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Postimees - Estonia | 05/03/2015

Estonia's neo-Nazi image only good for Russia

The Estonian Reform Party has broken off its coalition negotiations with the Conservative People's Party, which has made it into parliament for the first time. Already conspicuous for its far-right rhetoric, the People's Party is now in the spotlight over a blog entry in which one of its MPs praises the economic policies of Nazi Germany. The loss of esteem for Estonia is immense, the liberal daily Postimees fears: "There is one particularly objectionable aspect to the story of the 'positive side' of Nazism expressed by the newly elected MP Jaak Madison: the whole thing fits in perfectly with the image of Estonia as depicted by the Russian media. ... If one wants one can present Estonia as a country in which Nazi torchlight processions take place on a daily basis. And we've been seeing on television for a year now what such a portrayal can lead to." (05/03/2015)

Dennik N - Slovakia | 05/03/2015

Nuclear deal Obama's last foreign policy chance

US President Obama has voiced his annoyance over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's criticism of the nuclear talks before the US Congress. He pointed out that Netanyahu hadn't presented any alternatives to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb. The daily Dennik N comments on the dispute: "Obama has been forced into the very dubious deal with Iran for egoistic reasons. Compared to all the hope he inspired he hasn't got much to show for himself. Worst of all is his performance on foreign policy. His restart policy in US relations with Russia has been drowned in Ukrainian blood. So far the agreement with Cuba is only making life easier for the dictatorship there. A deal with Iran is Obama's last chance to prove his worth in foreign policy. And it looks like the price he is willing to pay for that deal will mean Israel and the US's other allies in the Middle East lose out in terms of national security." (05/03/2015)

Sözcü - Turkey | 05/03/2015

Peace process leads to division of Turkey

Together with the HDP - which has close ties to the country's Kurdish population - the Turkish government presented a ten-point plan for a peace agreement with the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party PKK on Saturday. That can only destroy Turkey's unity, the Kemalist daily Sözcü warns: "Don't be fooled by statements that there will be a new constitution or that the power of regional authorities will be strengthened. They only serve as the introduction to a process that will lead first to the strengthening of the provinces, then to a provisional federal state, and finally to some of our provinces in the east and southeast joining a greater Kurdistan. Forget all the fine words: this is the ultimate goal that this package of measures will lead to. And the most important step in this process is the liberation of [PKK leader] Öcalan and his entry in politics." (05/03/2015)

Diário Económico - Portugal | 04/03/2015

Portugal's cheating PM should go

Portugal's Prime Minister Passos Coelho, who is cracking down hard on tax evasion and abuses of the welfare system, has admitted that he himself omitted to pay social security contributions for years - supposedly unintentionally. The prime minister has lost face for good, the liberal business paper Diário Económico believes: "'Omissions' of this type undermine the moral authority of any office holder. And they're particularly harmful in the context of this government's much-loved moral discourse on respecting financial obligations [vis-à-vis Europe]. ... Such behaviour also clashes with the ruthless treatment of thousands of people by the Finance Ministry and the social security system at a time when belts are having to be cinched tighter. In countries with an exacting political culture like in northern Europe, such 'omissions' cost politicians their jobs." (04/03/2015) - France | 02/03/2015

France's mood of change evaporates

Nothing remains of the much-touted new mood in France after the terrorist attacks in Paris, the left-leaning online portal Mediapart laments: "Did you believe in it? Well you were wrong. The 'spirit of January 11' is dead. France has fallen back into lethargy. There has been no big change, no great plan for getting the fatigued country back on its feet. Or rather, there's been a small change: by invoking article 49-3 to push through the Macron law, which even according to François Holland is 'not the law of the century', the ailing government has taken on authoritarian features. Yet we should have been ready for this: in the three years he's been in power, François Hollande hasn't been behind a single radical change." (02/03/2015) - Spain | 04/03/2015

