By GPF Staff

Austria may complicate the German government’s compromise agreement. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer agreed to build “transit centers” on the border with Austria, where migrants seeking asylum would be detained until it could be determined whether they had already been registered in another EU country. Those who had would be sent back to that country. If the responsible country will not accept them, Germany will send them back to Austria. The Austrian government predictably opposed the idea, saying it was “prepared to take measures to protect” Austria’s southern borders and would expect German “clarification” in short order. Underlying this dispute is a more damning truth: that domestic political compromises made in Germany are affecting the migration policies of EU members, and that Germany is so weak, at least by German standards, that countries such as Austria are bucking its authority.

In more bad news for the EU, Greece’s defense minister has come out against the name-change agreement with Macedonia, saying he would try to block its passage. The deal has cost the government a lot of its support in parliament – its majority is down to just two members – and now a major Cabinet official has abandoned the cause. This doesn’t bode especially well for the Greek government, but the bigger issue is just how much opposition the agreement has generated – and how potentially destabilizing it has proved to be in a region that sees it as much more than a superficial rebranding. A lot of people spent a lot of political capital to push the deal through. If it fails, it’s hard to imagine things will simply revert to the status quo.

Ordinarily, Turkey would be happy to watch the drama unfold in Europe, but its economy is demanding too much of its attention. Government data shows that Turkish inflation hit 15.4 percent in June – the highest it has been since 2003 but notably lower than it was during the Turkish financial crisis of 2000. More problematic, though, is the fact that inflation was just 12.2 percent in May, suggesting that this is a trend that is rapidly accelerating. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan weathered an attempted military coup, pushed through a referendum on constitutional changes and won a hard-fought election last month. But Turkey’s economic problems may be his most daunting challenge yet, his newly minted presidential powers notwithstanding.

The China Digital Times, a U.S.-based online publication about China, claims to have obtained Chinese government censorship instructions. The document purportedly shows that China is preparing to escalate the trade conflict with the United States. Chinese media have been instructed to focus on economic success stories and to avoid any use of U.S. reports, officials or spokespersons in reporting. But perhaps most significant is a ban on using the phrase “Made in China 2025,” a key plank of President Xi Jinping’s vision for China’s glittering future.

Honorable Mentions

  • Officials from Jordan and Russia are holding talks over renewed fighting in southern Syria.
  • A key Russian air base in Hmeimim, Syria, has been attacked three times in the past 48 hours by drones of unknown origin.
  • The official paper of China’s People’s Liberation Army published an editorial about how the PLA was suffering from “peace disease” and said China is not ready for real conflict.
  • Israel has criticized the United States for its resolve to supply F-35s to Turkey. One anonymous Israeli source called Turkey “a member of NATO on paper only.”
  • The EU says it is prepping $294 billion worth of countermeasures if the U.S. raises tariffs on auto imports.
  • Uzbekistan’s government is warning of a large budget deficit, even as it raises wages and pensions by 7 percent.