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MAIN FOCUS | 13/10/2015

Attack in Ankara: The search for the culprits

Turkish investigators are working on the assumption that the Ankara attack was carried out by two suicide bombers belonging to the terrorist Islamic State organisation, Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Monday. No one should be surprised at the presence of jihadists in Turkey, some commentators write. Others fear more acts of violence before the election on the basis that they could help the ruling AKP to win.

With articles from the following publications:
Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy, Ethnos - Greece, Hürriyet Daily News - Turkey, Diário de Notícias - Portugal

Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

It's hypocritical of the West to feign amazement that the IS was behind the Ankara attack, the liberal business daily Il Sole 24 Ore complains: "All of a sudden we discover that the Islamic extremism that has destroyed Syria and Iraq has taken root in Turkey. Yet for four years now the newspapers and television have been reporting on the heavy traffic of anti-Assad fighters on the 'jihadists' motorway' from the Turkish province of Hatay to Syria. The West was not only an observer but a silent accomplice. A Nato member for 60 years and a candidate for EU membership for decades, Turkey is the West's protective wall and has imported all the problems of the Middle East. In line with the wishes of President Erdoğan, it has become a host country for the Islamic jihad." (13/10/2015)

Ethnos - Greece

The attack in Ankara shows the extent to which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has manoeuvred himself into a corner in foreign policy and domestic policy, writes the centre-left daily To Ethnos: "In order to achieve an absolute majority Erdoğan has declared total war on the Kurds and is using anti-democratic practices like the persecution of journalists. At the same time Turkey seems completely isolated in Syria, while the US is leaving the 'moderate' dissidents in the lurch and Putin is talking to the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. The way the EU, Nato, the US, Saudi Arabia and the emirates are keeping their distance is a sign of Erdoğan's isolation: there is no place and no role for Turkey in any of the potential compromise scenarios for Syria. If Erdoğan is waging a war against the PKK to prevent the HDP from becoming the fourth party in parliament, one has to ask what else will happen after Saturday's attack as the election on November 1 draws closer and closer." (12/10/2015)

Hürriyet Daily News - Turkey

The attack in Ankara follows in a long tradition of similar atrocities, the liberal English-language Hürriyet Daily News points out: "It is a Turkish classic in the sense that whenever Turkey's politics entered murky waters it experienced a deadly incident, whether that be an attack attempting to harm as many people as possible or assassinations of prominent figures. It is a Turkish classic in the sense that some people (and not just the pro-Kurdish opposition party but also ordinary people) who suspect the state's - in other words the Justice and Development Party government's - involvement in the bombing. So the long forgotten 'deep state' is back on the agenda again, creating a sense of déjà vu. It is a Turkish classic because the atrocity said 'I am coming.' Ever since Turkey opened its İncirlik airbase to coalition forces fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), it was obvious that the whole country would turn into a target for that deadly organization." (13/10/2015)

Diário de Notícias - Portugal

Both the EU and the Turkish president are to blame for the terrible state Turkey is in, writes journalist Leonídio Paulo Ferreira in the centre-right daily Diário de Notícias: "People are saying that Turkey is going through 'dark times' right now. They point fingers at President Erdoğan, saying he is to blame, and that's true to a certain extent. … But the EU must also examine its own part in the debacle. It has left this old candidate for membership waiting outside the door for too long. This not only disappointed Erdoğan (and prompted him to change his geopolitical priorities) it also frustrated the 'Western' section of the population. … For Europe it is of great significance that Turkey remains a success story, a blooming democracy in a Muslim country. We should therefore finally recognise and acknowledge the Western destiny of this nation." (12/10/2015)

MAIN FOCUS | 12/10/2015

Grief and anger after Ankara attack

Three weeks before snap elections an attack on a peace rally in Ankara that claimed at least 97 lives has escalated the political crisis in Turkey. Some commentators suspect a conspiracy by the ruling AK Party aimed at securing an absolute majority in the election. Others hold Europe partially responsible for the political chaos in Turkey.

