 28/08/2014

Romanians don't need a whining opposition

Romania's government wants to give MPs two weeks to switch parties without losing their seat in parliament. The cabinet is due to decide on a corresponding decree on Thursday. The Romanian service of the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle is disappointed by the opposition's response: "All we see from the opposition is the same old knee-jerk reaction of a political minority that has no other means at its disposal than to appeal to the authorities. ... But appeals of this sort only convey the impression that the opposition is weak and incompetent. ... Instead of mobilising the Romanian voting public, they turn to the West like they've been doing for the past 25 years. Instead of jostling for terrain with the [governing] PSD, they're running for outside help. That gives a pitiful impression because what voters want is determined politicians who've got what it takes to govern, not a bunch of whiners." (28/08/2014)

Dagens Nyheter - Sweden | 27/08/2014

Swedish PM must stand by refugees

In the run-up to the parliamentary elections on September 14, Sweden's Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has announced that he would continue with his conservative coalition's liberal refugee policy. Nothing more than an empty promise, the liberal daily Dagens Nyheter believes: "More than 10,000 people are still being held in the immigration authority's reception centres even though they've already been issued with residence permits. What's lacking are cities willing to take them in. Reinfeldt has said several times that the municipalities would not be left in the lurch. It's high time to show he is taking this seriously. ... In practice the local governments must shoulder the responsibility for caring for immigrants, meaning that those communities that have taken in a large number of people will need more help in the future. ... Just saying you stand for certain ideas or values is simple. But it's more difficult - and far more important - to say how those ideas are to be turned into reality." (27/08/2014)

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