Przegląd prasy | 20/08/2014



Merkel to mediate in Kiev


German Chancellor Angela Merkel will travel to Kiev on Saturday to discuss a solution to the Ukraine crisis with President Petro Poroshenko. Commentators praise this step as evidence of Germany adopting a more aggressive role in foreign policy, but warn that Merkel should not confine diplomatic talks to the Ukrainian leadership.

Berliner Zeitung - Niemcy

Merkel's next destination should be Moscow

The German chancellor must not be taken in by the Ukrainian government's manoeuvring, the left-liberal daily Berliner Zeitung warns: "Otherwise she would jeopardise Germany's role as the most important mediator in this crisis, listened to in both Kiev and Moscow and currently able to get the opposing sides to sit down at a table. If Poroshenko and his people get the idea of confronting Merkel with a demand for weapons deliveries they will be disappointed. ... If the chancellor switches now from telephone diplomacy to travelling diplomacy, after visits to Riga and Kiev the next destination would be clear: Moscow. Beyond all the heated debates about arms deliveries and military operations, in these weeks the German government is showing what it means to assume major international responsibility: diplomatic leadership and crisis management." (20/08/2014)

Diário Económico - Portugalia

Putin underestimated German chancellor

With her position on the Ukraine crisis and her sanction policy Angela Merkel has proven that she's willing to pay for stability, the liberal business daily Diário Económico comments: "[Putin] badly miscalculated the mood and determination of Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, over the current crisis in Ukraine. ... Mr Putin had expected the German Chancellor to resist taking any action that would seriously affect German exporters. He was wrong. The sanctions package was driven by Berlin. Central to German policy, led by Ms Merkel and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, foreign minister, was determination to maintain a united European front. ... Indeed, the Ukraine crisis accelerated a rethinking of German foreign policy. ... In this case that means maintaining a steady stance against unilaterally altering agreed international borders, even if it means paying an economic price." (19/08/2014)

Super Express - Polska

Poland once again sacrificed for Russia

Merkel on the weekend rejected proposals for the permanent stationing of soldiers in the Baltic states, referring to the Nato-Russia Founding Act of 1997 in which the Alliance agreed to limit troop deployments in the region. The conservative tabloid Super Express is nagged by age-old fears: "For Merkel Putin is more important than the EU, of which Germany is a member. ... It's clear that we're being sold yet again - this time in the name of the economic and political interests of Germany and Russia. For Poles that brings to mind traumatic experiences. Memories of the Second World War and the historical divisions of Poland should suffice here. This is both painful and frustrating. We're powerless and angry. Particularly because there's practically a war going on in Ukraine, our neighbour to the east." (20/08/2014)

Die Presse - Austria

Time to monitor the Russia-Ukraine border

The lack of Ukrainian supervision of its border with Russia lessens the chances of peace, the liberal-conservative daily Die Presse writes commenting on a Russian military convoy's crossing the border: "Since the start of the fighting it's become clear to everyone that the key to a de-escalation (or even to an end) of the conflict is effective border controls. For weeks this has been discussed at the meetings of the conflict parties - as recently in Berlin. But so far almost nothing has happened. The West's wishes have remained on paper. ... Western diplomats must once more push for a far-reaching observation mission. Kiev supports this. Even Moscow should be interested: Ukrainian accusations about artillery fire from the Russian side could finally be verified. If it turns out to be true that the separatists are not in fact receiving Russian aid, there's nothing to be feared from observers. There's only one reason for Moscow to reject controls: it has something to hide." (20/08/2014)


