ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 29/07/2019

BBC / Talks held in Vienna to salvage Iran nuclear deal

  • Talks to try to save the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) were held yesterday in Vienna amid rising tensions over tankers in the Gulf. After meeting officials from Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said the atmosphere had been “constructive”.
  • Arriving at the meeting, Araghchi said he considered the UK’s seizure of an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar to be in breach of the JCPOA, and Iran also described as “provocative” British proposals for a European-led mission to escort tankers through the Strait of Hormuz.
  • London alleged the Iranian oil tanker was carrying oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions, a claim denied by Iran. Several days later the British-flagged Stena Impero was impounded by Iran, which said it had been “violating international maritime rules”.
  • Britain sent a second warship on Sunday to escort its ships sailing through the Strait of Hormuz.

Euractiv / Assuming EU will not budge, Britain ramps up preparations for no-deal Brexit

  • Leading Brexit supporter Michael Gove, who British PM Boris Johnson has put in charge of “no deal” preparations, wrote in the Sunday Times newspaper that the government would undertake “intensive efforts” to secure a better deal from the EU. However, “planning for no deal is now this government’s no. 1 priority,” he said, adding “every penny needed” for no deal preparations would be made available.
  • Johnson has set up a “war cabinet” of six senior ministers to make decisions on Brexit and is preparing for a no-deal emergency budget in the week of 7 October, the newspaper added.
  • Although Johnson has been adamant he will not hold an election before Brexit, his Conservative Party does not have a majority in parliament, is divided over Brexit and under threat of a no-confidence vote when parliament returns in September.
  • Speculation of an early election to break the deadlock is likely to be fuelled by a YouGov opinion poll in the Sunday Times, which showed the Conservatives had opened up a 10-point lead over Labour since Johnson took over.

The Economist / Partnership is much better for China than it is for Russia

  • Though the burgeoning China-Russia alliance has left America out in the cold, the price of this strategic maneuver is falling chiefly on Russia. China dominates every aspect of the two countries’ partnership, and Russia is evolving into a Chinese tributary.
  • China is a vital market for Russian raw materials, the yuan is becoming a bigger part of Russia’s foreign-currency reserves, Beijing supplies vital components for Russia’s advanced weapons systems, and China is the source of the networking and security gear that President Putin needs to control his people.
  • America does not suffer from the Xi-Putin alignment today as it would have done in the Cold War. Although Russia and China do indeed undermine the West’s notion of universal values, with President Donald Trump in the White House that doctrine is hardly being applied universally in any case.
  • Rather than railing against Russia or trying to woo it back, the West should point out its subordination and wait. Sooner or later, a President Alexei Navalny or someone like him will look westwards once again. That is when Russia will most need Western help.

Financial Times – The Editorial Board / Spain’s political gridlock is stalling further reform

  • Two unsuccessful confidence votes last week give PSOE’s Pedro Sánchez until September 23 to form a government in Spain. If this deadline is missed Spain will go back to the polls in November marking the fourth general election since 2015. This should be avoided.
  • Catalonia’s illegal independence referendum in 2017 has increased political polarization in Spain, which was already high. Without this issue, where Ciudadanos adopted a hard stance and pivoted to the right, common ground in Spanish politics would be easier to achieve.
  • Spain’s economy is growing faster than the eurozone average, at a projected 2.3 per cent this year, but for this outperformance to be maintained pro-business reforms must continue.
  • Ciudadanos should rethink its opposition to a coalition. An agreement would give Sánchez a stable majority and the country the government it needs. If a new coalition were to proceed with political reform by allowing greater regional autonomy, while keeping the sovereignty of the Spanish state intact, tensions over Catalan independence might dissipate.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.

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