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Corriere della Sera - Italy | 27/11/2014

Bernard-Henri Lévy says recognising Palestine is the wrong approach

The French parliament is due to vote on the recognition of Palestine next week. But this unilateral step would lead to a dead end, philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy writes in the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera: "No honest observer can ignore the fact that both sides have a long way to go. No advocate of peace denies that between the governments in Jerusalem, which, from Rabin to Netanyahu, have never renounced the settlements policy, and a Palestinian leadership that has oscillated between accepting Israel as a fact and rejecting any Jewish presence on Arab land, there is blame enough to go around. But that is precisely what the proponents of unilateral recognition deny. It is very precisely what they forget when they go around saying 'we can't take anymore of this' and 'it is urgent that things move forward,' or that a 'strong gesture' is needed in order to 'apply pressure' and 'unblock the situation,' and that no better 'strong gesture' can be found than to impose on Netanyahu a non-negotiated Palestinian state. And that points to the last critique to be laid against them: their reasoning presupposes that there is only one blockage (the Israeli one) and only one party that needs to be pressured (Israel), and that nothing needs to come from the Palestinian camp." (27/11/2014)

Newsweek Polska - Poland | 25/11/2014

Tomasz Lis on a sloppy Polish state

The vote-counting fiasco in Poland's local elections is a further example of the sloppy mentality of the Polish state, writes Tomasz Lis in Newsweek Polska: "Naturally it's embarrassing for a state when it's unable to tell the people who they voted for. But this state already permitted the Smolensk disaster. And it didn't warn the nation about dubious banks. At the beginning of each year some major crisis occurs. So yet another scenario of chaos and irresponsibility shouldn't come as any surprise. The election debacle is just another event caused by the attitude that 'Somehow things will work out'. And the state always opts for the cheapest approach. ... This is simply the reflection of a sloppy state." (25/11/2014)

Infowar - Greece | 20/11/2014

Aris Chatzistefanou on the EU's tolerance of the far right

Giorgos Karatzaferis, chairman of the far-right party Laikós Orthódoxos Synagermós (Laos) and coalition partner of the former government under Lucas Papademos, must soon answer charges of accepting bribes and other irregularities in court, it was announced on Wednesday. Columnist Aris Chatzistefanou takes the opportunity to examine why the EU is willing to tolerate the far right on web portal Infowar: "As in Ukraine, where Brussels brought the nationalist Svoboda to power with the help of local oligarchs, the troika and the banks have also pushed through the participation of Karatzaferis in the coalition government in Greece. ... To enforce its austerity policy the EU needed an elected prime minister supported by a broad coalition that also included the far-right and junta-friendly party. ... That was the moment when far right and junta-friendly elements of Laos like Adonis Georgiadis and Makis Voridis [today health minister] were allowed to join forces with the governing Nea Demokratia." (20/11/2014) - France | 18/11/2014

Paul Alliès demands less power for French president

In view of French President François Hollande's disastrous mid-term performance, law professor Paul Alliès calls for the powers of the president to be curtailed in his blog for the webmag Mediapart: "France's semi-presidential system is exceptional in Europe, where all the other member states have variations on the parliamentary regime in which the head of government is chosen by a majority of members of parliament, relegating the head of state to essentially representative tasks. The French directly elect their president, who exercises considerable political power. The straight jacket of the presidency prevents France from setting up a large, stable coalition of the kind now in power in most European countries. Today's challenges demand an end to the era where a new king is elected - and changed - on a regular basis." (18/11/2014)

Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany | 20/11/2014

Klaus Brill on the Germans' strange mental maps

Twelve states with roughly 160 million inhabitants lie between Russia and Germany. Nevertheless many Germans view Russia as their most important neighbour, Klaus Brill criticises in the left-liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung: "When Germans talk of Russia as a neighbour these days, they certainly mean it in a wider sense - or they're thinking of maps as they used to be. ... It's all a matter of perspective. Everyone has their own mental map in their head and heart, with countries sorted according to their personal interests and current political importance. ... We're dealing with a sort of psycho-geography which also reflects power relationships and individual experiences. ... It is not surprising that those living 'between the two' live with different mental maps. The first thing they think of when they hear the Germans talk like that is that they are once again being largely overlooked. ... As paradoxical as it sounds, many Germans feel closer to Russia than to all that lies between the two countries. For Poles, Latvians, Estonians or Lithuanians this comes as a painful realisation." (20/11/2014)

