The week in foreign policy

We’re back with the week in foreign policy – exploring what’s happening away from the front pages, and key developments in global affairs that have caught our eye.

Tensions between the US and China have flared at the United Nations – as President Trump blamed the Chinese government for the spread of Covid-19. The BBC report that President Trump said; “”We must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague on to the world – China. In the earliest days of the virus China locked down travel domestically, while allowing flights to leave China and infect the world. China condemned my travel ban on their country, even as they cancelled domestic flights and locked citizens in their homes,” he added.

In Reuters, Renee Maltezou writes that Turkey and Greece are ready to resume talks over contested claims in the Mediterranean for the first time in four years. Of the historical conflict and recent development, Maltezou writes: “the talks, which broke off in 2016 after 60 rounds that made little progress over 14 years, will resume in “the near future” in Istanbul, the Greek Foreign Ministry said in a statement, without elaborating.” Supposedly, the Turkish government gave no time for a resumption of negotiations, but officials have said there are positive developments. Maltezou continues: “tensions flared last month after Ankara sent its Oruc Reis seismic survey ship into disputed waters, escorted by gunboats, to map out sea territory for possible oil and gas drilling.”

Also in Reuters, Idrees Ali writes on stuttering peace talks in Afghanistan. Though the Special Representative for Afghanistan has said that levels of violence are too high and progress in talks continues to be slow, Ali writes that “the talks are the best hope for peace in years and come as a result of a February pact between the Taliban and United States, allowing U.S. forces to withdraw in exchange for Taliban promises on terrorism. But the militant group has refused to agree to a ceasefire and the war grinds on.”

In Politico, Cristina Gallardo writes that the UK is set to scrap the plans for a post-Brexit alternative to the European Union’s satellite navigation system, Galileo. A baby of Theresa May, Gallardo writes that: “the UK Space Agency is expected to announce that contracts awarded to U.K. space companies to build the British Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) will not be extended beyond their expiration date at the end of this month” – putting the nail in the coffin of May’s plan. Gallardo continues: “May’s plan, floated in 2018, was at the time considered bold and expensive. There is consensus in the space sector now that the U.K. does not really need a global system, and that funding pressures brought about by the coronavirus pandemic have rendered the GNSS project unachievable, according to UKSA and industry officials. The contracts awarded so far aimed to provide detailed engineering studies and procure some parts of the system.”

Finally, debate over who might be the replacement for human rights icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the US Supreme Court continues to heat up. In Axios, Jonathan Swan writes on a potential replacement – Judge Amy Barrett – and considers the current political circumstances. According to the article, “Trump has already pulled the court well to the right. If he gets to replace Ginsburg, especially with Barrett, he would cement a young, reliably conservative majority that could last for decades.”

Matt Gillow

Matt is the Communications & Events Manager at the British Foreign Policy Group.