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Le Monde - France | 24/08/2014

Gaïdz Minassian on the failure of the international community

The collapse of states in Northern Africa and the Middle East highlights the failure of the international community, journalist and political scientist Gaïdz Minassian writes in the left-liberal daily Le Monde: "If the world isn't able to end the lawlessness and the crazy spiral of chaos whose epicentre now lies in the ruins of Syria and Iraq, it will have to ask itself some serious questions. ... Because with the genocide in Mesopotamia, the world has reached a new all-time low. ... The major powers always wait for the unimaginable to happen before they react, although they could intervene when the first signs of a tyrant's reign of terror and killers appear. As long as the international community continues to act in this way, the dictators of this world have nothing to fear. It's hard to explain how on the one hand the major powers are capable of destroying the world with their nuclear arsenals, but on the other hand they are unable to correct the original flaws of the global system that lead to tragedies and genocide." (24/08/2014)

MediaPart - France | 21/08/2014

French intellectuals call on the world to be firm with Israel

A group of French intellectuals has published an appeal to the UN and the states of Europe to stop the killing in Gaza in the internet magazine Mediapart: "We cannot hold our tongues in view of the continued murderous war and the attacks on freedom of opinion. We demand that the United Nations threaten Israel with sanctions if it does not permanently withdraw its troops from Gaza, that it send in a protection force for the Palestinian people, and put an end to the ground, maritime and air blockade. The European Union must suspend its association agreement with Israel, and France must immediately end any form of military cooperation with Israel and impose a weapons embargo. ... Palestine must be recognised as a full UN member. ... We demand more resolve on the part of France's democratic media and public sphere to uphold international law and to show Israeli society that it is on a suicidal dead-end path, and that it must look reality in the face." (21/08/2014)

Ir - Latvia | 21/08/2014

Dainis Īvāns recalls the domino effect of the Baltic Chain

On 23 August 1989, the 50th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, over a million people joined hands to form a 600-km human chain stretching from Vilnius via Riga to Tallinn. Dainis Īvāns, former chairman of the Latvian Popular Front and an organiser of the protest, looks back on the event and its impact in the webmag Ir: "The human chain was the expression of direct democracy, a popular vote from the depths of the totalitarian jail in which so many people were trapped. … In Latvia it wasn't just Latvians standing hand in hand, but also Poles, Jews, Ukrainians, Crimean Tatars, Belarusians, Russians and Georgians who were living here. They all wanted to return to Europe as a free nation. … After the Baltic Chain came the fall of the Berlin Wall, and in Prague Václav Havel, who had just been released from prison, spoke to thousands who longed for their freedom. An insurrection broke out in Timişoara that soon spread across Romania and led to the fall of the dictator Ceaușescu. ... And the Ukrainians' current courageous struggle for freedom and integration in Europe can be seen as the continuation of the process set in motion by the Baltic Chain." (21/08/2014)

La Repubblica - Italy | 20/08/2014

Giovanni di Lorenzo demands real reforms in Italy

Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi must finally combat the crisis with real reforms, Giovanni di Lorenzo, editor-in-chief of the German weekly Die Zeit, urges in the left-liberal daily La Repubblica, arguing that there's no point always seeking to lay the blame elsewhere: "The Italian approach is seen as regrettable in the German chancellor's circles. Because now Renzi too is starting to adopt the rhetoric about an 'evil Europe' that doesn't let Italy do what's best for it. ... Berlin is all too familiar with this tone, and is wondering why other countries like Ireland, Spain and Greece are mastering the crisis with tough reforms but Italy can't. ... Now all the old prejudices [about Italy] are being revived. ... In Berlin they say that Italy is right to demand as much solidarity as possible from its EU partners - particularly Germany - but that it shouldn't yet again seek the cause of its problems elsewhere rather than at home." (20/08/2014)

Taraf - Turkey | 20/08/2014

Mücahit Bilici on Muslims' reservations about democracy

The Muslim world only has a difficult relationship with democracy because it has never tested how compatible this form of government is with its religion, the US sociologist Mücahit Bilici writes in the liberal daily Taraf: "If there is one form of government that really fits in Sharia and Islam, it is democracy. So how to explain the Muslims' critical or hesitant attitude to democracy? Muslims can only observe democracy as a form of government based on examples provided by non-Muslims, hence they fail to consider it independently of this foreign context. ...  This attitude of some Muslims to democracy is similar to the attitude of Islam to science a century ago. Back then it was based on the assumption that modern science runs contrary to Islam and alienates man from religion. That's why they believed it was necessary to separate Islam and the Muslim identity from modern education. ... It took a while for Muslims to learn that science is not an ideology in itself, but an instrument that can be used by different systems of values. Now we're seeing the same thing in the relationship between the Sharia and democracy." (20/08/2014)

