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Delfi - Lithuania | 26/03/2015

Ramūnas Bogdanas on Putin's economic policy failure

March 26 marked the 15th anniversary of the start of Vladimir Putin's first term as Russian president. Journalist Ramūnas Bogdanas looks back in the liberal online portal Delfi: "The period right after Putin's election saw the start of the rise in oil prices, which brought Russia billions in additional income. While oil prices had stagnated at around 20 US dollars a barrel under Boris Yeltsin, they rose to around 140 dollars in the next ten years. ... In this way the Putin regime was able to buy itself tranquillity. The party paid for by oil revenues lasted almost 15 years. ... But at present the hangover is cutting in as a result of Putin's policies. The country's economy is rife with corruption and has been flagging for years, while the grand speeches about developing high technology and reducing dependence on raw material exports have not translated into deeds. ... Instead of trying to overcome stagnation with the help of foreign investments and on the global finance markets, Putin has got Ukraine by the throat, diverting the Russians' attention from the oncoming recession to the fight against an imaginary fascist enemy." (26/03/2015)

Blog EUROPP - United Kingdom | 25/03/2015

Luke March on the radical left's mobilisation problem

Why Europe's radical left is having a harder time capitalising on the consequences of the crisis than the radical right is the question political scientist Luke March's analyses on the London School of Economics' Blog EUROPP: "Gradual moderation [on the part of the radical left] to offer governing perspectives has often risked disappointing more radical supporters while failing to fully convince new voters and coalition partners that they mean business. ... At the same time the radical right often benefits more than the radical left, mainly because they are more ideologically flexible than the left and can appropriate left-wing arguments (defence of the welfare state, protection of workers) while the left often struggles to come up with a popular response to right-wing arguments. Repugnant though anti-immigration sentiment is, it can be electorally dynamic in a way that international solidarity is not." (25/03/2015)

Le Monde - France | 24/03/2015

Geoffroy de Lagasnerie on how not to fight terrorism

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Thursday presented a bill providing additional funds for fighting terrorism to the country's police and intelligence agencies. That's exactly the wrong move, philosopher and sociologist Geoffroy de Lagasnerie writes in the left-liberal daily Le Monde: "What we have here is a repressive conception of state action based on reacting to events by giving ever freer rein to the security forces. But how would it look if we responded to the terrorist threat with more social justice, more democracy and less violence? How would it look if we focussed state action on social structures and their transformation, that is to say the cause of the phenomena we seek to fight, and not their effect? These are the important questions that it is necessary to answer if we want to sketch out a different future. ... By taking the same steps as the United States, Manuel Valls has condemned us to repeating its mistakes rather than correcting real problems. In other words, to stagnating in the fear, danger and vulnerability that feed the cycle of violence." (24/03/2015)

Večernji List - Croatia | 24/03/2015

Jozo Pavković on the incomplete peace of Dayton

Twenty years ago the Dayton Accords ended the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. But the country was not built on stable foundations, Jozo Pavković criticises in the conservative daily Večernji List and calls for the renewal of the agreement: "This agreement brought an incomplete peace and a complicated state system that has put Bosnia in a straitjacket. The Dayton Accords included eleven annexes, the fourth of which is at the same time Bosnia's constitution. But the English original text of the agreement was never officially translated - meaning that the country's constitution wasn't either. Added to this is the alarming fact that the original has been lost in the meantime. … For this reason the American document must be replaced with a European one to lay the foundations for lasting peace. The Europeanisation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the country joining the EU should correct several of the Dayton Accords' mistakes. But just a few months after the initiative [by the foreign ministers of the UK and Germany in November 2014] started the resistance in Bosnia and Herzegovina shows that once again it is easier to create an idea than to put it into practice." (24/03/2015)

Slobodna Dalmacija - Croatia | 23/03/2015

Boris Dežulović on the loss of freedom with the TTIP

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will usher in a new era that strips Europeans of their freedom, writer Boris Dežulović laments in the liberal daily Slobodna Dalmacija: "Lobbyists will have us believe that it's in our best interests and will guarantee new jobs, more competitiveness and a higher standard of living. And there's no doubt that they'll also be able to come up with convincing explanations for why this trade document that will determine our future is considered top secret and not just published on the Internet for public discussion. ... This treaty will align the European standards of capitalism with those in the US, and in the process completely determine how we live our lives: what job we do, and where, what we eat and drink, what medicine we take and how much we pay for it. With this document the big multinational corporations will take definitive control of our lives. The risible, outdated concept of the sovereign state and individual self-determination will finally - and irrevocably - be no more than a romantic memory from the 20th century. All that will disappear along with - what was it we called that silly thing with electoral laws, elections and human rights? Oh yes: democracy." (23/03/2015)

The Guardian - United Kingdom | 22/03/2015

Steven Pinker on the distorted image of a world full of wars

The reporting on conflicts in places like Ukraine, Iraq and Syria is wrongly giving the impression that far more people are dying in crises and wars now than in the past, psychologist Steven Pinker writes in the left-liberal daily The Guardian: "Research institutes in Oslo and Uppsala compiled datasets of global battle deaths since 1946, and their plots showed an unmistakable downward trend. The per-capita death rate fell more than tenfold between the peak of the second world war and the Korean war, and then plunged an additional hundredfold by the mid-2000s. Even the recent uptick from the wars in Iraq and Syria has not brought the world anywhere near the death rates of the preceding decades. Other datasets show steep declines in genocides and other mass killings. ... As long as violence has not vanished altogether, there will always be enough explosions and gunfire to fill the news, while the vastly greater portion of the planet in which people live boringly peaceful lives is reporter-free and invisible." (22/03/2015)

El País - Spain | 20/03/2015

Olivia Muñoz-Rojas on Yanis Varoufakis's sexiness

If Greece's Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis was a woman the media wouldn't be hailing her as a new sex icon, sociologist Olivia Muñoz-Rojas writes in the left-liberal daily El País: "Varoufakis is not the only politician being described as sexy in the media lately. In fact to judge by the media there's an abundance of attractive men in European politics at the moment, especially in the south of the continent: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, and in Spain the secretary-general of the Spanish Socialist Worker's Party Pedro Sánchez are just a few examples. ... According to the theories put forward by Catherine Hakim [author of The Power of Erotic Capital], a change of generations is not the only explanation for this phenomenon. This raises other interesting questions about the distribution of erotic capital between men and women: is there a comparable number of women in significant roles in politics who stand out for their physical attractiveness? Is there a greater sense of restraint about describing them as sexy? In other words: what would the reaction to the headlines have been if Varoufakis was a woman?" (20/03/2015)

Phileleftheros - Cyprus | 18/03/2015

Xenia Tourki explains reasons for Iceland's rejection

Iceland officially withdrew its candidacy for EU membership last week. Columnist Xenia Tourki explains the reasons for this decision in the liberal daily Phileleftheros: "The European Union still hasn't overcome the crisis. Despite the positive indicators unemployment is high in many countries. Living standards have fallen and everything points to the insecurity over Greece in the Eurozone continuing for some time to come. Why should a country take the risk of becoming a member of a union so fraught with problems? ... The Icelanders' decision shows that the EU has lost its appeal among the people of Europe. The reason is simple: the EU has set aside the values and ideals it was built on. Decisions are taken behind closed doors through bureaucratic procedures. The people no longer count any more; figures take priority. The EU has trampled on its own values and this is why it has lost its charm." (18/03/2015)

El País - Spain | 16/03/2015

For Lluís Bassets the catastrophe in Syria due to failure in Libya

The international community's inability to bring peace to Syria is also a result of its failure in Libya, which cost it its credibility, Lluís Bassets maintains in his blog with the left-liberal daily El País: "The defeat in Syria is also a consequence of the disaster in Libya, where Nato bombarded Gadafi with the Security Council's backing to protect the civil population, but not to effect a change of regime. Libya is now divided by civil war, and the United Nation's principle of assuming the responsibility of protecting the civil population has been left in tatters and rendered useless for Syria and probably for all other cases too. In Syria a historical event has also occurred, born of the civil war, namely the emergence of the Islamic State, which wants to erase the border between Syria and Iraq and has surpassed al-Qaeda not just in cruelty, but also in dangerousness. Because its ominous caliphate aspires to become an Islamic empire and has set its sights on Europe." (16/03/2015)

El País - Spain | 11/03/2015

Fernando Reinares on Spain's response to the terror of 11 March 2004

On the 11th anniversary of the Madrid terrorist attacks of 11 March 2004 political analyst Fernando Reinares calls attention to Spanish society's ambivalent response to the tragedy in the left-liberal daily El País: "Contrary to the reaction of British society after the London attacks of 7 July 2005, those perpetrated on 11 March 2004 in Madrid profoundly divided the Spanish people. ... After March 11 the Spaniards tried to interpret the murderous attacks on the trains according to familiar patterns since they couldn't interpret them on the basis of what was unknown to them. What was familiar to them was Eta on the one hand and Iraq on the other. If March 11 divided us it's because the Spaniards as a society lack the necessary resilience to process and respond to large-scale terrorist attacks in any way that goes beyond crisis management." (11/03/2015)

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