ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 07/12/2017

The Guardian—Helena Smith / Turkish president Erdoğan to make landmark visit to Greece

  • Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan begins today a landmark visit to Greece. This is the first official trip a Turkish head of state has made to Greece in 65 years.
  • The visit follows the arrests in Athens of nine Turkish nationals charged this week with being members of DHKP-C, a militant Marxist group that has claimed responsibility for suicide bombings in Turkey.
  • Recently, tensions between the two countries have resurfaced over Greece’s frontier role in the refugee crisis, failed talks to reunify Cyprus and, according to officials in Athens, Turkey’s repeated violations of Greek air and naval space in the Aegean. Erdoğan’s open questioning of the peace treaty which forged the boundaries of the two states in 1923 has exacerbated friction further.
  • But the Greeks are aware that they stand to benefit most if Ankara remains anchored to Europe. Western diplomats will be keen to see if Erdoğan uses Athens to issue yet another attack against the west, or chooses to exploit the visit to mend fences by exhibiting a more conciliatory tone.

Project Syndicate—Joseph S. Nye / Understanding the North Korea threat

  • The US has talked itself into Kim Jong-un’s trap of exaggerating how much power his rocketry gives him. After all, North Korea has had nuclear weapons for more than a decade; they could be delivered to US ports on its east or west coast by other means, such as in the hold of a freighter.
  • If all Kim wanted was security, we could leave him alone, perhaps sign a peace treaty, relax sanctions, and let economic growth change the regime over time, as in China.
  • But North Korea is not a status quo power and, if weakening the ties between the US and South Korea is central to Kim’s strategy, China’s “freeze-for-freeze” proposal plays into his hands.
  • The US could assure China of its limited goals and agree to coordinate its actions with the Chinese. In return, China could use its economic pressure and diplomacy to freeze the immediate threat posed by North Korean tests, without insisting on a freeze on US forces.
  • The prospects for a China-centered package are not high; but if it fails, the US should not panic. If it could deter a much stronger Soviet Union from taking an isolated West Berlin for three decades, it can deter North Korea.

Financial Times—Jonathan Wheatley / Sinopec sues as China loses patience with Venezuela

  • A US subsidiary of Sinopec, one of China’s biggest state-owned oil companies, is suing PDVSA, the Venezuelan state oil company, in a US court.
  • Sinopec is suing for $23.7m plus punitive damages over a May 2012 contract to supply steel rebar for $43.5m, half of which it says remains unpaid.
  • The amount at dispute is small, but the strong accusations made by Sinopec reveal a breakdown in China-Venezuela relations of a far greater order. “China has stopped rolling over Venezuela’s debts,” said Russ Dallen of boutique investment bank Caracas Capital. “They have lost faith.”
  • The only remaining external creditor apparently willing to support Caracas is Russia. Last month, just as Caracas was declaring default, it agreed to restructure $3.15bn of Venezuelan debt.

Bruegel—Zsolt Darvas / How the EU has become an immigration area

  • Following a slight increase in the rate of natural change (the balance of live births and deaths) in the late 2000s, it started to fall again and 2015 was the first year (at least since the first year of analysis, 1960) with a natural population decline in the EU28.
  • Net immigration from outside the EU28 shows an opposite development. It was close to zero from the 1960s to the mid-1980s and started to increase afterwards. Since 1992, net immigration to the EU has become a more important source of population growth than the natural change.
  • There is a natural population decline in many central and eastern and southern European countries and in Germany, while there is still significant natural population growth in – for example – Ireland, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Western and northern EU countries typically face net immigration, while there is net emigration from most central and eastern European countries.
  • France is the only EU country in which natural population increase was higher than net immigration in each year between 1963-2016.
  • Japan is truly unique. Population is on the decline, due to a natural decline and essentially zero net immigration. As a result, Japan’s population is expected to decline from 127 million in 2016 to 102 million by 2050, and even further later on.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. 

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