With articles from the following publications:
Delo - Slovenia, Le Temps - Switzerland, Sme - Slovakia, Cumhuriyet - Turkey

Delo - Slovenia

Selahattin Demirtaş, the head of the pro-Kurdish party HDP, has blamed the Turkish government for the attack in Ankara. That's plausible enough, the centre-left daily Delo believes: "It's hard to shake the feeling that the Turkish regime is doing all it can to spread the fear of terrorism. In this way the high nomenclature is seeking to win back voter allegiance and secure itself an absolute majority. Turkey has overcome numerous crises in its history. In the 70s the violence almost tore the country apart. The 90s marked the climax of the war against the Kurds. Later it turned out that lurking behind all the crises was a dark secret service network operating on orders from above. Now peace is once more being threatened in Turkey. And who is again spreading chaos and violence? The Kurdish opposition says it knows the answer." (12/10/2015)

Le Temps - Switzerland

The events in Turkey affect the EU directly, which is why it should do more to help the country, the liberal daily Le Temps argues after the devastating attacks in Ankara: "The continent has left Turkey - which is unable to cope with the arrival of over two million Syrians - in the lurch. Fed up with seeing them disembark on Greece's beaches, Europe wants to get Turkey to take them back and keep them there. In exchange: peanuts! Such a fool's bargain is unacceptable for Ankara. On the one hand Europe would like the Kurds to form the front line against the jihadists, but on the other it has abandoned them. Just as it abandoned the journalists and human rights activists who sounded the alarm. Europe is completely bogged down in contradictions, short-term policies and paralysis. Nevertheless what's happening in Turkey concerns us first and foremost, and will have repercussions here at home. What we need, therefore, is a policy for Turkey that's worthy of the name." (11/10/2015)

Sme - Slovakia

Turkey is closer than ever to civil war after the Ankara bombings, the liberal daily Sme fears: "Erdoğan is concentrating enough power in his hands. He has the security forces safely on his side. Only the last elections stopped him on his path to omnipotence, and they are to be repeated on November 1. The Kurds, however, who see the chance to create their own state from the Syrian and Iraqi chaos, are considerably stronger now. With the support of the West they are successfully battling the IS. The West needs both sides against the IS, the Kurds and the Turks. It can't afford to lose an ally and doesn't know who to side with. … All this could unleash a civil war. And what can trigger it more easily than an attack right in the capital?" (12/10/2015)

Cumhuriyet - Turkey

Turkey's Interior Minister Selami Altınok announced on Saturday after the attack in Ankara that there had been no gaps in security measures and that he refused to resign. The Kemalist daily Cumhuriyet shakes its head in disbelief: "No matter where in the world such an event takes place, members of the government are held accountable. But in this country holding the government accountable for anything at all is practically a criminal offence. The next thing you know the murdered victims will be declared the culprits, but heaven forbid that a single official should bear the blame. It's almost as if the incident had been declared a natural disaster, and the deaths a fateful consequence of taking part in a demonstration. But as much as it loves to gloat over its own accomplishments, for some reason our state isn't responsible for anything that happens. ... Such audacity is unparalleled." (12/10/2015)

MAIN FOCUS | 09/10/2015

Nato criticises Russia's Syrian intervention

At a meeting on Thursday Nato urged Moscow to help in the fight against the IS terror organisation and to stop supporting Assad's regime in Syria. The West must finally admit that there is no alternative to major military intervention, some commentators maintain. For others Russia is only hurting its own interests with its attacks on Syrian opposition forces.

With articles from the following publications:
Göteborgs-Posten - Sweden, The Times - United Kingdom, Le Figaro - France, Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

Göteborgs-Posten - Sweden

The US and Nato must finally say goodbye to the idea that there is an alternative to major military intervention in Syria, demands the liberal daily Göteborgs-Posten: "All or nothing - that's the way the US and Nato seem to think. And on the whole the result was nothing. … But there is a midway between all and nothing, namely something. The US and Nato should have set up a no-fly zone a long time ago, and Sweden would have been glad to help. … That would have created a safe zone in Syria watched over by Swedish, European and American military. If possible under a UN flag. There should have been a zone where helpless Syrians who feared for their lives could flee to, where [the UN Refugee Agency] UNHCR and the [UN's] World Food Programme could provide them with food, medicine, schools and a roof over their heads. And where it wasn't forbidden to work and take care of one's needs." (09/10/2015)

