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La Libre Belgique - Belgium | 02/10/2015

Exodus to Europe: Jean-Yves Buron recommends solidarity as a remedy for fear

The argument that welcoming refugees will lead to neglecting the homeless is often heard in Belgium, Jean-Yves Buron of the charity Opération Thermos Liège observes in the liberal daily La Libre Belgique. But using the homeless to advance one's own views must stop, Buron demands, and recommends a remedy for xenophobia: "Solidarity is the antidote to the frustration that drives our consumer society. This frustration makes us permanently dissatisfied, it makes us envy those who have more than we do, and it makes us want all the things we can't afford. Furthermore, it only reinforces itself. Showing solidarity, by contrast, means fostering and enjoying human relationships and breaking the dynamic of frustration. Only by rubbing shoulders with strangers, be they homeless people or refugees, can we overcome the fears that are born of ignorance. These fears are propagated by political ideologies that aim to preserve a society that doesn't exist and never did. Because let's not forget: human history is above all the history of migrations." (02/10/2015)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - Germany | 02/10/2015

Jasper von Altenbockum explains Germany's moral burden

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Germany's reunification on October 3 Jasper von Altenbockum, domestic affairs editor at the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, analyses Germany's image abroad and the way the country sees itself: "Collisions have come and continue to come every time Germany is expected to show strong commitment and adopt a leading role in Europe, and then does so with great fervour. This remains the case 25 years after reunification and - as seems to be Germany's fate - it will stay that way for some time to come. It makes things even harder for Germany that within the country moral missions are frequently formulated that have their origins in Germany's past, but impede its political capacity to act. Nowhere is this clearer than in Germany's migration policy, which is sweeping away all state borders and can only be explained as a kind of atonement for the country's past. All the other European states are taking a very different approach, that of a stringently defined state that seems authoritarian and inhumane to the Germans, who are far more eager to be a moral nation than a state nation." (02/10/2015)

Le Monde - France | 29/09/2015

Guy Hermet on the prerequisites for democratic transition

The Western powers must face up to the fact that all talk of a 'democratic transition' in Syria along the lines of what happened in Spain or Portugal is fruitless, historian Guy Hermet counsels in the centre-left daily Le Monde: "All later attempts by the United States and then by France and Britain in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and in Syria not only failed to install stable governments but also made it more difficult to establish democracy in these countries. We've seen that using the expression 'democratic transition' is not enough to bring about such a process. Any more or less peaceful and orderly transition like those on the Iberian Peninsula requires a certain complicity between the defenders of liberty and the former authoritarian leaders so as to put in place a provisional regime that is acceptable to both parties. Such pragmatic tolerance is clearly unthinkable in the area in question." (29/09/2015)

Tribuna de Macau - China | 22/09/2015

Exodus to Europe: The continent need not fear Islam

The fears of many Europeans that the continent will be Islamised as a result of the current refugee crisis are unjustified and dangerous, writes the daily Tribuna de Macau, one of the last remaining Portuguese-language newspapers in Asia: "Has Europe recently become religious again? Christian? Or Catholic even? Europe is for the most part atheist, and in addition it's influenced by a wide range of secular philosophies. So in fact there's no reason for it to get all excited about one more dose of philosophical-religious ideas - there are so many of them already! The problem, however, is that Europe has always had a hard time with Islam - and vice versa. Europe hasn't been able to integrate the Muslim communities, and is now confronted with more radical Islamic groups in this task. The extreme right in Europe has lost no time reacting, and is waving the banner of new Christian crusades. ... In view of all this do we now have one foot in a dark past?" (22/09/2015)

El País - Spain | 25/09/2015

Exodus to Europe: Lluís Bassets on redefined borders

The refugee crisis has raised the historical and often theoretical question of what Europe really is once more, Lluís Bassets observes in his blog with the centre-left daily El País: "The question is being asked seriously this time, and not by legal theorists or political scientists but by non-Europeans like Syrians, Afghans and Eritreans, who are formulating it with their feet. They are getting their answers from the European countries that either take them in or reject them, and from the governments and institutions tasked with formulating a European asylum policy that defines borders, values and citizenships. … The Europe in which the right to asylum applies will shrink, as has already happened with the Eurozone, and it will shed a large part of its territorial definition: Ukraine and Turkey are much further away now. This refugee crisis faces us Europeans with the choice: a two-speed Europe or nothing; or in other words disintegration, the return of nationalisms and irrelevance." (25/09/2015)

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Russia - Russia | 18/09/2015

