Historic EU COVID recovery fund deal; Turkey and Greece Aegean dispute

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:

How will the EU coronavirus recovery fund work and are there winners and losers?

How it's going to work? Hundreds of billions of euros being distributed between, its collective redistribution from wealthy countries to poor countries. And that money has been now unanimous agreement between all 27 members of the European Union. Not 28, the Brits are no longer a part of the table. And it's historic. It's by far the biggest political success that we've seen anywhere around the world in providing real multilateral leadership to help make it easier for those countries that are suffering the most. In the case of Europe, that means the poorer countries that don't have the ability to bail out their devastated economies. Again, you are seeing double digit contractions across Europe economically this year. Now you're seeing hundreds of billions of euros, half of that will be grants, don't need to pay back, half will be loans. That was a big part of the of the debate, of the controversy.


And who's it going to go to? It's going to go to the southern Europeans, like Italy, like Spain. It's going to go to the Eastern Europeans. And part of that, that's where you have some of the problems that some of those East Europeans do not actually support. All of the mandated rule of law, independent judiciary that you're supposed to, to be a part of the EU, the EU has not been able to sanction them. Countries like Hungary and Poland precisely because you need unanimity to do so and it's hard to get unanimity. Some of the wealthier countries are saying, "well, we're not going to give that money unless we can ensure that everybody that gets it actually is aligned politically." Well, that didn't work. So, countries like Poland and Hungary will continue to have their political systems diverge from those of the west and the north. That's bad for Europe long term, but for the short term, Euroscepticism is actually on the decline, not on the rise, because even if you're a Eurosceptic in a country like Italy or Greece or Hungary, if they're saying they're going to give you money to help bail you out, mutualized debt, something that no one thought could have happened before the pandemic, you're reasonably happy with that. I mean, you know, you're not going to give up free money. That's how I like Ayn Rand Institute accepting cash from the US government. You know, I mean, you read "Atlas Shrugged." I mean, I suppose, though, it was horrible, but that doesn't mean you won't take free money from the government. That's just your ideology. Who cares about that?

What is going on with Turkey and Greece in the Aegean Sea?

Well, the Turkish government is now sending a bunch of military vessels, looks like towards this Greek economic exclusion zone, which is where the Greeks are saying they have the right to exploit resources in the Aegean Sea. The Turks are contesting that. It's kind of like the dispute you've seen in the South China Sea, where the international community clearly supports one set of norms in the fishing and mineral rights that are off of countries borders. But the more powerful country militarily in the region, China, is trying to subvert that. That is what we are potentially now seeing with Turkey and the Greeks. With the Turks saying they have the right to exploit and providing licenses for doing so and suddenly a bunch of military ships showing up. Very interesting because Greece and Turkey are both NATO allies. The Americans are supporting the Greeks, as the international community broadly does here, in terms of their definition of what their territoriality actually implies, where it expands to. But that doesn't mean the Turks are going to listen. And the fact there's been a bit of a bromance between President Trump and Turkish President Erdogan complicates this. So, we should watch this very closely. Big win for the Greeks in terms of the EU deal, potentially big problems in terms of the fight with Turkey.

Finally, is Russian influence in UK politics really the "new normal?"

I'm going to say no. I think people continue to exaggerate what the Russians are actually able to accomplish. It is true that they provided lots of disinformation and certainly weren't saying, they weren't open about it, they weren't saying "this is coming from Russia." It wasn't state propaganda. It was pretending to be local actors with the Brexit referendum, with the Scottish independence referendum, and of course, in the United States with the US elections. But the amount of money is relatively limited. And the outcomes, I would argue, are much more divisive because of problems in these countries themselves. The Russians tried to have that same kind of impact on the German elections and it failed. Why did it fail? Because the German people were generally happier with their social contract, generally weren't prepared to listen to crazy extremist conspiracy theories. In the US, in the UK, where lots of people increasingly feel like their own systems are delegitimized and rigged, they're more willing to listen to wackos. And so, they're more susceptible to delegitimization efforts, whether they're domestic or international. So, if you really want to fix this, I mean, yes, the US needs to respond and show that if the Russians hit us on cyber, we're going to hit them on cyber. That tit for tat is completely understandable and appropriate. But you're not going to fix the problem until you actually build your own resilience at home and that's what we need to be doing. Certainly true for the UK.