Financial Times - Wielka Brytania

Arab world must fight IS

Only if Iraq's neighbouring states lead the fight against the Islamic State (IS) can its militias be driven back, political analyst Shashank Joshi writes in the conservative daily Financial Times: "The Arab world has failed to come to terms with the most grievous threat it has faced since Saddam Hussein led Iraq's invasion of Kuwait two decades ago. It has preferred to ride on the coat-tails of outsiders while castigating western 'inaction'. It is time for the Arab world, and neighbours such as Turkey, to act. ... Minimising the western role would deprive Isis of its most potent means of recruitment. US drone strikes in Yemen, for instance, may have swelled the numbers of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, who were able to claim 'defensive jihad'. An Arab spearhead in Iraq would cut through this flimsy claim." (19/08/2014)

taz - Niemcy

Take the conflict parties in Gaza to task

Hamas once again fired missiles at Israel on Tuesday, before the extended ceasefire officially ended. Israel retaliated with airstrikes and pulled its delegation out of the Cairo truce talks. The negotiations will remain fruitless as long as the violence continues, the left-leaning daily taz writes, and criticises Palestinian support for Hamas: "The Palestinians bear the greatest responsibility for their fate, because they were the ones who elected Hamas. And worse still, today the Islamists enjoy widespread support in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. ... Hamas no more came into being overnight than the Gaza blockade is a product of a Zionist persecution complex. There are good reasons for Israel blocking maritime access and only opening the borders to travellers under exceptional circumstances. And the same goes for Egypt's blockade. Yes, the blockade must come to an end. But it's not too much to demand that the violence should cease." (19/08/2014)

Hospodářské noviny - Czechy

EU commissioner for migration no use

The new European Commission under Jean-Claude Juncker may also include a commissioner for migration affairs for the first time, according to media reports. The liberal business daily Hospodářské noviny doubts this new post will solve the problem: "Immigration is a pan-European problem, or at least one in all EU states. It is an urgent problem - and this will remain the case as long as the gaping disparities between living standards in Africa, Asia and Europe remain. Appointing a commissioner to deal with this issue only makes sense if all the states start to perceive migration as a common problem. An agreement must be drawn up between the countries where these people arrive, like Italy, Greece and Spain, and the other countries that are supposed to take them in. Until such an agreement exists a commissioner for migration remains nothing but a decorative function." (20/08/2014)


Taraf - Turcja

Mücahit Bilici on Muslims' reservations about democracy

The Muslim world only has a difficult relationship with democracy because it has never tested how compatible this form of government is with its religion, the US sociologist Mücahit Bilici writes in the liberal daily Taraf: "If there is one form of government that really fits in Sharia and Islam, it is democracy. So how to explain the Muslims' critical or hesitant attitude to democracy? Muslims can only observe democracy as a form of government based on examples provided by non-Muslims, hence they fail to consider it independently of this foreign context. ...  This attitude of some Muslims to democracy is similar to the attitude of Islam to science a century ago. Back then it was based on the assumption that modern science runs contrary to Islam and alienates man from religion. That's why they believed it was necessary to separate Islam and the Muslim identity from modern education. ... It took a while for Muslims to learn that science is not an ideology in itself, but an instrument that can be used by different systems of values. Now we're seeing the same thing in the relationship between the Sharia and democracy." (20/08/2014)

La Repubblica - Włochy

Giovanni di Lorenzo demands real reforms in Italy

Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi must finally combat the crisis with real reforms, Giovanni di Lorenzo, editor-in-chief of the German weekly Die Zeit, urges in the left-liberal daily La Repubblica, arguing that there's no point always seeking to lay the blame elsewhere: "The Italian approach is seen as regrettable in the German chancellor's circles. Because now Renzi too is starting to adopt the rhetoric about an 'evil Europe' that doesn't let Italy do what's best for it. ... Berlin is all too familiar with this tone, and is wondering why other countries like Ireland, Spain and Greece are mastering the crisis with tough reforms but Italy can't. ... Now all the old prejudices [about Italy] are being revived. ... In Berlin they say that Italy is right to demand as much solidarity as possible from its EU partners - particularly Germany - but that it shouldn't yet again seek the cause of its problems elsewhere rather than at home." (20/08/2014)


ABC - Hiszpania

Investors trust Spain's recovery

Spain accrued around 4.5 billion euros at good conditions on the primary market on Tuesday. Investors' trust in Spanish government bonds remains strong despite the shaky recovery in the Eurozone, the conservative daily ABC notes with relief: "The low interest rates and high demand for Spanish bonds are further indications of Spain's solvency. ... The investors' confidence in Spain is due to the correction of the structural problems that accumulated during the real estate boom, the reform of the financial system, enhanced competitiveness and the reduction in the deficit. But the improved economic outlook compared to other Eurozone countries is also helping. ... However even thought the interest rates are at next to nothing at present, the sovereign debt must be reduced without delay because it poses the biggest risk to recovery." (20/08/2014)


