Revista de prensa | 29/01/2015



Athens distances itself from EU sanctions


Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras distanced himself from the joint declaration of EU heads of state and government on new sanctions against Russia on Tuesday. Greece was not consulted, Tsipras said. The country is using foreign policy to strengthen its hand in debt negotiations, some commentators believe. Others predict that Athens won't maintain its new course on Moscow for long.

Deutschlandfunk - Alemania

Athens endangering EU's unity

The new Greek government complained on Tuesday that it wasn't included in the voting process on sanctions against Russia. The new prime minister's strategy is obvious, the public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk comments: "Tsipras's main goal is no doubt to underline his own importance for the other EU member states. And perhaps he's also hoping to use foreign policy to persuade the Euro Group to make concessions in the upcoming negotiations, the message being: you can't get along without Greece. Tsipras is thus taking a dangerous risk. The unity of the EU against Russia in the Ukraine crisis is one of the Union's biggest political successes in years. The prime minister is recklessly jeopardising that achievement." (28/01/2015)

Lidové noviny - La República Checa

Tsipras makes Putin big winner of elections

Vladimir Putin should be jubilant over new Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's opposition to tougher sanctions for Russia, the conservative daily Lidové noviny observes and speculates on the reasons for Athens' stance: "Greece could be trying to secure a better starting position for itself in the negotiations over debt relief. Sources in Brussels say that Athens might agree to the sanctions if Germany backs down on the debt issue. Debts and sanctions may not be directly connected but they can influence each other. The pro-Russian stance of the Greek government is not so surprising on the basis of earlier statements by Tsipras. That's why the magazine Foreign Policy described Putin as the 'big winner in Greece's elections'. Only a few hours after being sworn in as prime minister Tsipras spoke to the Russian ambassador to Athens, who presented him with a congratulatory telegram from Putin." (29/01/2015)

Helsingin Sanomat - Finlandia

Athens betraying common values

EU accession candidates are subject to close scrutiny and must openly espouse Europe's values. But what to do when a EU member suddenly steps out of line, the liberal daily Helsingen Sanomat asks: "Greece has put the basic values of the EU up for discussion table. The Union has taken on members that share its values and goals. Close attention is paid to who is eligible. But what to do when values change in countries that are already members? A government that shares the EU's basic values should not openly question the fact that Russia's actions must be condemned. ... Nevertheless the government led by Syriza seems to be doing just that. The EU system is vulnerable because a single country can block an agreement at a meeting of foreign ministers." (29/01/2015)

Dennik N - Eslovaquia

Moscow can't save Greece either

Alexis Tsipras is much more open than other European politicians in adopting a pro-Russian stance but sooner or later he will feel the consequences, the daily Dennik N predicts: "Unlike Viktor Orbán, Robert Fico and Miloš Zeman,Tsipras has enough backing from his voters to be able to openly do what others only say behind the scenes without taking any action. Many of our Central European politicians are not in a position to clearly say who is the aggressor in Ukraine and who bears the responsibility for the victims of the conflict. In the Czech Republic, Hungary, and also in Slovakia to a certain extent, distrust of Russia is so deep-rooted that pro-Russian politicians are forced to be coy about their support for Putin. But in the end Tsipras will face the same problem as his Central European colleagues: Russia can't replace Western investments. It doesn't have enough money to subsidise its clientele." (29/01/2015)


Die Zeit - Alemania

Ukrainians also increasingly radicalised

The EU leaders already threatened new sanctions against Russia on Tuesday on the grounds that Moscow is increasingly backing the pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. This assessment should not make us blind to the fact that the war is also radicalising Ukrainian society, the liberal weekly Die Zeit warns: "There is a lot of patriotism and a new sense of solidarity, but also a growing brutality. Volunteers are coming back from the front in eastern Ukraine traumatised and angry. Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko is still pushing for negotiations, but the hardliners who refuse to give up Donbass are growing louder. ... This is Ukraine's dilemma: the worse the situation in the east gets, the bigger the losses, and the louder the hardliners and troublemakers get. Without decisive help from Europe Ukraine won't be able to escape this dilemma. That would be Putin's real victory, and it can still be prevented." (29/01/2015)

