European press review
Voters go to the polls in France and Greece. Portugal 's attempts to get of debt flounder. Will Timoshenko's hunger strike lead to Euro 2012 cancellation? Can Afghan troops and police handle security on their own? And have you got your cannabis pass yet?
We start with the big election weekend in Europe, with the presidential vote in France, but also legislative polls in crisis-hit Greece.
This is sure to mean that the far right will win plenty of protest votes and gain even more legitimacy than it has already, the conservative daily says. The paper recalls that in times of economic crisis, democracy is threatened.
As an example, it points to the strong showing of the French Front National in the first round of the presidential election here. France, too, has legislative polls next month, and the far right's growing strength could be confirmed then. In Greece neo-Nazis may soon have seats in parliament, thanks in large part to the crisis, the paper warns.
The crisis is focusing the minds of voters in some countries, but in others, things are simply getting worse and there’s no election in sight.
Worst hit by the crisis are Greece, Spain, Italy, Ireland and Portugal.
According to Expresso, Portugal is just not emerging from its debt woes. International creditors may approve of the austerity measures the government is taking but the country will not be able to stand on its own feet next year, if the budgets for this year and last are anything to go by.
The liberal weekly says that 1,500 people join the dole queues each day, dozens of firms are going bankrupt, and tax revenues are plummeting. Meanwhile many Portuguese are emigrating in search of work. The only people who believe the country is on the right path are the people in government, Expresso says.
The hunger strike by former Ukraine premier Yulia Tymoshenko has also been making headlines.
Momentum has been gathering for a boycott of the Euro 2012 football championship in protest at the government's handling of the case. Pressure is growing on European football's governing body to cancel the event, set to start on 8 June.
Senior European officials and ministers, notably from Germany, are already refusing to travel to Ukraine. But Italy's Corriere della Sera fears that the boycott could back fire, and drive Ukraine into the arms of Russia.
Europe's geopolitical strategy is at stake, the centre-right daily says. Moscow wants Kiev's relations with the West to deteriorate to the point where Ukraine becomes a privileged partner of Russia, just like old times. Europe is doing the correct thing by recalling its values at this time, but it must strike the right balance between those values and playing into the hands of Vladimir Putin.
Afghanistan is on the front pages again this week. US President Barack Obama flew there on the anniversary of the killing of Osama Bin Laden to sign a partnership agreement with the Afghan president.
Obama's trip comes as the Americans and their allies look to draw down troops in Afghanistan after more than a decade of conflict. US combat forces will leave in 2014, but for Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter it is important that the United States and others stay long enough to complete the job.
The liberal daily says that Afghan soldiers can barely handle domestic security concerns on their own, and that they will need plenty of foreign money for a long time to come. On top of that, it is unlikely that the Taliban militia, which the international coalition ousted in 2001, can be kept out of power. Talks with the Taliban must continue and the Afghan government cannot be left to deal with the consequences on its own.
We end this week in the Netherlands, where a law has just come into force banning the sale of cannabis in coffee shops to foreigners.
Since 1 May the drugs may only be sold to Dutch residents with a cannabis pass.
For Belgium's Dutch language De Morgen newspaper, the law is a big step backwards. Governments in the Netherlands have always argued that legalising the sale of cannabis would allow the state to control production and the revenues that the drug earns.
But by excluding Belgian, French and German buyers, the state is driving the trade back underground, the liberal daily says.
Street dealers will be the ones to take advantage. Part of the problem is the drug policy of the Netherlands' neighbours. In Belgium for example, possession of small quantities of cannabis is legal, as long as it was bought elsewhere. Until this week, that elsewhere would have been the Netherlands, where a government once had the courage to admit that it's better to legalise the drug and control it, the paper says.