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Reflections

REFLECTIONS

El País - Spain | 18/07/2014

Thomas Cooley and Ramon Marimon warn of a lost generation

The crisis in Europe is like those Japan experienced at the start of the 1990s, Thomas Cooley and Ramon Marimon contend in the left-liberal daily El País. But while Japan bemoaned a "lost decade" Europe will bemoan a "lost generation", the two economists fear: "Productivity was already low before the crisis in certain parts of Europe, but it sank further and, with the exception of Germany, hasn't recovered. Unlike in Japan, in Europe's periphery it is above all jobs that have been lost. Moreover Europe doesn't seem to be investing enough in human capital to increase productivity. If we look at the most recent PISA results in the peripheral European countries, the 15-year-old pupils have poor results in maths and sciences, while without jobs or in part-time, temporary employment their older brothers and sisters aren't learning either. To sum up, the worst loss of the lost decade in Europe's periphery will be a lost generation. And this despite the fact that Europe's society, like Japan's, is ageing and must rely on the young generation to grow." (18/07/2014)

Der Standard - Austria | 17/07/2014

Florian Scheuba calls for blue helmets in Fifa headquarters

With Sepp Blatter in charge Fifa is a multi-criminal band that behaves like an occupying power, satirist Florian Scheuba complains after the World Cup in the left-liberal daily Standard. He proposes a UN mission aimed at putting an end to the football association's rule: "No doubt there are some decent people at Fifa who are held hostage by the corrupt elite. An untenable situation, to end which we should follow the example of Fifa itself. During the tournament it essentially establishes its own state territory within the host country in which the laws (on taxes, free trade, entering a country) cease to apply. It acts like an occupying power. Seen from this perspective the appropriate course of action would be to strip Fifa of its assets and have peacekeeping forces take over its headquarters in Zurich. The humanitarian character of such a mission would be beyond doubt, given that it should be seen as a liberation of hostages in the course which not just incorruptible Fifa employees are set free, but also football itself." (17/07/2014)

T24 - Turkey | 16/07/2014

Erdoğan as intolerant as the Kemalists for Mustafa Akyol

The AKP government's intolerance of those who do not share its views is reminiscent of the narrow-mindedness of Ataturk's followers who ruled Turkey for 90 years, columnist Mustafa Akyol writes in the liberal Internet paper T24: "The AKP liberated those who were excluded under Kemalism, but now it's starting to exclude others who don't share its own beliefs. The best example is Alevi culture. A life with alcohol and a modern, secular world view is pushing things to the limit for the AKP. [Prime Minister] Erdoğan risks becoming a leader who only accepts and fosters freedoms that don't bother him. Nevertheless he must carry out reforms in areas that don't fit in with his view of the world. One of these is accepting the Alevis' cemevis as houses of prayer. The AKP must grant the right to drink alcohol in public, to wear miniskirts and have tattoos and not to be at a disadvantage when applying for government jobs." (16/07/2014)

Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland | 14/07/2014

Marek Beylin on the Church's waning influence in Poland

The Polish Church has sharply criticised the dismissal of the head physician of a state-run hospital by the mayor of Warsaw. Such a conflict only shows how the clergy are losing influence in Polish society, historian Marek Beylin writes in the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza: "For years now the Church has been losing all the conflicts it's got itself into in trying to maintain its grip on power. Who can still remember how it protested against artificial insemination? Thousands of bans, explanations and commentaries by clergy members in the media didn't convince Poles that this form of insemination is unacceptable. ... It was the same thing with the Church's resistance to the European Council's Convention on preventing and combating violence against women. The government signed it, and it was only because of the Church's protests that many Poles realised how big the problem with violence is. ... And the hospital affair is another case in point. By defending the doctor's inhuman position, the Church is cementing its image as Grand Inquisitor. And reducing its influence in society all the more." (14/07/2014)

Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy | 08/07/2014

Kenneth Rogoff calls for debt relief for Europe's crisis states

Some form of debt relief for the crisis states of the EU will be inevitable, explains US economist Kenneth Rogoff in the liberal business daily Il Sole 24 Ore: "In general, neither pure austerity nor crude Keynesian stimulus can help countries escape high-debt traps. Throughout history, other measures, including debt rescheduling, inflation, and various forms of wealth taxation (such as financial repression), have typically played a significant role. It is hard to see how European countries can indefinitely avoid recourse to the full debt toolkit, especially to repair the fragile economies of the eurozone's periphery. The ECB's expansive 'whatever it takes' guarantee may indeed be enough to help finance greater short-term stimulus than is currently being allowed; but the ECB's guarantee will not solve long-run sustainability problems. Indeed, the ECB will soon have to confront the fact that structural reforms and fiscal austerity fall far short of being a complete solution to Europe's debt problems. ... It is high time for a conversation on debt relief for the entire eurozone periphery." (08/07/2014)

De Volkskrant - Netherlands | 07/07/2014

For René Cuperus the German-French friendship is not decisive

The European project is mistakenly based on the myth of the German-French friendship as the ultimate guarantee for peace, cultural historian René Cuperus warns in the left-liberal daily De Volkskrant: "The European unity in which everything revolves around the long-standing Franco-German enmity is the answer to the First World War - to Ypres and Verdun. But it is not an answer - or at most an inadequate one - to the Second World War. To Stanlingrad and Katyn. ... For enduring peace in Europe the post-war ties between Russia and Germany are far more important than those between the Germans and the French. The European Union is based on the lessons of the First World War but ignores the warnings of the Second World War. ... The Russian contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany still hasn't been properly acknowledged, even though it was the Russians who pushed their way forward to Berlin. ... The German-Russian friendship will be the decisive one for a peaceful future in Europe." (07/07/2014)

Dagens Nyheter - Sweden | 06/07/2014

Richard Swartz on fascism Russian style

Russian President Vladimir Putin has described the government in Kiev as 'fascists' but he should be careful with his name-calling because there are far more fascists in Russia than in Ukraine, writes Richard Schwartz in the liberal daily Dagens Nyheter: "They just don't call them that in Russia because the fascist stamp is reserved for the enemy who, by definition, is only to be found abroad and belongs to a nation other than Russia. ... Looking for the term National Socialism in Soviet-era documents is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Because that kind of terminology could have become embarrassing. ... Less dangerous terms like fascism or Hitlerism came in handy there. ... They have also outlived communism, because Russia - unlike Germany - has not faced up to its past. ... The past has therefore become a kind of storage cellar from which Putinism roots out terms, slogans and labels as it sees fit, without anyone really knowing what they mean. And that's because Russia skipped the big European lesson in history." (06/07/2014)

The Economist - United Kingdom | 03/07/2014

On the lost values of the Arabs

Religious extremism is just a symptom of the crises in the Middle East. The root of the problem is the lack of democracy, open markets and pluralism, argues the liberal business magazine The Economist: "Only the Arabs can reverse their civilisational decline, and right now there is little hope of that happening. The extremists offer none. The mantra of the monarchs and the military men is 'stability'. In a time of chaos, its appeal is understandable, but repression and stagnation are not the solution. They did not work before; indeed they were at the root of the problem. Even if the Arab awakening is over for the moment, the powerful forces that gave rise to it are still present. The social media which stirred up a revolution in attitudes cannot be uninvented. The men in their palaces and their Western backers need to understand that stability requires reform. ... Pluralism, education, open markets: these were once Arab values and they could be so again." (03/07/2014)


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