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POLITICS

Sega - Bulgaria | 28/01/2015

Monitoring report on Bulgaria far too lenient

The EU Commission presented its monitoring report on Bulgaria on Wednesday. The daily Sega finds it disappointingly innocuous: "This year's monitoring report will be remembered for taking a load off the minds of Bulgaria's politicians. ... Our politicians were trembling over rumours that Bulgaria would be separated from Romania as a hopeless case. But the new EU Commission under Jean-Claude Juncker decided to adopt a friendly tone in its first monitoring report. ... To avoid mocking accusations that it is being too lenient with naughty pupil Bulgaria, Brussels has merely ordered it to write an essay on 'Why I am naughty' and read it in front of the whole class." (28/01/2015)

Avvenire - Italy | 29/01/2015

Al-Qaeda highlights IS's ideological weakness

The Yemeni al-Qaeda offshoot AQAP has taken responsibility for the attack on the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. With its activities al-Qaeda is not only attacking the West but also showing up the contradictions in the ideology of its rival, the IS, the Catholic daily Avvenire comments: "By the looks of it al-Qaeda still holds to its founding ideology: global jihad as a necessary response to the West's purported attempts to destroy Islam. The IS, by contrast, is pursuing a blend of global and local politics. Although it preaches the international jihad it is building up its network within a limited area, namely the Sunni zones between Syria and Iraq. In so proceeding al-Baghadi's movement is above all focused on destroying its internal enemies, in particular the Shiites. ... Al-Qaeda has responded. Through the activities of a local movement it is seeking new visibility, and in passing highlighting the contradictions in the IS's doctrine and ideology." (29/01/2015)

Delo - Slovenia | 29/01/2015

Status quo keeps Kosovo in crisis

Around 2,000 people demonstrated against the government in Priština, the capital of Kosovo, on Tuesday, accusing it of being too compliant regarding their Serbian neighbours. The international administrators of Kosovo are keen to maintain the status quo in the country, which means the conflict will continue to simmer, the left-liberal daily Delo argues: "Because Kosovo didn't achieve its independence through self-determination the country has independence without sovereignty or territorial integrity. Its status is the result of international agreements. Its independence is a formality which doesn't confer real powers. As crisis manager together with the Nato mission Kfor, Eulex ( the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo) is ensuring that the crisis in Kosovo continues but doesn't explode. The international administrators will prevent any violent attempt to seize power and thus ensure that the crisis continues." (29/01/2015)

Die Zeit - Germany | 29/01/2015

Ukrainians also increasingly radicalised

The EU leaders already threatened new sanctions against Russia on Tuesday on the grounds that Moscow is increasingly backing the pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. This assessment should not make us blind to the fact that the war is also radicalising Ukrainian society, the liberal weekly Die Zeit warns: "There is a lot of patriotism and a new sense of solidarity, but also a growing brutality. Volunteers are coming back from the front in eastern Ukraine traumatised and angry. Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko is still pushing for negotiations, but the hardliners who refuse to give up Donbass are growing louder. ... This is Ukraine's dilemma: the worse the situation in the east gets, the bigger the losses, and the louder the hardliners and troublemakers get. Without decisive help from Europe Ukraine won't be able to escape this dilemma. That would be Putin's real victory, and it can still be prevented." (29/01/2015)

The Independent - United Kingdom | 28/01/2015

Kurds are viable allies against IS

After months of fierce battle Syrian Kurds have driven the fighters of the Islamic State (IS) out of the Syrian town of Kobani. The left-liberal daily The Independent hails this as a milestone in the fight against the jihadists: "Syria's Kurds have proved resistant and, in the process, destroyed Isis' aura of invincibility. Fighters from the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the ruling party of Syrian Kurdistan, have proved two things. Firstly, that Isis can be contained and defeated on the ground. But also, that with local forces on the ground, Western military support and air-power can in fact work, and without the need for a Western or international troop presence. ... It also ensures that at least one success story emerges from the Syria conflict and indeed one viable geo-strategic partner for the future." (28/01/2015)

