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REFLECTIONS

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - Germany | 23/10/2014

High time for Europe to stand by Ukraine, George Soros demands

Europe must finally take a more resolute stance in the Ukraine conflict, urges US investor George Soros in a commentary piece in the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, shortly before Ukraine's parliamentary elections take place: "The new Ukraine has the political will both to defend Europe against Russian aggression and to engage in radical structural reforms. To preserve and reinforce that will, Ukraine needs to receive adequate assistance from its supporters. ... It is high time for the members of the European Union to wake up and behave as countries indirectly at war. ... It is also high time for the European Union to take a critical look at itself. There must be something wrong with the EU if Putin's Russia can be so successful even in the short term. ... And Europeans themselves need to take a close look at the new Ukraine. That could help them recapture the original spirit that led to the creation of the European Union. The European Union would save itself by saving Ukraine." (23/10/2014)

The Daily Telegraph - United Kingdom | 14/10/2014

Philip Johnston on the Brits' identity crisis

The rise of the populist Ukip party, which last week won its first elected seat in the House of Commons, and of the Scottish National Party (SNP) reveal a crisis of identity in British society, columnist Philip Johnston writes in the conservative Daily Telegraph: "The question 'who are we?' has been hanging over British politics since the end of the Second World War hastened the unravelling of Empire. ... Even though the country is infinitely wealthier than it was half a century ago, there remains a strong sense of a nation adrift. The rise of Ukip - and of the SNP, for that matter - is a manifestation of this. So, too, is our uncertain response to international events, such as the conflict in the Middle East. After all, knowing who we are is concomitant to understanding instinctively what is the right thing to do. And many wonder if we are still capable of working that out. ... We have no long-term vision because we are not sure where we want to go and our politicians have put off asking the question for far too long." (14/10/2014)

15min - Lithuania | 14/10/2014

No Russian culture without Europe for Yulia Latynina

In recent times Kremlin ideologists and TV presenters frequently present an image of European vacuity and contrast it with Russian culture, the Russian author and journalist Yulia Latynina observes. Yet Russia's culture would be nothing without Europe, she explains in an article in the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reprinted by the portal 15min: "What is this unique 'Russian culture'? Without doubt a Russian culture exists that has given the world great musicians, poets and authors. But the problem is that they only became so great when Russia became part of Europe. Tchaikovsky's music didn't evolve from popular balalaikas. Pushkin grew up in the Imperial Lyceum, not with his grandmother's fairy tales. ... Russia's culture only became great once its science, literature, music and art became part of Western culture. And what's more, if Peter the Great hadn't made Russia part of Europe we would never have had a Tolstoy or a Dostoyevsky. ... And nor would the Russian Empire which our patriots cherish so dearly exist." (14/10/2014)

Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland | 13/10/2014

Harold James observes an economic disputation

The conflict over whether a new crisis can best be prevented with stimulus programmes as in France and the US or with austerity programmes as in Germany increasingly resembles a disputation from the Middle Ages, US history professor Harold James writes in the daily Tages-Anzeiger: "Central banks have begun to resemble medieval philosophical faculties, with discussions addressing the issues underlying policy decisions, rather than just the policies themselves. In the ECB, for example, a debate is underway to determine under which conditions deviation from fiscal orthodoxy might be stabilizing in the long term. How that debate is resolved could lead to a new kind of international cooperation. ... But central banks' new role as supreme arbiters of policy truth is fraught with hazard. Given that the solutions that emerge from their disputations and analyses will be the product of technocratic - not democratic - processes, they are likely to trigger populist backlashes." (13/10/2014)

Le Temps - Switzerland | 09/10/2014

For Sylvain Besson fighting the jihad means inventing new narratives

Western societies must come up with a new narrative for their culture if they want to prevent more young people from being tempted by the jihad, Sylvain Besson writes in the liberal daily Le Temps: "The mythology of the jihad questions the spiritual vacuum of our societies based on efficiency and materialism. It seduces some of those who cannot accept a world without God, one where life has no other goal than satisfying fleeting material desires. ... The idea is neither to excuse nor to play down the crimes of the Islamic State and its partisans, but to understand and to arm ourselves against it. Because to discourage those attracted by the jihad, it will be necessary to reinvent a convincing narrative about our own civilisation. Just talking about liberty and prosperity won't be enough. Reaching out to the terrorists' target audience - young people seeking an existential commitment - means discussing ideas that have lost their hold on us, such as God, death, and sacrifice. And, in so doing, rediscovering our societies' convictions regarding more noble values than technology, amusement and material comfort." (09/10/2014)

