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July 1, 2015

Daily News Brief

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Greece Signals Possible Concession on Bailout Terms

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Greece will accept (FT) most of its creditors' terms in a letter sent to the European Commission, European Central Bank, and IMF on Wednesday. Greece effectively defaulted (WSJ) when it failed to make a $1.8 billion payment to the IMF on Tuesday. Eurozone finance ministers are scheduled to discuss Tsipras's request (EU Observer) for a third bailout package despite its immediate rejection by creditors. On Tuesday, thousands of Greeks rallied (Reuters) in support of a "yes" vote in the upcoming referendum on whether to accept creditors' terms. A comparable number of Greeks took to the streets in favor of a "no" vote the previous day.


"Nobody ever imagined that a government default in Europe would dictate ejection from the euro zone. The very possibility would have been correctly recognized as a fatal defect in the design of the system. If the Greeks vote no, a Greek exit is a possible and even likely consequence. But if it happens, the reason won't be that Greece chose to go. The reason will be that the European Union and its politicized central bank chose to inflict exit as punishment," writes Clive Crook in Bloomberg View.

"Creditors will at some point offer a grand gesture aimed at encouraging Greece on the path of reforms. And the Greek government, whoever that might be after Sunday's referendum, can then show the people that policy concessions to creditors weren't in vain, since it got the debt relief it always asked for. Once politics is out of the way, the most important thing for both sides will be to focus on the fact that the best way to take care of the debt is to get the Greek economy growing again," writes Pierre Briancon in Politico EU.

"Ultimately, hard negotiating lines on both sides will lead to a long and drawn-out economic conflict, sustained by religious-like certainty, in which European integration will be the biggest loser. The only way out is what the IMF, the United States, and many Europeans have long known—debt relief for Greece in exchange for unprecedented and far-reaching structural reform. This appears unlikely, though, as long as the theocratic Tsipras and Schauble remain in place," write David Gordon and Thomas Wright in Foreign Affairs.


China Passes New National Security Law

China's legislature passed (SCMP) a new law on Wednesday that defines national security in broad terms, including politics, finance, military, cybersecurity, ideology, and religion. Critics say that the new legislation will be used to place greater restrictions on freedom of speech and civil rights.

NORTH KOREA: Pyongyang carried out nearly 1,400 public executions (Yonhap) since 2000, according to a new report by a South Korean government think tank.


Sri Lanka's Rajapaska to Reenter Politics

Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced on Wednesday that he will run (Reuters) for prime minister during next month's parliamentary elections. Rajapaksa was president from 2005 until earlier this year.

INDIA: At least twenty-eight people died and many others are still missing after torrential rain triggered landslides (Hindu) in West Bengal's Darjeeling district.


Deadly Attacks in Egypt's Sinai

At least fifty people were killed (Reuters) in a series of coordinated attacks on five checkpoints in Egypt's North Sinai on Wednesday. The self-proclaimed Islamic State's Egyptian affiliate claimed responsibility for the attacks. A car bomb attack in Cairo killed Egypt's top prosecutor on Monday.

This CFR Backgrounder chronicles the rise of the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

IRAN: The self-imposed deadline to negotiate a deal on Tehran's nuclear program between the United States, China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK, and Iran were extended (Al Arabiya) by a week on Tuesday. Meanwhile, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency Yukiya Amano is expected to travel to Vienna to join (AFP) the talks on Wednesday.

CFR's Ray Takeyh explores the financial benefits to Iran if an agreement is reached in this Op-ed.


Burundi Votes Tallied as Thousands Flee

Burundi's ruling party claimed an early victory (AFP) on Tuesday in internationally condemned general elections that were boycotted by the opposition. The United Nations said that nearly ten thousand people fled to the countrybefore Burundi closed its borders ahead of the controversial election. 

SOUTH SUDAN: The UN mission in Sudan released a statement Tuesday accusing (Al Jazeera) the South Sudanese army of raping and then burning girls alive amid a recent surge in fighting.


Russia Stops Gas Flows to Ukraine

Russian gas giant Gazprom said that it will halt (RFE/RL) gas supplies to Ukraine on Wednesday after Kiev announced the suspension of Russian gas purchases. EU-mediated talks to negotiate the terms of gas supplies broke down (Reuters) on Tuesday.


U.S., Cuba to Reopen Embassies

Washington and Havana are expected to announce a deal on Wednesday to reopen (Merco Press) embassies. The agreement comes six months after U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro announced the launch of negotiations to restore diplomatic ties.

This CFR Interactive tracks the history of U.S.-Cuban relations.

BRAZIL: President Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff vowed (Buenos Aires Herald) to boost their country's renewable energy production during talks in Washington on Tuesday. The two leaders also agreed to take steps to ease restrictions (Reuters) on travel and trade between the two countries.