L'Opinion - Francja

Veils on the beach not the state's problem

The conservative French MEP Nadine Morano on Monday published a photo of a fully-dressed and veiled woman on a French beach on her Facebook page, calling the woman's behaviour a violation of French culture. That's going too far, the liberal business paper L'Opinion believes: "Because in stigmatising behaviour that's legal, you undermine the efforts to punish things that are really against French law - the forced marriage of minors, religious marriages without a civil ceremony, etc. And also because it's not the veil or headscarf that's the problem, but the fact that Muslim women aren't free to choose whether they wear one or not. It's correct to ban headscarves in schools - just like other ostentatious religious symbols - because minors don't have the necessary maturity to decide whether they want to wear them or not. The role of the state and politicians is to enforce law and order, not to tell people how to dress." (19/08/2014)

Magyar Nemzet - Węgry

Hungary made history 25 years ago

The so-called Pan-European Picnic was commemorated on Tuesday in the town of Sopronpuszta on the border between Hungary and Austria. Thanks to the celebrations that took place there 25 years ago and the temporary opening of the border, around 600 East German citizens were able to flee to the West. The conservative daily Magyar Nemzet points out that Hungary made history at the time: "With the border opening, Hungary significantly changed the course of history. This gesture on Hungary's part not only hastened the fall of the Berlin Wall, but also German unification. German politicians still express their gratitude to Hungary to this day. ... Back then, welcoming East German refugees was not 'only' a humanitarian action, but also a decision on values. With this historic step, Hungary put an end to its solidarity with Moscow and the Eastern Bloc and announced to all the world where it wanted to return to: to the West, to Europe." (20/08/2014)

Duma - Bułgaria

Bulgaria's doctors want more than a pittance

According to a recent survey, 96 percent of young Bulgarian doctors plan to leave their country to look for better-paid jobs abroad. For the socialist daily Duma one measure above all others can prevent a shortage of doctors: "To stop all the young doctors from leaving Bulgaria, their salaries must be raised. Not tomorrow or the day after, but now. As long as the average monthly wage in the health sector remains 846 leva [423 euros] - doctors in other EU countries earn 7,000 euros or more per month - there's no way to stop doctors from emigrating. ... It's understandable that young specialists don't want to work for a pittance. That's why any discussion about a healthcare reform should wait until salaries have been raised. Because what's the point of introducing a reform if all the doctors have left?" (20/08/2014)

Tages-Anzeiger - Szwajcaria

Obama doing too little to combat racism

As the protests and unrest continue in the US town of Ferguson, the daily Tages-Anzeiger writes that Barack Obama, as the first black US president, is doing too little to fight racism: "Obama has had a couple of small victories, but from the point of view of his voters he too seldom makes the point that even an impartial state must support certain sections of the population when they are as chronically disadvantaged as the blacks. ... For some time now there has even been a debate about whether the blacks don't already receive enough support, for instance through easier access to universities, and whether this policy doesn't discriminate against the whites and put them at a disadvantage. As recently as last April the Supreme Court, the highest court in the country, upheld a Michigan law that bans preferential treatment for minorities at universities. Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina on the judges' bench, condemned her colleagues' decision, saying that they were refusing to accept reality." (19/08/2014)

De Standaard - Belgia

Don't force teachers to conceal homosexuality

A teacher in Belgium has refused a job at an elementary school in Brussels because the principal asked him not to disclose his homosexuality. Such requirements only harm the schools' educational mandate, the liberal daily De Standaard criticises: "Schools have to give children the chance to expand their horizons and emancipate themselves through knowledge. They should enable children to express themselves and impart common norms, values and codes of conduct. But that will never happen if teachers are supposed to behave like clerks or tellers. Respect for all sexual orientations is important, even if it can cause problems. Because enforcing silence contradicts everything the schools stand for." (20/08/2014)