The Independent - Gran Bretaña

Kurds are viable allies against IS

After months of fierce battle Syrian Kurds have driven the fighters of the Islamic State (IS) out of the Syrian town of Kobani. The left-liberal daily The Independent hails this as a milestone in the fight against the jihadists: "Syria's Kurds have proved resistant and, in the process, destroyed Isis' aura of invincibility. Fighters from the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the ruling party of Syrian Kurdistan, have proved two things. Firstly, that Isis can be contained and defeated on the ground. But also, that with local forces on the ground, Western military support and air-power can in fact work, and without the need for a Western or international troop presence. ... It also ensures that at least one success story emerges from the Syria conflict and indeed one viable geo-strategic partner for the future." (28/01/2015)

Avvenire - Italia

Al-Qaeda highlights IS's ideological weakness

The Yemeni al-Qaeda offshoot AQAP has taken responsibility for the attack on the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. With its activities al-Qaeda is not only attacking the West but also showing up the contradictions in the ideology of its rival, the IS, the Catholic daily Avvenire comments: "By the looks of it al-Qaeda still holds to its founding ideology: global jihad as a necessary response to the West's purported attempts to destroy Islam. The IS, by contrast, is pursuing a blend of global and local politics. Although it preaches the international jihad it is building up its network within a limited area, namely the Sunni zones between Syria and Iraq. In so proceeding al-Baghadi's movement is above all focused on destroying its internal enemies, in particular the Shiites. ... Al-Qaeda has responded. Through the activities of a local movement it is seeking new visibility, and in passing highlighting the contradictions in the IS's doctrine and ideology." (29/01/2015)

Delo - Eslovenia

Status quo keeps Kosovo in crisis

Around 2,000 people demonstrated against the government in Priština, the capital of Kosovo, on Tuesday, accusing it of being too compliant regarding their Serbian neighbours. The international administrators of Kosovo are keen to maintain the status quo in the country, which means the conflict will continue to simmer, the left-liberal daily Delo argues: "Because Kosovo didn't achieve its independence through self-determination the country has independence without sovereignty or territorial integrity. Its status is the result of international agreements. Its independence is a formality which doesn't confer real powers. As crisis manager together with the Nato mission Kfor, Eulex ( the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo) is ensuring that the crisis in Kosovo continues but doesn't explode. The international administrators will prevent any violent attempt to seize power and thus ensure that the crisis continues." (29/01/2015)

Sega - Bulgaria

Monitoring report on Bulgaria far too lenient

The EU Commission presented its monitoring report on Bulgaria on Wednesday. The daily Sega finds it disappointingly innocuous: "This year's monitoring report will be remembered for taking a load off the minds of Bulgaria's politicians. ... Our politicians were trembling over rumours that Bulgaria would be separated from Romania as a hopeless case. But the new EU Commission under Jean-Claude Juncker decided to adopt a friendly tone in its first monitoring report. ... To avoid mocking accusations that it is being too lenient with naughty pupil Bulgaria, Brussels has merely ordered it to write an essay on 'Why I am naughty' and read it in front of the whole class." (28/01/2015)


For Vuk Perišić there is no nation but only citizens

The conflict between citizenship and national affiliation has been the source of enduring conflict and war in the Balkans. Columnist Vuk Perišić calls for ethnic affiliation to be dropped as part of a state's self-description: "Croatia for example would then define itself exclusively as the state of all its citizens, and not - as is written in the preamble to its constitution - as 'a nation state of the Croatian people and the affiliated national minorities'. This ethnic definition of a state is pure discrimination because it raises a legally vague category like 'nation' (which rests on emotional assumptions) to the status of a category that divides citizens along majority - minority lines. This, however, is diametrically opposed to democracy, the rule of law and the basic moral values of modern civilisation. ... For ethnic Serbs, Italians or Bosnians to really feel like Croatian citizens in Croatia, the ethnic Croats would have to see themselves exclusively as Croatian citizens. That would be a win-win situation with no losers. Only the nationalists would be dissatisfied, but so they should be in a civilised society and a democratic state." (28/01/2015)