Hürriyet Daily News - Turkey | 28/01/2015

Erdoğan going too far in fight against Gülen

During a state visit to Ethiopia last week Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called for schools run by the Gülen movement outside Turkey to be closed down. This is simply going too far, the liberal English-language Hürriyet Daily News comments: "The problem is that Erdoğan now sees the Gülen movement, which once was his best ally, as his worst enemy, and he tries to undermine it by all means necessary. That includes even attacking the very Gülen-inspired schools that Erdoğan himself used to praise only a few years ago. ... The legitimate place for the Gülen movement, or any other religious order, is civil society. Their members can exist in the bureaucracy as individuals, but not as a concerted, sectarian force. Therefore, the 'parallel state' needs to be disestablished, and its alleged wrongdoings should be brought to justice. ... But this must not allow the government to cover up its corruption. It also must not allow attacks on the legitimate, civil society aspect of the Gülen movement." (28/01/2015)

Club Z - Bulgaria | 27/01/2015

Bulgarian state hidden by mafia

The EU Commission will present its new progress report on Bulgaria today. The news portal Club Z already has a copy, and comments: "In it you can read the words 'Corruption remains a serious problem in Bulgaria'. According to Eurostat, 97 percent of the population share this opinion. And who are the other three percent? No doubt the corrupt themselves. ... 'There are few convictions in the big corruption cases', the report goes on. As usual, only the small fry are punished. 'The fight against corruption must be overseen by an authority with the necessary power and independence.' In other words: We don't trust any of your many anti-corruption authorities as far as we could throw them. The report uses bureaucratese to ask: Where is your state? It's completely hidden by the mafia. You're like a membership candidate. Why are you in the EU at all?" (27/01/2015)

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic | 28/01/2015

Syriza putting Merkel under pressure at home

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has reacted calmly to the outcome of the Greek elections but this demonstrative composure is just a front, the conservative daily Lidové noviny suspects: "Syriza's victory has changed a few things. The Germans quite rightly fear that a persistently defiant Alexis Tsipras will set an example for all those who aren't happy with Merkel's harsh course. ... Pumping more and more billions into other economies was never a popular measure with the German public. In the past politicians were able to ignore this; this attitude didn't affect the elections. But that has changed. And not just the election successes of the Eurosceptic Alternative for Germany party show this. Also phenomena like Pegida testify to growing alienation between the citizens and their elected representatives. Merkel must take this into account in adopting her stance regarding the new Greek prime minister." (28/01/2015)

Frankfurter Rundschau - Germany | 28/01/2015

EU must condemn alliance in Athens

Greece's new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of the left-wing Syriza alliance formed a government with the right-wing populist Independent Greeks party on Monday in record time. Unfortunately the EU states failed to react decisively, the left-liberal daily Frankfurter Rundschau complains: "That may be because some must first get over the shock of Tsipras's victory. But future dealings with his government won't just focus on the troika and the euro bailout policy. ... In March the prolongation [of EU sanctions against Russia] will be on the table for the first time, and Greece's vote is needed. And the EU also wants to discuss a reform of the asylum system this year. Tsipras's coalition partner has its own sights on migration. The participation of the right-wing could lead to Greece blocking European policy. So the country's debts aren't Europe's only problem." (28/01/2015)

Toronto Star - Canada | 26/01/2015

Global perspectives: Tsipras has a poor hand in poker with EU

The new Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras cannot really threaten his EU partners with a Grexit because a majority of Greeks reject this course, the Canadian daily Toronto Star comments: "The newly installed prime minister vowed to renegotiate the bailout and raise public spending. A similar populist backlash is building in Spain, Italy and elsewhere. Renegotiation, however, is easier promised than delivered, given Tsipras' weak hand. Roughly 75 per cent of Greeks want to stay in the eurozone, which deprives him of the biggest stick he has - the threat of a 'Grexit' or withdrawal - to force better terms. Within hours of being elected he told supporters he still hopes to get half the debt forgiven, but is prepared to negotiate whatever 'viable solution' he can reach. That doesn't sound like a bolt for the exit." (26/01/2015)


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