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Reflections

REFLECTIONS

Libération - France | 20/04/2015

Thomas Piketty finds debt pressure in Eurozone absurd

Rather than forcing Greece to service debts it can't pay the Euro Group should finally start seeing itself as a single entity, economist Thomas Piketty urges in the left-liberal daily Libération: "The most absurd thing about all this is that in 2015 Europe's debts are above all internal. ... True, the member states own an unprecedented amount of each other's bonds: savers at French banks own part of the German and Italian debt, German and Italian banks own much of the French debt, and so on. But if we view the Eurozone as a whole, we own ourselves. Moreover, we own more financial assets outside the Eurozone than countries outside the Eurozone own of ours. Rather than repaying our debts to each other for decades to come, all we need to do is organise the system in a different way." (20/04/2015)

La Repubblica - Italy | 21/04/2015

Timothy Garton Ash believes in a different Russia

Russia will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II on May 9. In reaction to Russia's role in the war in eastern Ukraine many EU leaders have declined to attend the celebrations. British historian Timothy Garton Ash explains in the left-liberal daily La Repubblica why a different Russia is still possible despite all the problems: "The new Russia will certainly not arrive this 9 May, when Vladimir Putin's Kremlin celebrates the 70th anniversary of the end of what Russians call the Great Patriotic War. It may not emerge until 9 May 2025, or even 2045, but we should never abandon hope for that other Russia, and we must keep faith with the Russians who are working for it. There is another Russia. It is represented by the murdered opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, and the people who come to lay flowers on the bridge where he was assassinated, which they already call Nemtsov bridge. While some must have been frightened by that murder, and the atmosphere of intimidation, a brave few have redoubled their defiance." (21/04/2015)

Club Z - Bulgaria | 11/04/2015

Daniel Smilov urges Bulgarians to stop moaning

The Bulgarians' extremely pessimistic view of their country's future won't help them make it any better, political scientist Daniel Smilov writes in the news portal Club Z: "Bulgarians have what it takes for substantial economic and social progress. The macroeconomic framework is there. What stops us is corruption, the frail party system, insufficient openness to foreign markets, a weak state and judiciary and our cultural and linguistic isolation from Europe and the rest of the world. ... Certainly, these problems have accumulated over the years and can't be solved overnight. But they're not so serious that we have to drag them around with us forever. Look at Romania, for example, which is well on the way to doing away with corruption. Or Greece, which despite all its current difficulties is a paradigm for European openness and EU integration. ... Bulgaria's way forward is clear: we must observe how other countries facing similar difficulties go about tackling them. ... And all the moaning definitely has to stop." (11/04/2015)

Contributors.ro - Romania | 12/04/2015

Vladimir Tismaneanu on forgetfulness of the Armenians' holocaust

Pope Francis described the killing of 1.5 million Armenians in the First World War as "genocide" in Rome on Sunday, drawing harsh criticism from Turkey. The pope's speech was courageous, historian Vladimir Tismaneanu writes on the Romanian blog portal Contributors: "The massacre of 1.5 million Armenians 100 years ago was the first experience of a genocide. ... It was a holocaust of the Armenians. It wasn't a spontaneous outburst of hatred but a precisely planned attack and a systematic destruction of so-called sub-humans or non-humans. Killing an Armenian, like the Jews, Kulaks, Bosniaks were killed later on, was like exterminating an insect. For Hitler the massacre of the Armenians (the term 'genocide' didn't exist back then) was proof that mankind is quick to forget. Totalitarianism relies on opportunism, cowardliness, and amnesia. Hitler once said to his accomplices when he was explaining the 'need' to exterminate Europe's Jews: 'Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?' ... It's commendable of Pope Francis to call on mankind not to forget this evil." (12/04/2015)