Podemos must not turn into mainstream party

The Spanish left-wing party Podemos, which is currently doing extremely well in the polls, has increasingly adopted hierarchical structures since its launch in January 2014 and must take care not to become a mainstream party just like the others, warns Samuel Pulido on the left-leaning online portal "One morning the monster woke up after an exciting election dream and found it had turned into just another governing party - with their hierarchies, posts and ready-made rhetoric. A party full of cynics, focussed on containing the democratic onslaught rather than joining it. This is the nightmare that many of us who support Podemos had from the beginning, ever since we realised that an election victory was within our reach. If Podemos has to be a party in order to unblock the rigid institutions, let it at least be a party that is different to those it aims to replace - in terms of both the way it functions and the content it spreads. For its journey through the representative institutions it needs a certain amount of baggage, but much of that baggage is an unnecessary and avoidable burden." (04/03/2015)

Deutschlandradio Kultur - Germany | 03/03/2015

Immigration law counters right-wing sentiment

Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) on Monday presented a position paper for an immigration law with a point system for evaluating potential immigrants. The majority of their conservative coalition partners in the CDU, meanwhile, feel the current regulations are adequate. The public broadcaster Deutschlandradio Kultur praises the SPD initiative: "The louder Pegida's confused followers fuel xenophobic fears, the more the [right-wing conservative party] AfD benefits, and the more conservatives fall back into their old the-boat-is-full mentality. But just the opposite is true, and it's a good thing that the Social Democrats are now launching a counter-offensive against such right-wing ballyhoo. With their point system they want to foster legal immigration. ... Illegal immigration, by contrast, they plan to curb as follows: anyone with a fair prospect of living and working in Germany, they feel, will prefer to spend their money on German courses at a Goethe-Institute than to give it to unscrupulous people smugglers." (03/03/2015)

Irish Examiner - Ireland | 04/03/2015

Nemtsov's murder reminiscent of Stalin era

The murder of the Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov last week reveals parallels between Russia under Vladimir Putin and Stalin's reign of terror, the liberal daily Irish Examiner writes: "Putin may not have ordered the hit on Nemtsov or any of the others. But, like Stalin, he has nurtured a climate of fear and lawlessness, in which those who rally behind the Kremlin feel a duty to eliminate the leader's opponents however they can, and in anticipation of his will. An atmosphere in which unlawful deeds become heroic acts was a signature feature of Stalin's rule. That stifling dynamic has returned under Putin. Today, Andrei Lugovoi, the KGB agent that the British government suspects of delivering the polonium that killed Litvinenko, sits in the Russian Duma." (04/03/2015)

Diário de Notícias - Portugal | 02/03/2015

Tsipras using Lisbon and Madrid as scapegoats

Madrid and Lisbon have demanded a response from the European Commission to the statements made by Alexis Tsipras on the weekend. The Greek Prime Minister had accused the countries' two conservative governments of having tried to torpedo the talks about extending bailout loans for Athens. Tsipras is just looking for someone to blame for his own failure, the liberal-conservative daily Diário de Notícias writes: "Tsipras is trying to repair the damage the agreement with the Euro Group has caused within his party. ... And he's taking a textbook approach here: the best way to achieve unity is to identify an external enemy (even if that enemy isn't real). But Tsipras is in fact making a fundamental mistake, because there aren't just one or two 'opponents' to the Greeks' demands, but 18. And he's just as wrong to identify Portugal and Spain as the conspiratorial ringleaders because everyone knows that it's Germany that calls the shots in Europe." (02/03/2015)

De Volkskrant - Netherlands | 03/03/2015

Dutch politician reveals double standard

After the resignation of Dutch MP Mark Verheijen of the right-wing liberal VVD party amidst allegations that he wrongly declared expenses, Marjolein Faber of Geert Wilders' PVV party is now facing allegations that she secured a government contract for her son. Her resignation is inevitable, the left-liberal daily De Volkskrant comments: "It was Faber who once brought about the downfall of a social democratic provincial politician for cheating. Her reward was recognition as a critical, steadfast representative of the people. She went on to make a name for herself as a watchdog of integrity. ... After the Verheijen scandal the VVD realised that on matters of integrity even trivial things can take on major symbolic value. That's true. Marjolein Faber doesn't believe this affair has damaged her credibility. She of all people should know better. And party leader Wilders too." (03/03/2015)

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