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MAIN FOCUS | 30/07/2015

Channel Tunnel refugee drama

In the last two nights alone, more than 3,000 people apparently tried to enter the UK via the Channel Tunnel from Calais. Another young man died in the attempt on Tuesday night. The countries of Europe must finally start cooperating on the refugee problem, some commentators urge. Others stress that the problem can only be resolved through a crackdown operation off Libya's coast.

With articles from the following publications:
De Morgen - Belgium, De Telegraaf - Netherlands, The Guardian - United Kingdom, El País - Spain

De Morgen - Belgium

Politicians in France and the UK are partly to blame for the drama in Calais, writes the centre-left daily De Morgen: "For fear of losing voters to xenophobic parties they have averted their eyes for more than a decade. The current theory about combating human smuggling is of course valid. But human smuggling only flourishes if the state fails to intervene. As is the case in Calais. Now the politicians in Calais are planning to build a fence. … This is Europe in 2015, and London and Paris are opting to treat refugees like dangerous animals in a zoo. … If French President François Hollande doesn't want to undermine the values of freedom, equality and fraternity he should accept the help Europe is offering him. The British money that has been earmarked for the fence could then be invested in a European migration policy that preserves universal human rights." (30/07/2015)

De Telegraaf - Netherlands

The drama in Calais can only be ended through decisive action against human smuggling, the right-wing daily De Telegraaf points out: "For months now we have been waiting for appropriate reaction to the humanitarian drama, and particularly from France. This week 4,000 refugees who aren't controlled or registered have gathered in Calais. The French must look into whether these people really have a right to asylum. At the same time these problems are hurting Europe economically because lorries are stuck on both sides of the Channel. The British want to rapidly erect a two-kilometre fence and the French are sending extra police. But a true solution can only be achieved by fighting the unscrupulous human smugglers. This requires a bold intervention in the form of a sea blockade off the coast of Libya." (30/07/2015)

The Guardian - United Kingdom

The British government will only be able to stop refugees from coming through the Channel Tunnel by cooperating with its European partners, the centre-left daily The Guardian argues: "Migration pressures from Syria and sub-Saharan Africa are human realities. They have not arisen because of EU treaties or directives. Some asylum seekers would want to get to Britain from France anyway. Equally, any long-term effort to manage or reduce such pressures can only be carried out by the nations working together, however difficult that can sometimes be. ... This is neither a purely British problem nor a purely French one. It is a joint problem. It must be solved jointly - and humanely as well as firmly." (29/07/2015)

El País - Spain

Only by providing genuine and shared solutions can Europe's governments prevent the immigration debate from further bolstering xenophobic forces, warns the centre-left daily El País: "Regardless of the fact that Europe's aging population needs a new influx of people parties that rail against immigration are abusing the debate to criticise the rapid changes in Europe, globalisation and the heavy spending on foreigners. The parties of the democratic centre must take a different approach: jointly tackling immigration and asylum policy, educating the population and sharing the high cost for finding a real solution to this major problem. Under no circumstances should the proponents of Europe allow the affected countries to act alone. … The Cameron government undoubtedly needs French and pan-European support to prevent right-wing populists from gaining even more ground through this issue." (30/07/2015)

MAIN FOCUS | 29/07/2015

Turkey gets backing from Nato

The Nato partners on Tuesday promised to support Ankara in the "fight against terrorism". There was no official criticism of the controversial attacks on PKK targets. Nato is allowing itself to be used by Turkey, commentators criticise, seeing clear domestic motives behind the anti-terror campaign of the Turkish president.

