31 October 2019

Commercial crises and military conflicts, the main themes of the G7 summit / Donald Trump wants Russia to be re-admitted, but European states reject the idea

Mihai Draghici

Military and commercial conflicts will be the main themes of the G7 summit, and US President Donald Trump seems to insist for Russia’s readmission into the Group of Highly Industrialized Nations, but Germany, France and the United Kingdom are conditioning this on solving the Ukrainian crisis.

Image source: Mediafax

The Group of Highly Industrialized Nations’ summit will take place between August 24 and 26 in Biarritz, southwestern France. The European Union will be represented by Donald Tusk, the incumbent chairman of the European Council, at the meeting with leaders of the G7 states – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The current G7 presidency, exerted by France, is focused on fighting inequality, so the leaders of the African Union, representatives of the International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United Nations and the World Bank are also invited to the summit.

Among the subjects on the summit’s agenda are the crises in Ukraine, Iran, Libya, Venezuela, the Korean Peninsula and the Middle East, as well as the state of global economy.

“The leaders will discuss the perspective of the world economy and commercial problems. At the same time, they will discuss the international tax system, especially about the situation in the digital sector. It is expected that leaders will also talk about ways to guarantee the regulation-based commercial system. The summit will also be an opportunity to discuss way to reduce current commercial tensions. The reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is also on the agenda, in the context of the commitment assumed at the G20 summit in Osaka with regards to modernizing the WTO,” the European Council announced.

Other subjects refer to the situation in Africa, countering inequalities and diminishing the effects of global warming.

Before the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron supported the idea of the EU becoming closer with Russia, during his meeting with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. “Despite the disagreements from the past decades and debates on its relations with the West, Russia is European and we must reinvent an architecture of security and trust between the European Union and Russia,” Macron said.

At the same time, the leader in Paris is attending talks with Iranian officials in order to analyse proposals which would save the Iranian nuclear deal, which is contested by the United States, but still supported by the European Union, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia and China.

US President Donald Trump pleaded for the readmission of Russia into the Group of Highly Industrialized Nations but Germany, France and the United Kingdom immediately rejected the idea.

Questioned about the opportunity of Russia’s readmission into the group, Trump said the following: “So it was the G8 for a long time, and now it’s the G7.  And a lot of the time, we talk about — we talk about Russia.  We’re talking about Russia because I’ve gone to numerous G7 meetings.  And I guess President Obama, because Putin outsmarted him — President Obama thought it wasn’t a good thing to have Russia in, so he wanted Russia out. But I think it’s much more appropriate to have Russia in.  It should be the G8, because a lot of the things we talk about have to do with Russia. So I could certainly see it being the G8 again.  And if somebody would make that motion, I would certainly be disposed to think about it very favourably. But, as you know, for most of the time, it was the G8.  It included Russia.  And President Obama didn’t want Russia in because he got outsmarted.  Well, that’s not the way it really should work.”

Russia was excluded from the G8 following the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

A high-ranked official in Washington told CNN that Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron agreed to invite Russia to next year’s summit. The subject of reincluding Russia could be analysed at this year’s meeting.

But Germany, France and the United Kingdom immediately signalled their opposition to the idea. German Chancellor Angela Merkel reminded that Russia was excluded due to the situation in Crimea, arguing that the problem still exists.

Also, French President Emmanuel Macron said that “re-admitting Russia unconditionally would demonstrate a weak stance from the G7”. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson took the same stance, stating that Russia is accused of a chemical attack on British territory and highlighted, according to Reuters, the fact that Moscow does not launch challenges only in Ukraine, but also in “other spots in the world”, and therefore does not meet conditions for re-admission into the G8.

A high-ranked official in Brussels said that the European Union opposes Russia’s unconditioned re-admission into the Group.

Emmanuel Macron proposed organizing a new summit, in the following weeks, on the subject of the war in Ukraine. “The election of President Volodymyr Zelensky is a real change of the situation and we will analyse the opportunity – this is my wish – to organize in the following weeks a new summit in the Normandy format,” (Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France) Macron said during his meeting with Vladimir Putin.

The G7 Summit in Biarritz should mark the Western Alliance’s world stage comeback with a new approach on governing, according to a report in the Financial Times.

“As implausible as it sounds, the G7 Summit could be the first step towards rejuvenating the West as the leading global political alliance,” highlights FT, arguing that the meeting is an opportunity to tackle the Brexit problem, solve commercial disputes and reform the international order.

Translated by Ionut Preda