EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 26/03/2020

Financial Times – Mario Draghi / Draghi: we face a war against coronavirus and must mobilise accordingly

  • The coronavirus pandemic is a human tragedy of potentially biblical proportions. Many today are living in fear of their lives or mourning their loved ones. The actions being taken by governments to prevent our health systems from being overwhelmed are brave and necessary. They must be supported.
  • But those actions also come with a huge and unavoidable economic cost. While many face a loss of life, a great many more face a loss of livelihood. Day by day, the economic news is worsening. Companies face a loss of income across the whole economy. A great many are already downsizing and laying off workers. A deep recession is inevitable.
  • The challenge we face is how to act with sufficient strength and speed to prevent the recession from morphing into a prolonged depression, made deeper by a plethora of defaults leaving irreversible damage. It is already clear that the answer must involve a significant increase in public debt.
  • Faced with unforeseen circumstances, a change of mindset is as necessary in this crisis as it would be in times of war. The shock we are facing is not cyclical. The loss of income is not the fault of any of those who suffer from it. The cost of hesitation may be irreversible. The memory of the sufferings of Europeans in the 1920s is enough of a cautionary tale. 
  • Euractiv / Germans and Dutch set to block EU ‘corona bonds’ at video summit

Politico – Maïa de la Baume and Lili Bayer / Michel: EU leaders to consider ‘Marshall Plan’ for Europe

  • EU leaders will on Thursday discuss a “Marshall Plan-like” stimulus package to fight the dire effects of the coronavirus on the bloc’s economies, European Council President Charles Michel said Wednesday. Leaders on Thursday are expected to call on the European Commission to put together a new plan for economic recovery.
  • Speaking on Belgian television channel LN24, Michel said he had earlier this week discussed “the way we are going to put in place what I call a Marshall Plan-like stimulus strategy” with the bloc’s 27 ambassadors, ahead of Thursday’s videoconference of heads of state and government.
  • “And when I say Marshall Plan-like, I say with a strong ambition,” he added. The impact of the economic shock on businesses means “we must be very active, very soon.” Michel described the endeavor as “an intra-European plan which must mobilize EU capital in the framework of the European budget; which must mobilize national funds and which should also mobilize the private sector,” adding: “We will have to use all the tools.”
  • In a draft statement prepared ahead of the leaders’ discussion and seen by POLITICO, officials wrote that the bloc would need an “exit strategy, a comprehensive recovery plan and unprecedented investment” for the coronavirus crisis, and would “invite the Commission to start work on a proposal for a Roadmap for recovery accompanied by an Action Plan.”
  • Project Syndicate – Mark Leonard / Leadership in a time of contagion

Foreign Policy – Stefanie Glinski / As if Afghans didn’t have enough trouble, now comes the pandemic

  • Over the past weeks, hundreds of thousands of Afghans have crossed back into their home country from Iran, which is one of the countries worst afflicted with the novel coronavirus, with tens of thousands of cases documented so far. So far at least 50 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Herat province.
  • In some ways the new threat couldn’t come at a worse time, with peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government stalemated and U.S. attention focused elsewhere—back home on its own dire coronavirus outbreak rather than forcing the two sides to talk. 
  • U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Kabul on Monday but left frustrated, threatening to cut off up to $2 billion in U.S. aid to Afghanistan unless President Ashraf Ghani and his chief political rival, Abdullah Abdullah, resolve their differences over the recent national election, which both claim to have won.
  • The ancient city of Herat is home to about 1 million people, according to the governor’s office. Located in northwest Afghanistan, it is the country’s third-biggest city, surrounded by lush gardens where families picnic on weekends. The country’s Ministry of Public Health has urged the government to put the city under lockdown, but no presidential order has so far been given for this.
  • The New York Times – Fatima Faizi and David Zucchino / Fresh from Iran’s coronavirus zone, now moving across Afghanistan

Euractiv / EU and US in opposite camps as Kosovo government toppled

  • Kosovo’s government was toppled by a no-confidence vote Wednesday (25 March) less than two months after coming to power, plunging the unstable democracy into political uncertainty as it tries to halt the spread of coronavirus. After nearly 12 hours of debate, 82 MPs in the 120-member assembly voted in favour of the motion of no confidence.
  • The vote ends a brief and bumpy alliance between two former opposition parties who took power last month with a mandate to loosen the grip of an old guard that has held sway over Kosovo for more than a decade. The partnership quickly broke down with the junior partner in the coalition, the centre-right LDK, initiating the motion after weeks of tension with Prime Minister Albin Kurti, leader of the left-wing Vetevendosje party.
  • President Hashim Thaçi, whose party lost in the last elections, now has the power to give Kurti — his political enemy — another chance to form a government or call a new poll. The tumult has outraged citizens who want their leaders to focus on combating the coronavirus. Doctors warn that a swell of cases could overwhelm Kosovo’s underfunded and understaffed hospitals.
  • Before the parliamentary session began, one citizen breached partial lockdown orders to raise a banner at the entrance that read: “The most dangerous pandemic in Kosovo is politics. Shame!”. Unable to protest on the streets because of coronavirus restrictions on gatherings, Pristina residents have been clanging pots and pans every evening from their terraces in a show of anger over the political squabbling.
  • The Guardian / Kosovo government falls in vote of no confidence

Today’s long read:

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.

Política Internacional |