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Reflections

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REFLECTIONS

Sme - Slovakia | 31/07/2015

Matúš Krčmárik criticises verbal dehumanisation of refugees

The debate over the refugees in the Channel Tunnel is now marked by a dangerous choice of words, warns Matúš Krčmárik in the liberal daily Sme: "This dehumanisation is a step towards the 'final solution'. The Nazis caricatured the Jews, the Hutus called the Tutsis cockroaches. The genocide that followed began with words. … The fear of black people attacking 'decent Europeans' in the night is deeply rooted in many people's minds. When those 'decent Europeans' then see the pictures from Calais the question they naturally ask themselves is: 'Do we really want these people in our country?' … Those people are not clambering onto lorries out of summertime boredom. Of course there will be a few criminals among the refugees. But it is absurd to claim that tens of thousands of people are coming to Europe to rape the local women or burn down the churches. It is not nameless hordes who are jumping onto lorries, but people with a specific fate." (31/07/2015)

Protagon - Greece | 28/07/2015

Greek crisis: Nikos Dimou on anti-EU sentiment among Greeks

The critical attitude towards the EU prevalent in the government and among large swaths of the population will only hurt Greece in the long term, fears writer Nikos Dimou on the liberal website Protagon: "Europe is certainly no paradise, but it's the best thing we have right now. … Do you know another place on the planet that better respects the dignity of its citizens, which is more peaceful, more civilised and more progressive? Would you prefer Africa, South America or the Far East? I fear that the anti-European venom which is currently coursing through the veins of most of the Greeks will do us more damage than our debts or the deficit. We have always had a problem with our identity: is it Balkan, Oriental or European? Now we have talked up this problem so much that we are in danger of becoming a national non-entity. No one - not even the world's greatest superpower - is autonomous. Every person works within the framework of traditions, a cultural environment and rules. If we reject Europe, where do we belong?" (28/07/2015)

Diário Económico - Portugal | 27/07/2015

Greek crisis: Germany's euro exit would save EU, writes Pedro Braz Teixeira

Instead of discussing the Grexit, Europe should start thinking about the euro exit of another country, and how to start dismantling the common currency, advises economist Pedro Braz Teixeira in the liberal business daily Diário Económico: "Now that Greece's exist from the euro has become part of the official discourse, it makes sense to mention an alternative which for years has been seen as the best way to start dismantling the euro: Germany's exit. … This could be regarded as a political initiative that admits that the euro was a well-intentioned project but that, in view of its weak results, would be better off being scrapped. While a Grexit would be viewed as a failure of the EU project, a German exit could mean an end to the most serious source of problems within the EU since its foundation: the common currency. This would mean the real aim of the EU could be reinstated: namely peace." (27/07/2015)

Handelsblatt - Germany | 20/07/2015

Greek crisis: Germans would be suddenly richer after euro exit, explains Ashoka Mody

US economist Ashoka Mody calls for Germany to leave the Eurozone in a guest contribution to the liberal business daily Handelsblatt: "If Germany were to leave the Eurozone the value of the euro would fall. Countries in Europe's periphery that are struggling to survive would get a boost in competitiveness. … If however Greece were to go - followed by Portugal and Italy in the coming years - each new currency the countries introduced would fall dramatically in value. Loans in euros would become unpayable, debts would soar. And although these countries with their weaker currencies would eventually become more competitive, it would only be prolonging the agony. By contrast the negative effects of a German exit would be easier to contain. The deutschmark would be worth more than the euro. The mark could then buy more goods and services than is the case with the euro today. Germans would become richer all of a sudden. Germany's assets would of course lose value abroad due to the more expensive mark, but German debt would be easier to pay off." (20/07/2015)

Gulf Times - Qatar | 26/07/2015

Greek crisis: Germany is Europe's problem, says Philippe Legrain

Germany is casting itself as guardian of the law and applying double standards in the Greek crisis, censures the economist Philippe Legrain in the Qatari daily Gulf Times: "As long as German Chancellor Angela Merkel's administration continues to abuse its dominant position as creditor-in-chief to advance its narrow interests, the eurozone cannot thrive - and may not survive. Germany's immense current-account surplus - the excess savings generated by suppressing wages to subsidize exports - has been both a cause of the eurozone crisis and an obstacle to resolving it. In fact, Germany breaks rules with impunity, changes them to suit its needs, or even invents them at will. Indeed, even as it pushes others to reform, Germany has ignored the Commission's recommendations. As a condition of the new eurozone loan program, Germany is forcing Greece to raise its pension age - while it lowers its own. It is insisting that Greek shops open on Sundays, even though German ones do not. Corporatism, it seems, is to be stamped out elsewhere, but protected at home." (26/07/2015)

Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy | 26/07/2015

Greek crisis: For Dominique Strauss-Kahn Southern Europe is vital for the North

In an open letter published in the liberal business daily Il Sole 24 Ore, former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn urges the Germans not to abandon Southern Europe: "It is to those that I now speak; to my German friends who believe in the Europe that together we once wanted; those who believe that a European culture exists. ... Forged in this peculiar alloy, a blend of individualism and egalitarian universalism. ... We are the custodians of that culture. ... Don't tell me you expect to save Europe simply by imposing rules of sound management. ... Falling back on the North will never suffice to save you. Like all Europeans, you need the whole of Europe to survive, divided we are too small. ... To survive among the giants, Europe will have to bring together all the territories contained between the ice caps of the North, the snows of the Urals and the sands of the South. ... Amidst all our internal conflicts, we are looking only to the North and we are forgetting the South. Yet it is the cradle of our culture. It's what will bring Old Europe new blood in the form of the young generations." (26/07/2015)

La Razón - Bolivia | 24/07/2015

Greek crisis: Germany must leave the euro, demands Rolando Morales Anaya

Germany should be excluded from the Eurozone because of its excessive power, economist Rolando Morales Anaya argues in the Bolivian liberal business daily La Razón: "After two cruel wars initiated by Germany this country is once again succumbing to the temptation to become some sort of global ruler, starting with Europe. This time it won't use arms because the economy offers more accessible instruments. Angela Merkel took the liberty of bringing down two European governments, that of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero in Spain and that of Silvio Berlusconi in Italy. She treats France's ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy and its current leader François Hollande like sons. Now she is intent on toppling Alexis Tsipras's government, not just because it has rebelled against her dictates but also to set an example and sow fear in Spain in view of a potential victory for the opposition group Podemos in the elections." (24/07/2015)

The New York Times - U.S. | 22/07/2015

Greek crisis: Paul Krugman defends his euro criticism

Economist Paul Krugman defends his critical stance on the euro in the blog of US daily The New York Times: "One argument I keep seeing is that economist critics like myself don't understand that the euro was a political and strategic project, not merely a matter of economic costs and benefits. Yes, I'm a dumb uncouth economist, completely unaware of the role of politics and international strategy in policy decisions who never heard of the European project and its origins in the effort to put Europe's legacy of war behind it. ... Well, actually I do know all about that. The point, however, is that the project can't be expected to work unless the economic measures are a good idea in and of themselves, or at least a non-catastrophic idea. What happened in the march to the euro was that European elites, in love with the symbolism of a single currency, closed their minds to warnings that currency union - unlike the removal of trade barriers - was at best ambiguous in its economic logic, and arguably, even ex ante, a very bad idea indeed." (22/07/2015)

Corriere della Sera - Italy | 22/07/2015

Greek crisis: For Federico Fubini Athens is a plaything for apologists

For some time now the crisis in Greece has served only as a symbol used by politicians and intellectuals to strengthen their own arguments, comments economist Federico Fubini in the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera: "Nobel laureates like Joseph Stiglitz or Paul Krugman persist with their predictions that the agreement won't hold and that the euro will collapse. … They use good arguments, but they present them with such insistence that one suspects a certain impatience behind them. Because if things do go really wrong this would serve as confirmation that they were right with their neo-Keynesian theories against cutting spending. … This is true not just for Stiglitz and Krugman, but also for the politicians of anti-system parties like Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias in Spain or Beppe Grillo in Italy. … For a long time now Greece and its drama have served as a symbol for others. The concerns about eleven million Greeks play a secondary role." (22/07/2015)

The Irish Times - Ireland | 21/07/2015

Greek crisis: For Fintan O'Toole there is no Eurozone crisis

The euro crisis is dividing Europe because the individual countries' experience of it varies greatly, columnist Fintan O'Toole comments in the centre-left daily The Irish Times: "There is no euro zone crisis. It's impossible to understand what's going on now if you start out with the assumption that there is a single community of nations experiencing the same historic moment. There isn't. If, for example, Germany seems detached from the sufferings of the more peripheral euro-zone countries, it's not because Germans are hard-hearted. It's because their own current experience is not of crisis but of bonanza. The euro may look like a disastrous project for Ireland or Greece but in Germany it's an enormous success. The euro's weakness has been a jackpot for Germany. It has made German exports, especially to China and the US, much cheaper than they would have been otherwise. ... The result is that we have one part of the euro zone all too aware that it is living at a moment of historic crisis and another - the one that calls the shots - floating along on a sea of amnesia. And this is deeply dangerous for the European Union." (21/07/2015)


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