World News Brief, Wednesday February 25

Greece submits reform plans to lenders; Indonesian president holds firm on executions; US and South Korea to conduct annual joint military exercises; UN climate change panel head resigns following sexual harassment claims; ISIS kidnaps 90 Christians in Syria; and more 

Top of the Agenda

Greece Submits Reform Plans

Athens submitted economic reform plans (NYT) to its European lenders late Monday. Reforms would include cutting government spending, reforming pension policy, curbing tax evasion, and streamlining the public sector; the plan also maintains the new government's pledges to increase minimum wage and social spending for the poor. Greek stocks jumped (WSJ) on Tuesday amid news that the proposal appeared to meet eurozone demands; the main stock exchange was up 8 percent. If European lenders approve the list of reforms, eurozone national parliaments are expected to vote (FT) on changes to the bailout program before its February 28 deadline. The proposed reforms are largely seen as a first step toward securing a four-month loan extension for Athens.


"Its behaviour will continue to be supervised by the institutions formerly known as the troika. It is obliged to refrain from passing any measures that could undermine its fiscal targets; that appears to torpedo vast swathes of its election manifesto, which included all manner of spending pledges. Hardline members of Mr Tsipras’s Syriza party will find all of this hard to swallow, as will Greeks who thought they had voted for rupture," writes the Economist.

"The Syriza government and the eurozone have four months not just to decide what permanent deal is possible but to work out a far better and more constructive way of reaching it," writes the Financial Times.

"The political damage, of course, would be much greater. A Grexit would represent a significant political defeat for European leaders. For the last five years, they have tried to keep Greece in the euro zone at almost any price. Were the country to leave the euro, there is a danger that it could begin to orient itself more toward Russia or China," writes Der Spiegel.



Joko Widodo Holds Firm on Executions

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said that the executions of eleven death-row inmates, including seven foreign nationals, on drug charges will not be delayed and warned foreign countries not to intervene (Australian) in the country's right to use capital punishment. The executions, slated for next month, have drawn criticism from Australia, France, Brazil, the Netherlands, and the UN.

SOUTH KOREA: The United States and South Korea announced that they will conduct annual joint military exercises (Korea Times) March 2-13, amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula. 

CFR's Scott Snyder and Woo Jung-yeop explore U.S. and South Korean visions for regional cooperation in East Asia in this Working Paper.


UN climate change panel head resigns following sexual harassment claims

ISIS kidnaps 90 Christians in Syria 

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