With articles from the following publications: - Germany, Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland, Cumhuriyet - Turkey, Phileleftheros - Cyprus - Germany

Nato failed to discuss Turkey's attacks on PKK targets at its meeting, criticises the website of the public broadcaster "[Nato Secretary General Jens] Stoltenberg did not say a word to differentiate between which attacks Nato would support and which it wouldn't. This is a carte blanche that will make it easier for the Turkish president, intent on preserving his power, to use brute force against political opponents inside and outside Turkey. … Erdoğan will use any means to prevent an independent Kurdish state, which would give his political opponents a boost. Now he's using Nato to do his dirty work and Nato is playing along. The bait: Turkey's surprising turnaround in the fight against the 'Islamic State'. But it's implausible that Turkey has turned into an IS opponent overnight." (28/07/2015)

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan officially declared the end of the peace process with the Kurds on Tuesday. For him, the fight against the PKK is a political manoeuvre, explains the liberal-conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung: "The moderate forces [among the Kurds] are now under double pressure: from the Kurdish hardliners and from the state. Erdoğan is already threatening the politicians of the pro-Kurdish opposition HDP with reprisals should they have ties to 'terrorist groups'. For the president the whole situation is quite tempting. In a new atmosphere of violence and surging nationalism he can position himself as the strongman. If the coalition talks in Turkey fail as expected and new elections are held, Erdoğan hopes to win back votes for his AKP that went to the right wing rivals in the last elections. He knows that even if he can't beat the PKK using military force, he can at least use it to achieve his political goals." (28/07/2015)

Cumhuriyet - Turkey

The ruling AKP is looking to regain its government majority by fighting the terrorist group "Islamic State" and the PKK, Mustafa Balbay, a columnist and MP for the opposition party CHP, writes in the daily newspaper Cumhuriyet: "The AKP is doing everything conceivable to avoid surrendering power. More than anything else this includes its fight against terror. The basic philosophy behind this fight is that no matter where it comes from, what the goal is, or who is waging it, we are against any kind of terror! Naturally the government has a primary responsibility after the latest terrorist attacks not to complain and exploit the events, but to find those responsible. … The AKP however would prefer to ignore the results of the June 7 election and carry out new ones instead. … The parliament, including the sound-minded MPs of the AKP, must put an end to this game." (29/07/2015)

Phileleftheros - Cyprus

The US government on Tuesday recognised the Turkish air strikes against the PKK as an act of self-defence and described the PKK as an aggressor. This stance will put Washington in a dilemma, the liberal daily Phileleftheros warns: "It was very important for the Americans to have a strong partner against the jihadists. If it wasn't for the Kurds the jihadists would be occupying far more territory than they are now. This has made the Kurds a strong player in the bitter conflicts in the Middle East. They feel stronger now and ready to push to establish a state of their own. … If the conflict between the Kurds and the Turks escalates the US will be in the difficult position of having to decide which side to back. Washington is in a huge dilemma. The Americans need Turkey, but they also need the Kurds." (28/07/2015)

MAIN FOCUS | 28/07/2015

Turkey convenes Nato meeting

At the request of Ankara Nato members will meet today, Tuesday, to discuss Turkey's conflicts with the IS and the PKK. The main question will be whether and how the alliance partners can provide support. Commentators warn that Ankara must not be allowed to treat the Kurds and the IS equally as enemies but doubt that the Nato partners will give this much consideration.

With articles from the following publications:
La Libre Belgique - Belgium, Blog Adevărul - Romania, Newsweek Polska - Poland, Hürriyet - Turkey

La Libre Belgique - Belgium

The Americans and Europeans must make it clear to Ankara that the demands of the PKK are in no way comparable with the atrocities committed by the IS, urges the daily newspaper La Libre Belgique: "The fact that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's regime is combining its operations against the IS with a large-scale offensive against the Kurdish Workers' Party PKK proves that by showing understanding for the IS and even accommodating it, Turkey was hoping to pitch the Islamists and Kurds against each other in a prolonged war. … But you can't compare the PKK's legitimate demands with the terrible crimes and attacks committed by the IS in the Middle East. And the Americans and Europeans must make that clear to Ankara as soon as possible. In the name of the democratic values they profess. But also to avoid losing the support they need from the Kurds in the fight against the Islamist threat." (28/07/2015)