Exodus to Europe: Vitaly Portnikov fears the fear of the foreign

It is not the presence of foreigners that should worry Europeans in these times of the largest wave of migration since World War II, but the fact that this fear of foreigners exists at all, warns Ukrainian-Jewish journalist Vitaly Portnikov on the website of the Russian service of Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty: "I belong to the nation of refugees. For how many centuries did we wander from city to city and country to country on Europe's roads? … What they said about us is virtually the same as what is being said about the Arabs today. Our religion was strange, our traditions were uncivilised, our language was incomprehensible. … I am not afraid of refugees. I am afraid of those who seek the causes of disaster among foreigners rather than among themselves. … Compassion is one of the values that made the post-war continent, a world full of refugees, the Europe it is today. If we turn our backs on this value there will not only be no more Schengen. There will be no more Europe." (18/09/2015)

Financial Times - United Kingdom | 20/09/2015

European social democracy is nondescript, Wolfgang Münchau complains

If Europe's moderate left has failed to capitalise on the consequences of the 2008 financial crisis politically, it's because it had already stopped criticising neo-liberalist capitalism before the crisis, columnist Wolfgang Münchau writes in the liberal business paper Financial Times: "So why is the centre-left by and large not benefiting from the failures of their political opponents? The deep reason lies in its absorption of the policies of the centre-right, going back almost three decades: the acceptance of free trade agreements, the deregulation of everything, and (in the eurozone) of binding fiscal rules and the most extreme version of central bank independence on earth. They are all but indistinguishable from their opponents. ... The only Keynesian party in Germany today is Die Linke, which derives from the former communists of East Germany. In Italy and France, the Keynesians are on the extreme left and right." (20/09/2015)

Al Jazeera - Qatar | 20/09/2015

Exodus to Europe: Rana Dasgupta on Western Europe as an elite enclave

With the creation of the nation state and the borders this entails, Western Europe has managed to make migration from crisis regions more difficult and seal itself off from the misery in many parts of the world, writes columnist Rana Dasgupta on the website of the Qatari news broadcaster Al Jazeera: "Since the 1960s, movement has been progressively curtailed. The fantasy of contemporary globalisation as a time of unprecedented movement is convincing only in the enclaves of the world's elites, of which Western Europe is the largest. In much of the rest of the world, fences loom large, and free international movement is the stuff of historical recollection. ... The intensification of border controls, and the suppression of that fundamental human instinct - to move - completes the picture of what we can call our contemporary apartheid - in which affluent, peaceful, democratic nations exclude the rest of the world from their own advantage." (20/09/2015)

Le Figaro - France | 17/09/2015

No one is protecting France's companies, Eric Zemmour complains

France is powerless to prevent the takeover of its most successful firms by foreign companies, journalist and author Eric Zemmour criticises in the conservative daily Le Figaro: "Our leaders have plunged us into the great flood of globalisation with no more than a rubber duck for protection - while the others have snorkels and flippers. The Anglo Saxons have the pension funds which we refused in order to preserve our pensioners from the fears of the stock market. We've never had the regional banks of the Germans, nor the family structure of the Italians. All our competitors have practically inexhaustible resources. We have a single trump, a single weapon: the state. For better or for worse. We have frivolously followed the dictates of fashion and transformed it into a structure that is as obese as it is powerless; that has lost its legitimacy, its authority and its acumen. And we haven't found anything to replace it. Without a 'godfather', our big corporations have fallen prey to American, European, Chinese and other predators. What we're left with is the worst of liberalism and the worst of socialism." (17/09/2015)

Avvenire - Italy | 16/09/2015

Davide Rondoni decries the blindness of the West in Syria

The EU and US politicians have ignored or misinterpreted the worrying signals from Syria for years, complains poet Davide Rondoni in the Catholic daily Avvenire: "Now everyone is stunned by the crisis. But four years ago all you had to do was travel to the Festival of Poetry in Damascus, as I did, to see what would happen. All the artists at the event were extremely concerned. The first conflicts in the north of the country had begun. 'Assad is a dictator, but those who want to take his place are even worse,' the poets whispered. … The very same media and representatives and spokespersons of international institutions who are talking about an exodus and a state of emergency today were telling us about the 'Arab Spring' back then. … The real state of emergency is another. There must be an end to the hypocrisy, the deception, the false information and pseudo politics that are fooling people. A clear, unprejudiced take on global events is needed. If not only the poets but also the diplomats and politicians had had that perspective back then, how much less suffering and death would we be lamenting today." (16/09/2015)

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