The Times - United Kingdom

With his military intervention in Syria Russian President Vladimir Putin is not only turning the Sunnis in the Middle East against his country but he is also promoting radical Islamism in Russia, the conservative daily The Times warns: "Across the Gulf, preachers are urging Sunnis not just to fight the holy war but also to take arms against the Russians. Rewards are being offered for the capture of Russian soldiers. The northern Caucasus, far from being shielded by Russia's airstrikes, is likely to become a battleground in Mr Putin's back yard. Domestic enthusiasm for war will melt when dead soldiers are returned to their families. ... Now, as in Ukraine, Mr Putin is being revealed as a leader who overestimates his powers." (08/10/2015)

Le Figaro - France

As in the Chechen war, Russian President Putin is using the fight against terror as a pretext for weakening opponents of the regime, the conservative daily Le Figaro points out, but warns that this time the danger for the whole world is much greater: "In the eyes of the Kremlin chief, the method developed in Chechnya has proven worthwhile. However Russia is running considerable risks in sweeping away everything it its path in an area were two competing coalitions are vying for supremacy. Some are already worried that a simple spark could ignite a third world war. Let's hope things don't go that far. Nevertheless the risk exists that the opposition could be driven into the arms of the best armed group. That could well be the IS, which has been spared by the Russian strikes so far. It would be a bitter irony if the means used by Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad had the same effect as those employed by George Bush in the name of American imperialism to eliminate Saddam Hussein." (09/10/2015)

Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

The Syrian war is worsening the already tense relations between Nato and Russia, the liberal business daily Il Sole 24 Ore comments: "On the rubbles of Middle East nations crushed under the wars a new wall in the heart of Europe is rising. The face-off between Russia and NATO is getting tougher and tougher: the Siraq (Syria and Iraq) war is moving along the trajectory of a crisis that extends beyond the Middle East and its regional reach. From the bloody arena of the Levant, the East-West standoff rebounds in Europe, reopening the wound of Ukraine. ... As if the problem, after Russia's intervention, were no longer Assad and the caliphate. ... The world seems to be going back to before the collapse of USSR, when on the two sides of the wall there was no doubt about who was the friend and the enemy. " (09/10/2015)

MAIN FOCUS | 08/10/2015

Refugees: Merkel and Hollande for more Europe

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande made a joint call for more solidarity in the refugee crisis on Wednesday in the European Parliament. The German-French tandem is functioning once more and will save Europe, some commentators write enthusiastically. Others call on the two to provide concrete solutions instead of pretty words.

With articles from the following publications:
El País - Spain, Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy, Lidové noviny - Czech Republic, Eesti Päevaleht - Estonia

El País - Spain

It's a good sign that Merkel and Holland are presenting a common front, the centre-left daily El País comments: "As history shows, the chances of overcoming any problem multiply when Europe's two motors of growth team up. … As Merkel stressed yesterday, only with the joint impulse from Berlin and Paris can a new system for distributing refugees be established and - more importantly - the causes that compel millions of people to leave their home countries be combated. The refugee crisis is among the most urgent challenges the continent now faces and if it is mismanaged Europe could be in for serious problems. But the real problem that threatens to destroy Europe is the advance of nationalism and populism. Merkel and Hollande made that clear yesterday." (08/10/2015)

Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

The Franco-German duo's performance was disappointing in the eyes of the liberal business daily Il Sole 24 Ore: "No concrete announcements. Nothing new on asylum policy apart from the confirmation that Dublin is dead. The selective silence made more noise than what was actually said. They remained silent on certain issues to avoid exposing the divergences in the German-French dialogue. Merkel preferred to overlook those divergences, signalling at most general support for the French president. Because she doesn't agree with his stance and because she is convinced that in today's Europe of 28 members there is hardly any leeway for progress on reforming the EU treaties and increasing the EU budget. And because the chancellor is watching her political credibility dwindle - her popularity is sinking and her party is criticising her handling of the refugee crisis while the anti-immigration parties are gaining support." (08/10/2015)

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

The refugee crisis can only be managed through deeper European integration, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande stressed on Wednesday addressing the European Parliament. But what does more Europe mean? the conservative daily Lidové noviny asks, and postulates: "Yes, we need more Europe, if in addition to noble ideals its identity comprises the will and the strength to defend itself. More Europe means not just keeping the Schengen Area, but also protecting it. When Hollande calls for the outer borders to be made more secure by boosting the defence of the states on the EU's periphery he is inadvertently agreeing with Hungary and the other Visegrád states who are giving Budapest more than just moral support. We need more of a Europe that not only shows solidarity with the afflicted but also takes a hard line against people smugglers and those who are not and never were under threat." (08/10/2015)

