European press review

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In Syria former UN secretary general Kofi Annan has brokered a plan to stop the fighting - but will it work? Spanish unions call a general strike. Ireland prepares to vote on another europact. How much privacy should Danish children have? And is the Pope's visit to Cuba a nail in the coffin of Marxism?


Syrians have certainly been in dire need of good news, but not everyone agrees that the Annan plan will end the crackdown on opponents by President Bashar Al-Assad's security forces.

Italian daily La Stampa says the deal gives Assad the upper hand. He can now calmly turn his attention to political concerns. And his hand has been strengthened, because the plan does not include a demand for his resignation, the centre-left newspaper says. Ultimately all he has done is commit, and only on paper, to a few conditions that will let the United Nations play the role of credible mediator once more. Assad is buying time, and has achieved something that Moamer Kadhafi failed to do because Nato was pressuring him, the paper says.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Back in Europe, Spaniards staged a nationwide general strike this week.

El Pais says the strike came as Spain struggles to emerge from the debt crisis and that this is causing deep concern among its partners using the euro single currency.

The liberal daily says that the new government, only 100 days into its term, has done much to satisfy the demands of Brussels and to reassure the markets. Yet Spain has overtaken Italy and is now at the forefront of investor concerns.

Madrid is being torn by two conflicting claims - demands from people that jobs be created and demands from outside that the public deficit be slashed. Spain needs a compromise, a pact, that covers all the regions, with stabilisation measures and structural reforms, but with policies for much needed growth as well, the paper says.

The euro is also set to face a stern test from another quarter in coming months.

Irish voters are going to the polls on 31 May for a referendum on the pact aimed at avoiding future euro crises and all bets are off.

Ireland has rejected EU referendums in the past, and the Irish Times says this next vote raises a series of tough questions.

Supporters need to explain why the pact is needed for the euro to surive and for Ireland to remain a full participant in its governance. Debate must not be hijacked by domestic issues, the centre-left daily warns.

Meanwhile, opponents must come up with an alternative vision if the treaty is rejected, because that would leave Ireland adrift from an ever more integrating eurozone and from Britain as it floats off from the EU. What should Ireland do then, the paper wonders? Ireland faces a difficult and fateful political choice, voters deserve a well informed and responsible campaign, the daily says.

In Denmark, the right of children to privacy have been under the microscope in the press this week.

The Jyllands-Posten newspaper looks at the growing number of Danish parents who are using mobile phones and other devices to keep a close eye on their children.

Taking care of your kids and providing them with a sense of security is a major role for any parent, the conservative daily says. Too many children grow up without it. But new technologies for use in surveillance are turning loving parental care into an uncomfortable, suffocating embrace. As they grow, teenagers have a right to privacy and this kind of monitoring infringes on that right.

The new tendency to monitor kids around the clock in the name of keeping them safe is not only wrong, it's offensive, the paper says.

And we end this week with another headline maker, the Pope's visit to Cuba.

Pope Benedict's trip to the island was seen by much of the press as marking a nail in the coffin of Marxism.

Austria's Die Presse says the Pope essentially told Raul Castro that communism is out of step with reality.

Indeed, he essentially paid a visit to a doctrine on its deathbed, the centre-right daily says. It meant that his tour was a victory for Roman Catholicism.

But it wonders just how much Catholic doctrine corresponds to reality. A growing number of Europeans are asking themselves that question, the paper says, and people in Latin America may soon be doing the same.

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