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Europe's rising COVID cases require new action; tragedy in France

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, with the view from Europe:

What is happening with COVID in Europe?

Well, we see infections on the rise virtually everywhere. It looks particularly bad at the moment in Czech Republic, in Belgium. Doesn't look good in France and Spain. Neither does it in the United Kingdom, by the way. But it has to be said, it's all over the place. So, we'll see new advice of a rather strong nature by authorities. We see regulation sometimes, we see restaurants closing down earlier, and things like that. Let's just hope for the best. So far, deaths are fairly limited so far.

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What We're Watching: Greek border wall, China’s economic rebound, US overtures to… Syria?

Build that wall... in Greece: The Greek government has finalized plans to build a wall along part of its eastern border with Turkey to prevent migrants from staging mass crossings to reach European Union territory. The move follows a March standoff between Athens and Ankara when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared he was "opening" the border because Turkey could no longer cope with so many migrants fleeing Syria. Since then, migrant flows via Turkey to the EU have declined dramatically due to the coronavirus pandemic and tougher policing, but Greeks and Turks (as always) remain at odds over what to do with the migrants: Greece wants Turkey to do more to stop migrants crossing, while Turkey says Greece is sending back migrants who arrive at Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. As the two sides continue to bicker over this issue — and over energy rights in the Eastern Mediterranean — the only thing that's clear is that Greece won't demand that Turkey pay for the wall.

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What We’re Watching: Protests meet Thai king, AMLO’s anti-corruption push under fire, Brexit mess continues

Thais "welcome" king back: Thousands of pro-democracy activists rallied across Bangkok on Wednesday as embattled King Maha Vajiralongkorn returned to Thailand after spending almost seven months amid a growing youth-led movement calling to reform the monarchy. Police pushed away protestors trying to confront the king's motorcade, while hundreds of royalist counter protesters cheered him on. Although violence was largely avoided, animosity is rising as some of the pro-democracy activists are now openly calling to go beyond reform and outright abolish the monarchy, normally a taboo topic in Thailand. They are fiercely opposed by the royalist camp, which controls the government and the security forces. We're keeping an eye on whether the king's physical presence in the country will encourage wider protests and put pressure on Thai Prime Minister — and 2014 coup leader — Prayuth Chan-ocha to crack down hard against the increasingly bold activists. (So far, he has banned public gatherings and arrested over 20 protesters).

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EU sanctions Lukashenko; Brexit deadline likely to be extended

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, with the view from Europe:

The EU has agreed to sanction Lukashenko. What now happens?

Well, that remains to be seen. But the EU has now decided, in a sort of strengthening of its position, to sanction also Lukashenko personally. What this will lead to remains to be seen. I think we'll have to wait for what happens. The Belarusian regime is obviously under quite a lot of pressure, but it is digging in. It can still rely on its very strong repressive forces. We're in this particular conflict for the long term. But the fact that the EU is stepping up the pressure is a good sign.

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PM Mitsotakis: Greece’s pandemic response improved its “brand” in the EU

Long derided as the European Union's "problem child" Greece has shown itself to be a model for pandemic response and economic recovery within theEuropean bloc. And as the EU enacts a massive economic bailout plan, one that Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis likens to the "Marshall plan" of the post WWII era, the leader of this Southern European nation thinks the future looks bright.

Watch the GZERO World episode: Greece's unlikely COVID success story: Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis

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