La Repubblica - Italy | 10/04/2015

Ukraine must de-corrupt and de-oligarchise, Timothy Garton Ash believes

Ukraine must fight the ills of corruption and the oligarchy to free itself from Moscow's grip, historian Timothy Garton Ash writes in the left-liberal daily La Repubblica: "In Berlin, Washington or Brussels we say 'Ukraine', but within 30 seconds we are talking about Putin, Nato and the EU. So let us consider, for once, the struggle for Ukraine, by Ukrainians, inside the majority of its territory still actually controlled by Ukraine. Even if there were no war, this would be a daunting task, for there is a breathtaking scale of corruption and oligarchic misrule, which has deformed the state ever since it gained formal independence nearly a quarter of a century ago. ... We must understand that Putin is unlikely to be content with just a 'frozen conflict' in eastern Ukraine. ... He wants a simmering conflict, one that ensures the whole of Ukraine remains a weak, unstable, dysfunctional state. Our job, as Europeans, is to prevent him achieving that objective. Yet at best, we can only create the conditions in which the Ukrainians themselves may seize the opportunity created by this crisis, and build a new Ukraine." (10/04/2015)

El País - Spain | 02/04/2015

Antonio Navalón on Obama at a crossroads in Mid East policy

The US can't continue its ambiguous stance regarding Iran and Saudi Arabia and will sooner or later have to take sides with one or the other, the historian Antonio Navalón predicts in the left-liberal daily El País: "The US policy seems contradictory, backing Syria and Iran in the morning only to fight Iran to defend Saudi Arabia at night. The Arab world and Islam would never have ended up in this extreme situation without the US's involvement, or in other words Afghanistan and the 9/11 attacks, but now the only way out of this situation is for Barack Obama to take a clear decision and resolve the many contradictions in his policy. Either he decides in favour of a historical agreement with Iran and thus effectively puts it in control of the entire Persian Gulf and the Middle East, or he helps Saudi Arabia against the Shiites and finds a way to change the monarchies and regimes that can no longer survive on their own, as the Arab Spring demonstrated." (02/04/2015)

La Libre Belgique - Belgium | 01/04/2015

Drieu Godefridi on the failure of Keynesianism

Economic growth has taken an upward turn in a number of EU countries after they implemented stricter austerity policies, philosopher and author Drieu Godefridi observes in the liberal daily La Libre Belgique. Only the Greek government still believes in the benefits of Keynesianism, he comments: "Germany, the incarnation of austerity which achieves a budget surplus year after year, is still growing apace. ... Even Spain and Portugal, initially in situations similar to that in Greece, are once more getting back on their feet after five years of anti-Keynesian, pro-cyclical austerity policy. To say nothing of Ireland, which is now providing the best example of how to reinvent its economic miracle through cuts. Greece, under the Tsipras/Varoufakis tandem, is the only country to hold firmly to the Keynesian dogma of overcoming crises through public spending. Failing an unexpected turnaround on the part of these two clowns, we may soon see just how successful this policy of pure Keynesianism is. We're now witnessing the biggest historical defeat of Keynesian thought." (01/04/2015)

Jutarnji List - Croatia | 31/03/2015

For Miljenko Jergović Germanwings pilot is a product of capitalism

It is not at all surprising that the Germanwings pilot apparently took the lives of 149 people besides his own by deliberately crashed the plane, social critic Miljenko Jergović writes in the liberal daily Jutarnji List: "Andreas Lubitz behaved entirely in keeping with the moral and ideological values of liberal-capitalist society. Without any understanding of human solidarity and people's duty to help each other and enable each other to lead a dignified life, Lubnitz heeded only his own needs and killed himself. Does it sound exaggerated to say that bankers behave in a similar way towards their clients? Yes? Well good, because all we wanted to say was that Andreas Lubitz is a typical product of his times. If he had been brought up in a different era or in a different socio-political and economic system he wouldn't have taken all those people with him, no matter how sick or crazy he was. He would have landed the plane, poured kerosene all over himself and set himself on fire on the runway. We can be as shocked as we like, but in a society without human solidarity his crime isn't anything out of the ordinary." (31/03/2015)


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