The Greek Private Asset Utilization Fund (HRADF) will sell a 67% stake of Alexandroupolis Port in northern Greece near the border with Turkey and Bulgaria. Two American companies are believed to be interested in the deal. Selling a port of strategic importance to US companies, coupled with the availability of the facility for US and NATO troops, is raising many questions in Greece. The Mediterranean country remains only one in two countries surveyed in NATO where the civilian population is not in favor of the alliance and only 36% of Greeks view the US favorably. An announcement issued by HRADF emphasized that the bid consisted of two phases – "in the first phase, interested parties are invited to express their intention to participate before 5:00 pm on October 2, 2020."
It is worth noting that the signing of a new defense agreement between Athens and Washington in October 2019 gave the Americans freedom to use the country’s seaport infrastructure. In fact, the US announced its interests in the Alexandroupolis Port as far back as September 2019.
Selling ports is extremely risky for reasons related to national security and sovereignty. Privatizing ports means the deregulation of state-owned property and the transfer of all functions and transactions for the private sector instead of state security. What will happen if a foreign investor, such as the US, was involved in the management of ports located in the Aegean Sea, which plays an irreplaceable role in the border and national defense of Greece, especially at a time when Turkey is increasing its war rhetoric against Greece?
U.S. President Donald Trump has issued an executive order that could ban TikTok from the US if it is not purchased by an American company. On August 6, Trump’s executive order banned US financial transactions with Chinese company ByteDance, owner of the TikTok app. The ban will take effect 45 days after the executive order was made.
According to Trump, if the app is not sold to an American company, it will be banned from the US because it represents a so-called national security threat. Growing immensely popular all throughout the world during the coronavirus quarantine, the TikTok app has been downloaded more than a billion times around the globe, totaling 175 million downloads in the US alone.
TikTok as a social media platform is distinct from other competitors because its short video content is fun, easy to consume and dynamic, popular especially with teenagers and young adults. Operated by the most valuable startup in the world, ByteDance, TikTok adopts a market strategy based on not having an obvious Chinese connection. However, despite trying to detach itself from its Chinese roots, TikTok still faces mistrust around the world, and not from its consumers, but rather from the consumers governments.
The US government is seeking to economically drown Venezuela and Iran by wanting to seize fuel that Tehran is sending to Caracas. This is part of a sustained aggressive and illegal policy against both countries. The US Attorney’s Office requested before a court on July 2 to embargo Iranian fuel that is being exported to Venezuela. It is an aggression that goes beyond the legal borders of the US, meaning the embargoes are extraterritorial and violate international law.
District of Columbia prosecutor Zia Faruqui accused Iranian businessman Mahmoud Madanipour of organizing the fuel shipment from Iran to Venezuela through fictitious firms registered in the United Arab Emirates to circumvent Washington’s extraterritorial sanctions against both countries. In this sense, the US is provoking a deepening of the economic crisis in Venezuela and Iran, largely caused by American sanctions. Washington intends to deepen what it created, that has not only triggered an economic crisis in Venezuela and Iran, but also a humanitarian one. Very few international ship-owners dare to challenge US threats and have therefore mostly severed their relations with Venezuela.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić was due to meet Kosovo leader Hashim Thaçi on Saturday at the White House. This was at the behest of US envoy for Kosovo-Serbia negotiations, Richard Grenell, after his much-publicized success in organizing the meeting. However, his success was short lived after Thaçi became indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity on June 24 by the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office.
The US meeting has been put on hold until further notice, but as Vučić revealed, the EU will take over discussions between Belgrade and Pristina at a later date. It appears that France and Germany specifically will spearhead these meeting with the French Embassy in Kosovo saying on Thursday that "France and Germany expect Dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia to resume soon. Together with Chancellor Merkel, President Macron remains ready to host a Summit in Paris." German Ambassador to Kosovo Christian Heldt tweeted: "Our governments stand ready to be helpful with [a] proposed meeting in July."
Due to prosecutors in The Hague indicting Thaçi’s alleged war crimes during the 1998-99 Kosovo war, Kosovo’s new prime minister, Avdullah Hoti, said he could not travel to Washington to conduct talks with Serbia.
Berlin is insistent on maintaining problematic relations with Moscow by making claims against Russia. Longtime German Chancellor Angela Merkel accused Russia in the Bundestag that she was the target of Russian hackers, adding that she had concrete proof of the "outrageous" spying attempts, without actually providing any evidence. She even went on to suggest that sanctions could be placed against Russia.
The German Foreign Ministry said in a statement on May 28 that "The Russian ambassador was informed that on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by the federal prosecutor’s office on May 5 against Russian national Dmitry Badin, that the German government will seek in Brussels to use the EU cyber sanctions regime against those responsible for the attack on the German Bundestag, including Mr. Badin."
The World Bank warns that there is a global poverty increase as tens of millions of people have fallen back into poverty because of the pandemic. Up to 60 million people worldwide may fall into extreme poverty due to the coronavirus, said David Malpass, head of the World Bank.
"Our estimate is that up to 60 million people will be pushed into extreme poverty, erasing all the progress made in poverty alleviation in the past three years, and our forecasts indicate a deep recession," Malpass said on Tuesday.
According to him, the bank is trying to help people by providing loans in 100 countries and pledged to provide $160 billion in loans up to mid-2021. Malpass did add that these efforts were not enough. He called on creditor countries to join the G20 initiative – a ban on debt repayment for some developing countries.