Sme - Slovakia | 07/10/2014

Putin strongarm tactics only hurting Russia, Peter Morvay argues

Russia is using the threat of cutting off gas supplies to the West over the Ukraine conflict. If he continues on this course Russian President Vladimir Putin will deprive his country of any chance of a future, columnist Peter Morvay concludes in the liberal daily Sme: "Russia is losing investments, technologies and trust. And if Putin starts using Gazprom and the gas supplies as an instrument of political pressure against Europe, the country will also lose revenues and its reputation as a reliable trade partner. Without Western help the country has no chance of modernising its state and economy. It won't be able to become less dependent on exports of raw materials. The West's help is irreplaceable. For example the gas that flows to Europe today can't flow in the same way to China. The pipelines are lacking and China is not willing to pay as much. ... So Putin's policy is leading Russia into isolation, backwardness and even greater corruption. Putin's interests are very different from those of Russia. Putin wants to consolidate his power. He doesn't care what the situation will be ten years from now." (07/10/2014)

Die Welt - Germany | 07/10/2014

Jacques Schuster bemoans lack of counter-ideology to jihadism

The fact that the conflict with Islamism is still seen as a political confrontation annoys Jacques Schuster, chief commentator of the conservative daily Die Welt. He notes that the fall of the Iron Curtain was the result of "the idea that shone into the dark from the light. Strange that in the fight against jihadism and the Islamist campaign to rule the world, hardly anyone points this out. One of the reasons for this is that in this age of political correctness and the tendency to tread lightly, few in the West have the courage to equate Islamism with the totalitarian ideas of the 20th century. Yet countless words and deeds prove that this is where it belongs. ... And to be clear here: fascism, communism and Islamism have much in common. ... It is time to translate novels and bring them into those states - be it in book form or via the Internet - where youths hungry to learn but lacking in hope search for ideas and find nothing but the intellectual vapours of Islamism." (07/10/2014)

El Periódico de Catalunya - Spain | 02/10/2014

Josep Oliver Alonso on the broken dream of a mutually supportive Europe

The EU as a mutually supportive community? This idea was nothing but a dream from which Spain has now been rudely awakened, economist Josep Oliver Alonso comments in the left-liberal daily El Periódico de Catalunya: "The crisis has woken us from a long and deep sleep, from a sweet illusion about the true nature of the EU. It has been a rude awakening and left us with a terrible feeling of loneliness. ... The myth of a united and mutually supportive Europe is deeply embedded in our collective consciousness. Both the democratic boost and the financial aid Spain received from the EU in recent decades contributed to this myth. But as the gap between what we asked for and what we received [during the crisis] demonstrates, this idea was always an illusion. This Europe of powerful states continues to be, to our detriment, an amalgamation of strategic interests, social models, cultural ideas and disparate economic strengths and weaknesses. ... The long recession has shown us that although we are not alone and receive important support, in the end we must rely on our own abilities to confront the enormous challenges we face." (02/10/2014)

New Statesman - United Kingdom | 01/10/2014

John Denham says religion alone doesn't turn people into terrorists

According to EU Counter-terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove roughly 3,000 Europeans have joined the IS terror group in Iraq and Syria. But what attracts young Muslims to this cause has less to do with religion than with other factors, British Labour MP John Denham writes in the left-leaning magazine New Statesman: "Radical movements have their intellectuals, so of course there are times and places when winning the ideological argument is crucial. But young people are rarely radicalised by ideas alone. It's the emotional and social connections, the sense of meaning and purpose that attract. Too many young Muslims share that sense of alienation, voicelessness and injustice. Feelings of rejection, stereotyping, powerlessness and double standards are commonplace This does not make them terrorists. It makes them vulnerable... The drive to blame theology has left more important concerns unaddressed." (01/10/2014)

Blog Vlemma - Greece | 26/09/2014

Nikos Xydakis on Greece's humiliation in the crisis

The Greek ambassador to Berlin, Panagiotis Zografos, last week tendered his resignation because according to Greek media he wasn't invited to the meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Greek counterpart Antonis Samaras. In his blog Vlemma, columnist Nikos Xydakis draws a comparison between the ambassador's humiliation and that of Greece: "If we assume that the state doesn't respect the ambassador it itself appointed, how are others supposed to respect this state? ... What we are experiencing now in Greece moves us to reflect on many things: on the condition of the state institutions, the self-respect of the elected representatives of the people and their advisers, the respect for government officials, the respect for rules and protocol and the resulting right to expect international partners to respect the Greek citizens and the state in the same way. ... The crisis inevitably leads to instability, insecurity, shock. A calm approach, political courage and self-respect are needed more than ever now. But we are seeing the opposite: the lack of democratic discipline is manifest in the disdain for the institutional framework." (26/09/2014)


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