The Czech dailies pore over the results of this week's presidential election, the country's first direct presidential election. Miloš Zeman, a former prime minister, came first, though he was not standing for the party he led as prime minister, the Social Democrats. In the run-off on 26-27 January, he will face the current foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, who had at one stage been polling around 5%. The candidate of the largest governing party, the Civic Democrats (ODS), came eighth out of nine, with 2.5%. What explains the ODS's debacle? According to Mladá fronta Dnes, the ODS is blaming an amnesty made by outgoing President Václav Klaus, the media and the candidacy of Jan Fischer, who served as interim prime minister in 2009-10 and who was for a long time the frontrunner in the presidential election. Hospodářské noviny writes that the Social Democrats blame Zeman's entry for its fourth place. The paper also suggests that Schwarzenberg is favoured by businessmen over Zeman. Zeman is again showing his well-known prickliness: Lidové noviny writes that Zeman has said that he will not accept interviews with Slovak journalists after the Slovak daily Sme described him as the worst of the candidates for the Czech presidency.
Shots were fired at the Athens headquarters of New Democracy, the main party in Greece's coalition government, early this morning, Kathimerini's website states. A bullet was found in Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's office but no one was injured.
Slovenia's government is on the brink of collapse after a junior partner announced it would pull out of the ruling centre-right coalition, writes Delo. Janez Jan¹a, the prime minister, has come under pressure to resign following a report from an anti-corruption commission suggesting that he had not properly explained the provenance of certain assets. The commission made similar accusations against Zoran Jankoviæ, a millionaire businessman, leader of the opposition and mayor of Ljubljana, the capital.
“Secret help” is how Handelsblatt brands its story about Cyprus's banks. The paper says that with eurozone governments hesitating over whether to give financial assistance to the island's stricken banking sector, Cyprus's central bank has given loans of more than €10 billion. The paper says that this means that if the Cypriot state went bankrupt, the rest of the eurozone's central banks would have to foot the bill.
Robert Fico, Slovakia's centre-left prime minister, tells Austria's Die Presse that "irresponsible" eurozone economies should not be bailed out by more responsible countries and that Cyprus should provide information about alleged tax-dodgers if it wants a eurozone bail-out.
Le Figaro writes on France's military action in Mali which began this weekend, reporting that two French soldiers have been killed. The New York Times writes that France has begun attacking Islamist rebels in Mali after the US and other foreign powers hesitated for months to do something about the insurgency.
Le Monde also has continuing coverage of the Mali operation, reporting that the Economic Community of West African States is holding an extraordinary meeting today to discuss the situation.
Liberation outlines the reasons for the French invasion.
Handelsblatt says that the decision by François Hollande, the president of France, to intervene militarily in Mali puts pressure on Germany to do the same.
In the UK's Independent, a commentator argues that the price of the West's intervention in Libya is being paid in Mali.
Hungary's Népszabadság reports on the ongoing storm caused by an article by Zsolt Bayer, in which the a co-founder of the ruling Fidesz party wrote that a large number of Roma were “animals” and “unsuitable for coexistence, unsuitable for living among people”.
Die Welt reports that targets set by the EU on climate change are likely to make cars more expensive. The paper says that proposed new regulations would mean manufacturers have to pay an extra €1,000 per car.
“It does not really matter if Britain leaves”, is the headline of a commentary in the Financial Times. The idea of the UK at the heart of the EU is bizarre, its author writes. The political editor of the Sun calls on Prime Minister David Cameron to “ignore [the] ghosts of Eurolovers, Dave...be tough with Brussels”. The greatest threat to an acceptable British outcome is half-hearted and indecisive leadership, he writes. A commentator in the Guardian approaches the UK's relationship with Europe from a very different angle, arguing that the battle against cybercrime is too important to be undone by Eurosceptics. If they come under attack from hackers, Eurosceptics will come to regret their opposition to Europol's Cybercrime Centre, he writes.
Die Welt carries an opinion piece lamenting the decline of Europe's power compared with the rise of other parts of the world since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
An opinion piece in the Washington Post says that Barack Obama's foreign policy is not a sign of American decline or retreat but of realism.
The Daily Star, published in Beirut, writes that a single attack by government forces left 34 people, including several children, dead in a suburb of Damascus.