Visit Microsoft on The Issues for a front-row seat to see how Microsoft is thinking about the future of sustainability, accessibility, cybersecurity and more. Check back regularly to watch videos, and read blogs and feature stories to see how Microsoft is approaching the issues that matter most. For the latest, visit Microsoft on the Issues.

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus, Delta variant woes, and Lebanon one year after the Beirut blast.

An Olympian refuses to return home to Belarus and an anti-Lukashenko activist has been found dead in Ukraine. What's going on?

Yeah. That anti-Lukashenko activist was found hanged in a park in Kiev. Once again, not exactly likely a suicide. These anti-Lukashenko activists have a way of turning up injured or dead. It's a horrible regime. Their friends are limited largely to the Russians. That's about it. The economic pressure is growing from Europe, from the United States, very coordinated. But the problem is a very hard to do much to Lukashenko when he has not only support of his military, but also the support of most of the workers in the country who aren't prepared to strike because they want to ensure they still have jobs. I expect this is going to continue, but human rights abuses are stacking up. It is nice to see that the Americans and the Europeans are coordinating policy as well as they have been.

More Show less

It's been 365 days since twin blasts at a Beirut port decimated Lebanon's capital. More than 200 people were killed and some 7,000 were injured, yet accountability has been scarce. There is ample evidence that multiple Lebanese officials knew that ammonium nitrate was being improperly stored at the port. Four high-ranking politicians, including former PM Hassan Diab, have been charged by a Lebanese judge, but they all refuse to cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

Since then, Lebanon's already-dire economic and financial crises have only intensified. The Lebanese pound, the national currency, has plummeted, losing 90 percent of its value since 2019, when the country's economic crisis erupted. And more than 50 percent of the population is now living below the poverty line.

More Show less

The Biden administration is finally devoting more attention to Southeast Asia. Last week US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin traveled to Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines, marking the first regional visit by a Biden cabinet official. A trip by Vice President Kamala Harris is already in the works as well, and this week Secretary of State Tony Blinken will meet (virtually) with ASEAN counterparts.

The flurry of activity comes after earlier concerns that President Joe Biden was neglecting Southeast Asia, the region where US-China rivalry is the most intense. To understand better what Austin's visit meant, and what comes next, Eurasia Group's lead Southeast Asia analyst Peter Mumford spoke to us from Singapore.

More Show less

Raisi won't have it easy: The newly "elected" president of Iran, Ibrahim Raisi, was officially endorsed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Tuesday. In his inaugural address, the 60-year-old hardliner pledged to get US sanctions removed and to respond to rising socioeconomic grievances within Iran, but he warned that he wouldn't lash Iran's prosperity or survival to "the will of foreigners." In Iran, the president's role focuses mainly on domestic policy, but with the economy reeling one of Raisi's big early challenges will be to continue complicated talks with the Biden administration to renegotiate the 2015 nuclear deal, which would lead to the US lifting some of the harshest sanctions. Both sides say they want a new deal, and have gone through half a dozen rounds of negotiations already, but they remain at odds over who should make what concessions first. Raisi also pledged to restore Iranians' flagging trust in their government and to improve the economic situation, but in ways that are in line with "revolutionary principles." He'll have his hands full with that. And don't forget that the likely imminent (re)takeover of neighboring Afghanistan by the Taliban — whom Tehran don't like at all — will also occur on Raisi's watch. Good luck, Mr. President, you'll need it.

More Show less

158: To boost vaccination rates, New York City will soon require proof of COVID vaccination or a negative test to enter gyms and restaurants, as daily new infections in the Big Apple have jumped 158 percent over the past two weeks due to the more contagious delta variant. New York is the first major US city to take this step, following similar schemes already in place in France and Italy.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal