European press review
We start with the European Union sanctions against Iran aimed at forcing it to stop its suspect nuclear activities. It was the first time the EU has used an oil embargo, and the move made headlines across the continent this week.
Germany’s Der Spiegel notes that Europe has finally got out the oil weapon. The 27 nations will stop imports from Iran by July.
This gives dependent countries like Greece, Italy and Spain time to find alternative supplies. But the centre-left news weekly reports that Iran is preparing to halt all oil deliveries to Europe first.
A bill in this sense could become law by next week. Greece relies on Iran for around a third of its oil needs. Italy for 13 per cent. And the two are already in enough economic strife, without adding an oil shortage to their woes.
Spiegel underlines that it’s unclear whether the sanctions will even work. Most Iranian exports go to Asia, and none of the countries there are joining the embargo.
The best hope, it says, is when Iran elects a new president next year. But hope is the key word. The West should not bank on a change of policy.
Another story in the papers this week was the elections in Egypt. The polls saw Islamist parties win nearly three-quarters of the seats in parliament.
In Sweden, Dagens Nyheter warns the EU and the United States to keep an eye on developments in Egypt in the wake of the elections, one year on from the start of the revolution that brought down Hosni Mubarak.
If the general direction of policies introduced by the Islamists is the right one, then support should continue, the liberal daily says. But the fact that only two per cent of the new parliamentarians are women is cause for concern.
Human, political and religious rights are the fundamental building blocks of democracy, the paper says. It warns that the army must be brought under civilian control as soon as possible. Most of all, Egypt must stick to the course it has begun to charter.
Another event making headlines was the vote by the French senate to make it a crime to deny the genocide of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks.
Czech newspaper Lidove Noviny says the vote was an unnecessary provocation. This shows that France is not a major power, the conservative daily says, because a truly great power would not make foreign policy based on domestic considerations, like the upcoming elections this year.
Europe needs balanced relations with Turkey, not moody decisions that are in turn met with moody reactions. France rejects Turkish membership of the European Union, but Turkey is a strategically important country. Making laws that moralise might prove very costly, the paper says.
Newspapers have also been reporting on the European Union’s 28th member.
The people of Croatia have voted to join Europe’s elite club, but a record abstention rate in the referendum on entry is raising doubts about the depth of commitment to the project.
The daily Novi List welcomes the result, and says it came despite the efforts of EU opponents to scare many voters. But the centre-left newspaper’s editorialist warns people not to be naïve.
As the economic crisis shows, the EU is not the remedy to all ills, and Croatia will not become a land of plenty overnight. Croatia will have to find its place, and in the meantime there will be conflicts, because the Union and membership of it, is fertile soil for eurosceptics, the paper says.
Nevertheless, Europe is no threat to the country’s sovereignty, and membership will bring many benefits.
And we end with a look at the European film industry, which comes just as the Oscar nominees were announced this week.
Portugal’s daily Publico pays tribute to films from Denmark, where despite cuts to culture budgets, the industry is thriving. This is due to a strong policy on grants and support for young movie makers, the liberal newspaper says. It’s all about youth.
As far back as the 1980s, laws ensured that at least of a quarter of the annual film funding budget went on productions and activities that targeted young people.
The Danish state is now supporting around 25 feature films a year and 30 documentaries. It also injects cash into the national film school. Movies are even studied by children.
This approach means that the next Lars Von Trier might be just around the corner.
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