Corriere della Sera - Italy | 19/08/2014

Antonio Armellini on Germany's leading role in Europe

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier's efforts to mediate in the conflict in Iraq are proof of Germany's enhanced role in foreign policy, Italian diplomat Antonio Armellini comments in the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera: "The times when Europe believed it could rely on a French head for its policies and a German arm for the economy are over: the protagonists have changed and the German-French consensus rests on the last vestiges of good will rather than facts. In the same way the dream of a European security policy around a French-British core has been shattered; at best this is nothing more than a bilateral axis. Until the lofty (and perhaps futuristic) goal of a united Europe is achieved the EU's foreign policy will only be effective when it is steered by the country that wields the most influence in the Union and is able to coordinate the different positions. And with Paris's permission, that country can only be Germany." (19/08/2014)

Boulevard Voltaire - France | 18/08/2014

Dominique Jamet on Putin's harmless dreams of a Greater Russia

Russia's President Vladimir Putin is not a dictator and Europe has no reason to ostracise him, journalist and author Dominique Jamet writes in the conservative webmag Boulevard Voltaire: "Putin is not Hitler. Where are the concentration camps and the genocide? Putin is also not Stalin or Brezhnev. Where is the gulag, one-party rule, the satellites, the executions with a shot in the back of the head and the attempts to infiltrate and subvert the 'free world'? Putin dreams of a Greater Russian Empire and bringing Ukraine and Belarus into Russia's sphere of influence through an economic union, if possible with closer institutional ties. These are two old and new countries whose history and culture are closely intertwined with those of his own. That's no secret. But it does not imply that like Hitler or Stalin he's ready to do something irreversible, bring chaos to the world, and make all humanity pay the price for insane ambitions. Every day that passes demonstrates the exact opposite. If Europe wants to maintain its position on the world stage, it must do it with Russia, and not in opposition to it." (18/08/2014)

Világgazdaság - Hungary | 13/08/2014

Jan-Werner Müller on Erdoğan as a skilled populist

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's clear victory in the Turkish presidential election last Sunday is the result of clever populist tactics, Jan-Werner Müller, a professor at Princeton University, writes. Erdoğan knows how to charm the voters, Müller explains in the business daily Világgazdaság: "Such figures start out attacking their opponents' corruption and accuse them of hijacking the state for a self-serving political establishment that excludes the interests of ordinary people. Yet, when in power, they end up behaving exactly the same, treating the state as their or their party's property. ... A populist is a politician who claims that he or she - and only he or she - truly represents the people, thus relegating all political opponents to the role of iniquitous pretenders. Behind this claim stands the further assumption that the people have one common will that genuinely aims at the common good, and that the people's authentic leader - such as Erdoğan, who campaigned under the slogan 'National Will, National Power' - can identify and implement it. Populists, then, are not only anti-elitist; they are necessarily anti-pluralist and hence anti-liberal. ... In the eyes of the populist, there cannot be anything like a legitimate opposition. Whoever is against the leader is automatically against the people." (13/08/2014)

Die Presse - Austria | 14/08/2014

Hannes Adomeit counsels Russia against Soviet-style isolationism

The confrontation with the West in the context of the Ukraine crisis is taking Russia back to a Soviet-style planned economy, political scientist Hannes Adomeit of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs contends in the liberal-conservative daily Die Presse: "Above all military cooperation between Western and Russian companies is likely to be out of the question in the foreseeable future. This also pertains to cooperation between Russia and Ukraine. As a result, the Kremlin will have to mobilise its own resources. For the clique around Putin, which has long been pushing for self-reliance and developing Russia's own industrial complex, the disengagement from foreign high technology comes as good news given that it promises them new windfalls. But whether the Russian weapons industry can meet the new challenges is another question altogether. ... Putin has consistently backed the idea that the arms industry can be the 'motor for modernising the entire economy'. If you consider the fate of the Soviet Union as a warning, the path of isolationism is a fatal wrong turn." (14/08/2014)

Le Figaro - France | 13/08/2014

Put Iraqi refugees in French villages, says Charles Aznavour

The hundreds of thousands of Iraqis fleeing the IS militias could be housed in France's deserted villages, suggests the Armenian-French chansonnier Charles Aznavour: "In the current situation Christians, Kurds, Yazidi, Muslims and Armenians have to flee their country as quickly as possible. … But where should they go? And why not to France? During recent tours and trips across France I have come across charming villages that are completely deserted. The people who lived there have left, so why should they not be replaced with people who need somewhere to live? Why should we not hand over these 'ghost villages' to the refugees? They would have to build them up again, breathe new life into them and farm the land which is certainly fertile. They would be able to live in peace and almost independently. There are builders and decorators among them, but also bakers, butchers, doctors, dentists and mechanics whose professionalism is commendable. I have no worries about their ability to integrate." (13/08/2014)

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