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La Stampa - Italy | 25/07/2014

For Cesare Marinette Paris must be active in Europe again

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble backed his French counterpart Michel Sapin at a meeting last week. He voiced his faith in the latter's budgetary policies despite the slow progress in reducing France's new debt. But where is the France that once played an active role in Europe, the deputy director of the liberal daily La Stampa, Cesare Marinetti asks: "There was once a country that created Europe. When its president [François Mitterand] took [Helmut Kohl] by the hand on the fields where, decades before, their fathers lay in trenches full of blood and mud, everyone knew that a new chapter in history had begun. This country seems but a ghost of its past today. France is insecure, divided, weakened, incapable of adopting its rightful role. But if it's true that Europe is no longer dependent on Paris, it's also true that it is impossible to create a Europe without France. ... But where is the France that Europe now needs?" (25/07/2014)

ETC - Sweden | 25/07/2014

Johan Ehrenberg on melting nations

The independence movements in Scotland, Catalonia and eastern Ukraine have triggered a debate about whether in future there will be more nation states than there have been up to now. However the founder and publisher of the left-wing daily ETC, Johan Ehrenberg, sees the nation and nationalism as outdated concepts: "We live in nations that have become less and less interesting through globalisation and technology. A functioning local economy is more important for inhabitants than the Reichbank's defence of the 'Swedish currency'. A global environmental movement is more important for our future than an inquiry by the [Swedish] energy authority. Because the nations are growing weaker, nationalism is naturally gaining new breeding grounds. But it doesn't stand a chance if the socialists stress the need for federalism and cooperation. It is passé. It ended long ago, even if we haven't yet noticed the movement under our feet: the nations are softening and melting away." (25/07/2014)

Eesti Ekspress - Estonia | 23/07/2014

Sergei Metlev sets hopes on Russians living abroad

Russians living outside Russia have a vital role to play in talking sense into the Russian government and population concerning the political situation in Ukraine, Russophone civil rights activist Sergei Metlev writes in the weekly paper Eesti Ekspress: "The millions of people who demonstrated for freedom on the streets of Moscow in 1991 have been swallowed up by the darkness of history. Surveys show that over 80 percent of Russians support the occupation of Crimea. But there is one glimmer of hope: the millions of Russophones who live in freedom around the world, or who are inwardly free, could impede the degeneration of the Russian state. It is particularly difficult to be Russian today. In the past years Putin has deceitfully maintained that Russia has been kneeling for too long, and that he wants to get it back on its feet. Instead his orders are simply burying the Soviet Union. ... The question is how the Russian communities around the world can maintain their spiritual and cultural bonds with Russia while seeking to become Europeans. That is: people who are aware and courageous enough to stand up for an open society." (23/07/2014)

Kathimerini - Greece | 23/07/2014

Panteilis Boukalas on the inequality of death in Ukraine and Gaza

Public discussion of the casualties in Ukraine and Gaza differs depending on the nationality of the deceased, columnist Pantelis Boukalas comments in the conservative daily Kathimerini: "Corpses are corpses. Whether they're Malaysian, Dutch, Palestinian or Israeli. ... However it seems that in international politics the dead in Ukraine and Gaza aren't dead in the same way. We differentiate between 'our' dead and 'their' dead. 'Their' death doesn't have the same significance or call for angry reactions on the part of the interest groups concerned. And it puts no onus on the powerful of the earth to seek a common reaction to it. They couldn't care less if their attitude is stringent - that is impartial - and their moral criteria applied consistently, or if these criteria change with the nationality of the victims. The others who mourn their dead have nothing in common with our nationalities or ethnic groups. ... And the real nightmare is that 'our' dead are used to play down the dead of the 'others'." (23/07/2014)

Contrepoints - France | 22/07/2014

For Jean-Baptiste Noé Europe is good for France

The fact that France is going through difficult times should not make people forget that the country owes its current level of prosperity to the EU, historian Jean-Baptiste Noé argues on the website "The EU forced France to introduce thoroughgoing structural reforms. As a result, our country has experienced rapid development over the past 30 years. It's France's own policies, not the EU's, that are to blame for our current economic difficulties. Brussels never ordered us to impose outrageously high taxes on businesses or people who work from home, to destroy our education system or to put up obstacles to entrepreneurial freedom. Without the EU, key reforms would most likely never have taken place. Let's have the courage to admit that, and to make it clear to the public that economic liberalisation has brought huge benefits. If we don't, we shouldn't be surprised to see the Front National - as the new 'social' party - doing so well in the polls." (22/07/2014)

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)

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