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Tuesday, 05 June 2012 09:04

Good Reads 05/06/12

Each week, two E&M editors share their favourite European reads. From blog posts to essays, it can be anything that amused them, worried them or got them thinking about Europe.

matt

Matt, Sixth Sense Editor

Günter Grass on Israel and Europe

Famed German author Günter Grass was banned from Israel a few months ago for writing a poem which attacked both Israel's policy towards Iran and Germany's plan to sell submarines to them. 'What must be said' remains an interesting case for what "can" and "can't" but should be said about Israel, Palestine, and Iran.

You may have missed a more recent publication by Grass called "Europe's shame" in the Suddeutsche Zeitung this month. Less opaque than "What must be said", I'll leave the interpretation of the poem in your hands. Here's a short description if you don't trust google translate. Let us hope his final line does not come to pass - "You will waste away spiritlessly without the country whose spirit, Europe, conceived you."

Grexodus

Grass brings me to the Grexodus (or more commonly termed the ‘Grexit’), and the words of the Ancient Greek tragedian Aeschylus have increasingly resonated in my thoughts. One quote from Agamemnon in particular seems to offer some insight into the current dilemma. Between sacrificing his daughter or failing in his deep (but also beneficial) commitments, Agammemnon, the ancient king of Mycenae, faces an impossible decision, "Pain both ways and what is worse? Desert the fleets, fail the alliance?" Anyway, the play is well worth a read. Equally, Germany's early speculative alternative to the austerity package and Grexit deserves a read.

Don't know your fiscal pact from your 'big bazooka'? Read this excellent and clear article from the European Council of Foreign Relations. Then tackle 'Europe after the Crisis' (Sorry, it's behind a paywall). Any student of Europe will know the name Moravcsik. I've never been a huge fan of his, but this article is one of the best I've read on the overarching problem inherent in the Eurozone. And this approach, a restatement of causes seems to me somewhat unhelpful when trying to figure out how to save (or otherwise dismantle) the Eurozone. Surely, we're past all of that pointing of fingers? At least in approach, this article seems to get it right, and by framing the problem as Saving the Euro without losing the Europeans is much more constructive.

Published in Good Reads

"What do I know about the euro crisis?", "What does the media tell me?", "Do I get the same view of the crisis if I read a German newspaper, listen to Rai Uno in Italy or just live in Greece?". At the Polis International Journalism Conference, a panel of four journalists tried to tackle these issues.

Early in 2010, the euro crisis began to make the headlines of all the major media outlets. A German weekly magazine had Aphrodite holding up her middle finger on the front cover. The title said, "Betrüger in der Euro-Familie" (Fraud in the euro family) and this is how reporting about the crisis started to take shape in Germany. The eurosceptical tone was continued "in a campaign of the biggest tabloid and newspaper, Bild Zeitung, which with over 10 milion readers has a huge impact on German politics," said Peter Heilbrunner, a former Brussels reporter and now a Business editor in Stuttgart.

Heilbrunner also spoke of a general state of confusion because Germans didn't really understand why there should be at least a bit of solidarity with the southern countries. "They said: our economy is working well; we pay our taxes so what is the problem in the rest of Europe? It was hard for Angela Merkel, for the whole government to explain it."

An anti-bail-out mood developed in the country and an aversion towards the southern countries was generated primarily by the media "because it transported these clichés: they spend a lot of money they don't have, they are not competitive, and they are more or less lazy,"he added.

Antonio Preziozi, currently the director of Rai Radio News and Rai Radio Uno in Italy, talked about an ideal type of media that they try to promote, "credible and reliable," with "in-depth coverage about the euro crisis." He also mentioned the importance of explaining the technicalities when it comes to reporting about the crisis, as their main goal is to inform the audience but not to influence it.

Published in E&M Reports
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