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The paper clip, 6 April

Friday 6 April 2012

The city of Sarajevo will today place 11,541 empty chairs along the city centre's main road in memory of the people who lost their lives in a 1,425-day siege which began 20 years ago, writes Dnevni avaz. Two decades on, Bosnia's war crimes should haunt Europe, a commentator in the UK's Independent writes, denouncing a culture of denial.

The transformation of Italian politics continues: Umberto Bossi, the founder and leader of Italy's Northern League, has resigned after a 30-year political career as a party funding scandal raised questions about his judgment and probity. La Stampa, Corriere della Sera and the UK's Guardian have more. In an interview with La Repubblica, Bossi accuses the current government and the banks which (he claims) back it of having orchestrated a campaign against him.

Spain's El Mundo writes that the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), has declared the north of Mali “the independent state of Azawad”. In a communication sent out by the leader of the Tuareg rebel movement, Bilal Ag al-Sharif, he calls on neighbouring countries to respect the borders of the region. In the communication, al-Sharif, also says that the MNLA adhering to international laws in establishing the new state and that the group will work to establish security and democratic institutions, including a constitution, for the 850,000 km2 large area.

Le Figaro, like all the papers, has the latest on the French presidential election. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose ratings have risen recently, on Thursday presented a 32-page “letter to the French people” in which he promised to balance the country's budget.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, has accused Iran of dishonesty ahead of nuclear talks with the international community that are supposed to take place next week, Today's Zaman reports. Iran, in an apparent U-turn, now rejects Istanbul as the venue for the talks, which are led by Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign policy chief, and is proposing Damascus or Baghdad instead. Erdogan said the proposal was a “waste of time”.

“Israel's dogs of war are straining at the leash” is the headline of an article in the UK's Daily Telegraph, which writes that an attack in September looks almost inevitable unless Tehran changes course.

The furore surrounding a poem by Günter Grass, one of Germany's most famous writers, continues to dominate the German press. Grass has said he has no intention of backing down over the content of the poem, which accuses Israel of planning an attack on Iran. Grass accuses his critics of using “Nazi-like” methods to discredit unpopular opinions. Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, has attacked Grass, saying: “Decent people across the world should condemn these ignorant and reprehensible utterances.” Frankfurter Allgemeine, Süddeutsche Zeitung and other newspapers report on the affairs.

Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany's finance minister, has accused the opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Greens of “cheap polemics” over a bilateral tax agreement with Switzerland. The SPD and Greens have said they will oppose the agreement in the Bundestag. Relations between the two countries have deteriorated since Switzerland issued arrest warrants for German tax officials for receiving stolen CDs containing details of German citizens' bank accounts in Switzerland.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that eggs contaminated with dioxins, a chemical that can cause cancer, have been found on sale despite the discovery of the contamination two days ago at a farm in North Rhine-Westphalia.

The Wall Street Journal writes that Egan-Jones, a ratings agency, has cut the credit rating of the US one notch to AA, the second downgrade in nine months and two notches below its highest grade, with a negative outlook citing the nation's increasing debt burden.

Viktor Yushchenko, a former president of Ukraine, faces investigation for his alleged involvement in unlawful activities of the Ukrainian United Energy Systems Company (UUES), Ukraine's prosecutor-general said yesterday. The Kyiv Post writes that the prosecutor-general also said that he is considering closing investigations into the poisoning of Yushchenko ahead of presidential elections in 2004. Separately, France has called on Ukraine to respect international law in new trial of Yulia Tymoshenko, for tax embezzlement. The former Ukrainian prime minister is serving a seven-year prison term for an energy deal that she struck with Russia while prime minister.

The Russian arms-dealer Viktor Bout has been sentenced to 25 years in a US jail, the Czech daily Lidové noviny and other papers report.

A prominent Russian journalist has become the latest reporter from Novaya Gazeta newspaper to be attacked. Yelena Milishina was beaten late last night by unknown assailants in the Moscow suburb.

Belarus's President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has promised to consider pardons for jailed opposition figures that the West considers political prisoners, the Washington Post reports.

Belarus is considering sending back its ambassadors to Warsaw and Brussels, Belorusskie Novosti reports. Belarus withdrew its ambassadors after the EU tightened sanctions on 27 February.

Italy's La Stampa has a report that looks at baby-trafficking from Bulgaria.

Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza reports that Russia is reducing supplies of gas to the Czech Republic.

Libération reports that the French high court is due to make a ruling in the case of the Erika oil tanker chartered by Total, which sank in December 1999, causing an oil spill.

The pro-independence first minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, faces accusations of “ignoring” majority support for an early independence referendum after it emerged he will not publish the results of his consultation on the ballot's rules until the autumn, the UK's Daily Telegraph writes.

Another part of the media empire of Rupert Murdoch, Sky TV, has admitted hacking into people's private data in pursuit of stories, the Guardian writes.

Russia wants to turn the exclave of Kaliningrad into a centre of car production, Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza writes.

Die Welt reports that Ferdinand Porsche, the designer of the classic 911 sports car, has died at the age of 76.


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