Delfi - Lithuania | 18/11/2014

Historical parallels are futile, Romas Sadauskas-Kvietkevičius believes

Drawing parallels between the present and the past is common practice in Lithuania, a tendency Journalist Romas Sadauskas-Kvietkevičius criticises on the web portal Delfi: "We compare 2014 with 1914 when Europe sank into the flames of the First World War. When we follow the events in eastern Ukraine we remember how in 1940 we were unable to offer armed resistance to the Soviet Union. And when we talk about the demands of the Polish minority to have street names [in places heavily populated by Poles] written in Polish, someone always reminds us of the occupation of the Vilnius area [by Poland] in the interwar period. ... This inherited past sometimes helps us to understand the events and threats of the present. But far more often it prevents us from having a clearer perspective of the future. It's like an old house in which old clothes that are too small, toys from childhood and old and useless devices have gathered and are taking up all the space. " (18/11/2014)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - Germany | 12/11/2014

For Mikhail Yampolsky the Russians are losing touch with reality

Russian society is characterised by resentment, fatigue and the development of a slave mentality, Russian American historian Mikhail Yampolsky writes in the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: "In my view the refusal to accept reality in today's Russia is directly related to the helplessness of the people, who are unable to bring about the slightest change in their country - or even in their own family. ... All of Russian society, from Putin down to the lowliest street sweeper, is equally infected by feelings of resentment. With Putin it's because Russia and its president aren't accepted as equal players in the global arena. For the street sweeper it's because of his helplessness vis-á-vis the police, civil servants, judges and criminals. I believe that at a specific moment the resentment fantasies at the top were strangely echoed by the resentment fantasies of the population at large. ... Although the government, as embodied by Putin, is to blame for the fact that the people do not have any influence at all on events and decisions, today's changing attitudes help it rather than harm it." (12/11/2014)

Irish Independent - Ireland | 16/11/2014

Dan O'Brien sees political centre imploding in crisis states

Ireland's three big centre parties were unable to muster more than 50 percent in the latest opinion polls. And in Spain and Greece too, the traditional parties stand to suffer huge losses to populist or anti-democratic parties, columnist Dan O'Brien comments in the conservative daily Irish Independent: "But those who have argued that the current era mirrors the 1930s, when the political centre didn't hold in most of Europe, now have a stronger case to make. The remarkably similar recent developments in Ireland and Spain, along with longer-standing trends in Greece which could be coming to a head, suggest that after six years of economic crisis the political centre may no longer be holding in the countries worst affected by slump. All three countries will soon hold their second general election since 2008, and all the indications are that political turmoil is coming down the line. ... Those who have warned about the political effects of the economic crisis now really do have something to worry about." (16/11/2014) - Poland | 13/11/2014

Aleksandra Kosmopolska on Poland's lack of morals

Poland's national-conservative PiS party kicked three MPs out of parliament on Monday for making fraudulent travel expense claims. The fact that they didn't resign of their own accord testifies to a lacking sense of social responsibility that is not confined to these three politicians, blogger Aleksandra Kosmopolska comments angrily on the online portal NaTemat: "I've reflected on why Poland is such an odd country with so many political and moral scandals. Statistically more than elsewhere. ... After all, all those who are elected come from the same nation. They have the same ethics and the same cultural background. But in [Polish] society a sense of responsibility for the individual and common good is lacking. Moreover the media are only critical when it boosts their circulation. This hinders a political culture in which people resign of their own accord. And that means the political system is not a healthy one." (13/11/2014)

Jutarnji List - Croatia | 11/11/2014

Snježana Pavić on how the Berlin Wall has shifted

The Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago but rather than disappearing it has shifted to the edge of Europe, columnist Snježana Pavić warns in the liberal daily Jutarnji List. "Fireworks, champagne and balloons couldn't hide the fact that the reality that has emerged in the last 25 years is far removed from what the young people at Brandenburg Gate in November 1989 hoped for. The end of the bipolar world was supposed to mark a departure into a more humane future. ... In actual fact both worlds, East and West, have collapsed. The one so drastically that after two years no trace of it remained. The other has disappeared gradually and is now breathing the last dying breaths of its former glory. Guantánamo and Snowden reversed the history of freedom and human rights. 'Free Europe' looks increasingly like a Hollywood disaster film in which the survivors defend the remnants of their civilisation and their resources by shooting at the hopelessly starving masses on the other side of the wall. This wall no longer runs through the centre of Berlin, but along the borders of Spain, Italy, Bulgaria, Greece and Croatia." (11/11/2014)

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