Blog Adevărul - Romania

Nato members are convening for an emergency meeting at the request of Turkey this Tuesday. They will discuss the country's recent air strikes against the IS and the Kurds. The Kurds will be the losers in the end, journalist Mircea Barbu writes on the blog of the liberal conservative daily Adevărul: "No one at the meeting will point out that most of the Turkish strikes targeted Kurdish bases in Syria and Iraq. The very bases that prevented IS expansion when no other government in the region wanted to engage in the fight. … The US certainly won't raise the issue; it's happy to see someone else taking the reins in this never-ending conflict. And the Iraqi Kurdish politicians don't want an independent Kurdistan representing joint interests and principles in the region. … In exchange for the deployment of the biggest Nato armies in Syria, the international community will forget the Kurds' efforts and the blatant violations of human rights in Syria and Iraq will be allowed to go unpunished." (27/07/2015)

Newsweek Polska - Poland

Despite all appearances Ankara hasn't changed its strategy against Islamist terror, the liberal Newsweek Polska magazine argues: "Turkey has always behaved passively towards the IS and al-Qaeda in Syria - almost as if it had an informal non-aggression pact with them. Erdoğan may now be allowing the Americans to use an airport after having turned down Washington's requests to do so up to now. … But has Erdoğan really reached the conclusion that jihad represents a major threat? No. Because Turkey has launched a major offensive against the Kurds at the same time. … Erdoğan has only half joined the US in the fight against the IS to stop the Americans interfering in Turkey's conflict with the Kurds. … We can expect the following scenario: anti-Kurdish resentment in Turkey will start growing again, the [pro-Kurdish] HDP will fail to gain any parliamentary seats in new elections and the AKP will emerge as the definitive winner." (28/07/2015)

Hürriyet - Turkey

The leader of the Turkish pro-Kurdish HDP party, Selahattin Demirtaş, on Monday accused the Turkish government of having halted the peace process with its military strikes against the PKK. The HDP must now clearly distance itself from PKK violence in order to save this process between Ankara and the Kurds, explains the conservative daily Hürriyet: "The warlords [of the PKK] want to maintain their own totalitarian rule. This makes the resistance by the Kurdish movement's leftist and liberal intelligence important. The HDP parliamentarians who don't support the PKK's course, as well as the Kurdish democrats, are morally obliged to counter the pressure [of the PKK] in the Qandil region. It must be made clear to the Kurds in Qandil and the KCK [the military arm of the PKK] that weapons aren't the solution. To prevent a disaster like that in Syria and put the derailed peace process back on track the HDP must seek cooperation." (28/07/2015)

MAIN FOCUS | 27/07/2015

Turkey attacks IS and PKK

The Turkish army has been carrying out air strikes against the IS in Syria and the banned Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq since Friday. At Ankara's behest Nato will convene to discuss the situation on Tuesday. Commentators call for the military alliance to adopt a clear stance vis-à-vis its member Turkey and see Turkish domestic politics behind the attacks.

With articles from the following publications:
Deutschlandfunk - Germany, Dagens Nyheter - Sweden, Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland, Sabah - Turkey

Deutschlandfunk - Germany

In the fight against the IS Nato must establish a clear stance towards its member Turkey, demands the public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk in the run-up to Tuesday's talks: "It is clearly in the interests of the alliance to fight IS. Politically speaking, Nato is not only obliged to step in to help Turkey, but Turkey must act in Nato's interests as far as possible. Nato's partners are supporting the Kurds in northern Iraq, but at the same time their positions are being attacked by Turkey. In this way the image of a united Nato is fraying at the edges. Nato needs to take action here. It has to make it clear that the fight against the IS must be fought together. Nato must stand united. But the fight must be a creative one. This terrorist gang cannot be defeated with bombs alone." (25/07/2015)

Dagens Nyheter - Sweden

Turkey's decision to attack the terrorist group IS as well as the PKK is highly questionable, the liberal daily Dagens Nyheter finds: "Turkey is risking a war on two fronts that is really a conflict between three parties. This could be the beginning of a regional meltdown. The Kurds, who are currently the most powerful force in the fight against IS with various militia groups on the ground, could end up being the main victims of the conflict. Turkey's balancing act, distancing itself from the IS on the one hand and fighting the Kurds on the other, risks weakening the resistance to the Islamists. Moreover it forces the US to manoeuvre between Nato member Turkey and the Kurds as its allies on the ground. Turkey has a huge responsibility to bear. The fight against the IS must not be undermined by national and party political special interests." (27/07/2015)

Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland

Turkey's attacks on PKK targets are all down to election tactics, writes the centre-left daily Tages-Anzeiger: "In the parliamentary election at the start of June the [pro-Kurd] HDP won 13 percent of the vote. This has changed the political landscape. Erdoğan's Islamic-conservative AKP has lost its absolute majority. The result of the election has plunged Turkey into a profound crisis. Erdoğan is in no hurry to share power and has dragged out the formation of a government for as long as possible. None of the opposition parties wants to partner up with the AKP - they hate it too much. The HDP rejected negotiations right from the start, and the ultra-nationalists of the MHP not much later. The biggest opposition party, the secular CHP, is in talks but doesn't really believe in an agreement. So Erdoğan is moving closer to his goal. He wants new elections. And it looks like he'll get them. Now he's preparing the climate for that scenario." (26/07/2015)

Sabah - Turkey

The PKK announced on Saturday that the ceasefire that has been broadly observed since 2013 has lost its relevance in the wake of the Turkish military's attacks on PKK targets in northern Iraq. In recent days the southeast of Turkey has seen repeated attacks, for which the PKK has partly claimed responsibility. It's no coincidence that the PKK has ended the peace process while the coalition talks are underway, the pro-government daily Sabah comments: "The PKK has declared war on the state at a time when it believes there is a power vacuum in the country. This was its greatest mistake. A president elected with 52 percent of the vote is in office and dominating the process. The government that has ruled the country for years and has worked together successfully with all state players and in particular with the president is still in office, even if only temporarily. … We should not forget that we can only talk of true peace, of a real solution, in an environment free of terror and not threatened by violence." (27/07/2015)

MAIN FOCUS | 24/07/2015

Troika returns to Athens

Experts from the EU Commission, the ECB and the IMF are expected in Athens on Friday for talks on a third bailout package. Envoys from the ESM bailout organisation will also be attending. Prime minister Alexis Tsipras has no choice but to sit down at the table with the Troika again, some commentators say. Others think he will be forced to call new elections very soon.

With articles from the following publications:
Der Standard - Austria, Berliner Zeitung - Germany, Protagon - Greece

Der Standard - Austria

The government in Athens has no alternative but to continue negotiating with the creditors, the centre-left daily Der Standard comments resignedly: "At best Greece's ruling left-wing party [can] hope to push through an austerity programme for the next three years. At worst - and more than a few opinion leaders say this is what will realistically happen - the new austerity programme will fail. … According to the latest estimates from Athens, Greece's economy will shrink by two or more percent this year because of the prolonged tug of war with its creditors. This in turn will increase the creditors' austerity demands. The ruling left will complain about more 'blackmailing'. But it doesn't have any real alternatives." (23/07/2015)

Berliner Zeitung - Germany

Despite Wednesday night's vote in the Greek parliament in favour of further reform measures unrest continues to grow in Athens, according to the centre-left Berliner Zeitung: "It was thanks to the votes from the opposition that the Greek prime minister managed to achieve a majority. Key projects such as the abolition of early retirement were dropped from the agenda with the consent of the creditors to avoid stoking discontent. There's no overlooking the rift in Tsipras's Syriza movement. Which is why it looks increasingly likely that he will have to call new elections over the summer break. And things are not likely to quieten down in the rest of Europe either. During the summer break the creditors will have to approve the third bailout package. … In this light the successful referendums in Athens are a first step on a long, difficult path back to normality. Genuine stability within the economic union, either politically or economically, is still a long way off." (23/07/2015)

Protagon - Greece

To prevail over the opposition in his own ranks Tsipras should cooperate with the pro-Europeans in other parties, advises the liberal website Protagon: "The final battle between the former comrades will be vicious and politically bloody. … Only the voters can resolve this. They must decide whether they want Tsipras and his team, who prefer the path of realism, or whether they're convinced by the third-world vision of the drachma proponents. Tsipras will probably get his way. … But he will be seriously injured and incapable of making the decisions necessary to prevent a Grexit. … He must now cooperate with those political forces that believe in the country's European course." (23/07/2015)

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