Eesti Päevaleht - Estonia

Merkel and Hollande appealed to the Europeans' conscience and urged them not to abandon the continent's basic values. The liberal daily Eesti Päevaleht hopes Europe will listen: "Estonia must cross its fingers and hope that the leaders of Germany and France will find the strength to stick to their ideals. The worst scenario for small states would be the collapse of the Schengen system, one of the most visible hallmarks of the European Union. ... Apart from taking in a couple of hundred people, no one is expecting much more than symbolic gestures from Estonia. These are meant to help the big EU states convince their voters that other states are demonstrating solidarity in these difficult times. ... Merkel and Hollande reminded those willing to listen of the basic ideals that have brought unprecedented prosperity to Europe. But they spoke with weary voices. If their message falls on deaf ears, such speeches will be replaced by those of ultranationalist leaders like Le Pen or Geert Wilders." (08/10/2015)

MAIN FOCUS | 07/10/2015

ECJ: Europe's data unsafe in the US

The personal data of European Internet users is not adequately protected from being accessed by authorities in the US, according to the European Court of Justice. On Tuesday the court ruled that the "Safe Harbour" agreement - which regulates data exchange between the EU and the US - was invalid. Europe's judiciary is protecting the people's private sphere, some commentators write in praise. For others, the freedom of the Internet is in peril.

With articles from the following publications:
Expansión - Spain, Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland, Avvenire - Italy, The Irish Times - Ireland

Expansión - Spain

The European judiciary is defending the rights of its citizens, the conservative daily Expansión writes approvingly: "The ECJ has made it clear that in the state of tension over security and the right to privacy of personal data, the European Union gives more importance to the latter. Nonetheless the ruling doesn't oblige the social network to immediately stop using the information of its European clients. Facebook issued a statement calling for an agreement between the European Union and the United States on this matter, and that is appropriate. But the ECJ has shown with its ruling that it takes the separation of powers and the rule of law seriously." (07/10/2015)

Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland

After the ruling passed down by the ECJ the US and the EU must replace the "Safe Harbour" agreement with another as soon as possible, the centre-left daily Tages-Anzeiger urges: "The Internet once stood for limitless freedom. Now, however, the worldwide web has lost its innocence. It is facing fragmentation and perversion. What's more, from China to Russia the Internet and the social media have long since become instruments of power and control. Between Europe and America, different cultures are now creating dangerous rifts in the digital world. The states of the free world have an interest in safeguarding the achievements of the Internet and the digital economy. That includes the EU and the US quickly reaching a consensus on a new 'Safe Harbour' agreement that is worthy of the name. If not even the Europeans and Americans can come to terms on joint standards for protecting personal data, the enemies of freedom from Moscow to Beijing will rejoice." (07/10/2015)

Avvenire - Italy

It is right to protect users, the Catholic daily Avvenire writes commenting on the ECJ ruling, but adds that it would be better if a standardised set of EU data protection rules was worked out rather than leaving it to individual states to come up with their own rules: "The ruling is good news. It carries just one risk. That Europe fails to create a joint policy for protecting digital data and instead allows each country to go its own way - to the detriment of their partners. … Imagine if all Europe were to ban Google, Facebook, Twitter and all the other companies that control the web from using our data commercially. … That would be a revolution with unimaginable consequences in today's digital world based on a powerful oligarchy. Because data is the real money on the Internet. If it is taken away many of the giants would no longer be giants. And the US, which is no longer the only and undisputed global power, would also no longer be at the centre of the digital world." (07/10/2015)

The Irish Times - Ireland

The government in Dublin must on the one hand try to keep the many US companies in the country like Facebook and Google happy and on the other hand adhere to the EU's data protection rules, the centre-left daily The Irish Times concludes: "[T]he Luxembourg ruling puts Ireland in a moral and legal quandary, too, and has forced a debate, long avoided, with parallels to the questions of neutrality and sovereignty raised when US war planes refuel in Shannon. Where do Ireland's loyalties lie? When it comes to Facebook and other tech giants based in Dublin, does Ireland see itself and its data protection regulator as the front-line defender of Irish and EU citizens' fundamental rights to privacy, or as a digital-era colonial outpost of US intelligence?" (06/10/2015)

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