Tages-Anzeiger - Suiza

Switzerland must agree on immigration with EU

Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga will travel to Brussels on Monday for discussions with EU leaders. The topic: the limit on immigration recently approved by referendum. The left-liberal daily Tages-Anzeiger hopes that all sides will take an open-minded approach: "The combination of a rising franc and uncertainty about the future of bilateral agreements [between the EU and Switzerland] is a dangerous mix. What international companies will want to invest their money here when the costs are rising so dramatically and it's unclear whether qualified employees can be recruited abroad? The Federal Council gave us a taste of things to come at the end of last year when it lowered the contingent for third country nationals to 6,500 per year: allocation disputes and the shifting of jobs abroad are the likely result. Clearly, the goal must be to get the most out of the negotiations with the EU. But if at the same time people here at home are asking what should be done if the negotiations fail, this is not defeatism but foresight. And one option is definitely a new vote on restrictions to immigration." (29/01/2015)

Jornal de Negócios - Portugal

Why Portugal's economy lacks beacons of hope

Unfavourable general conditions and a lack of confidence in the future are making it hard for company owners in Portugal to develop their businesses, the liberal business daily Jornal de Negócios complains: "One of the biggest enigmas in Portugal's economy is that there are barely any big companies with internationally established brands - and also a certain tendency on the part of entrepreneurs to sell on the first offer. ... This raises the following question: What factors are making it more profitable to sell a company than to invest in its development and growth? ... The temptation is great to say: instability, distrust of the institutional framework and a lack of faith in Portugal as a place where companies can grow and develop." (28/01/2015)


Le Soir - Bélgica

Parties shouldn't forget young Belgians

Young Francophone Belgians take a very pessimistic view of society's future, according to a study published by the liberal daily Le Soir. The traditional parties must address young people if they don't want to get left behind by radical movements, the paper comments: "It's difficult to reinvent yourself, it's complicated to admit that you can't take care of everything and to break the mould of the permanent election campaign. But that's just what it will take to regain the trust of a youth that's asking itself what future it has. One gets the unpleasant feeling in Belgium that the ground is being prepared for the rise of a populist movement. ... One urgent message must be communicated to the youths who no longer believe in politics and the politicians who can no longer convince the youths: there's never an easy answer to complex problems." (28/01/2015)

Eesti Päevaleht - Estonia

Taxpayers must stand in for negligent fathers

The Estonian parliament on Tuesday charged the government with working out a draft law according to which the state would assume the costs of maintenance for children in cases where one of the parents refuses to pay. The liberal daily Eesti Päevaleht is surprised that the project had such a hard time making it through parliament: "The Reform Party was the one pulling the brakes. It doesn't want taxpayers to fork out money that negligent fathers should be paying. But this fails to take account of how difficult it is to collect child support payments. In practice it's not the irresponsible parents who suffer, but single parents and their children. No doubt a large number of taxpayers have nothing against their money being used for maintenance payments. And that way the state would have even more motivation to make sure it collects the money from recalcitrant parents." (29/01/2015)


Basler Zeitung - Suiza

Qatar's Handball Championship just PR stunt

The Men's Handball World Championship in Qatar doesn't bode well for the Football World Cup in 2022, the right-wing conservative Basler Zeitung comments, at the same time criticising the president of the International Handball Federation (IHF), Hassan Moustafa: "Even after the [German daily] taz revealed a week ago that 680 of the 1711 journalists present at the championship had been invited by the IHF and that spectators were rewarded for attending the games, this did nothing to diminish Moustafa's popularity. Nor did the fact that the Austrians were convinced that in the round before the quarter-finals the two referees influenced the results of the game in Qatar's favour. ... This gives the observer a bad feeling about the controversial football World Cup 2022. In addition to strengthening Moustafa's position the Handball World Championship in Qatar had another purpose. It is seen as the rehearsal for the Football World Cup, as a strange PR campaign for King Football. But there were traffic jams in the desert even during the Handball Championship, which meant that the shuttle services didn't work smoothly enough, and outside the three stadiums, which feature all kinds of extras, the range of activities on offer is limited." (29/01/2015)

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