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Summit of unity: G7 tries to reinvent itself

Updated on 06/28/2022 at 11:38 p.m

  • One will certainly not move mountains, G7 host Scholz had deep-stacked in front of the summit in Elmau.
  • Nevertheless, this G7 summit was one of the most important in the almost 50-year history of the group of states.

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The first major international summit chaired by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) ends with a bang. After a 40-minute press conference on an alpine meadow in front of the backdrop of Elmau Castle, there is a sign from above that the G7 meeting of democratic economic powers is really over. The chancellor steps down from the wooden world stage that they put on the meadow for him. In the evening he will hand over the baton to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who will then chair the last of three summits in a row in Madrid after the EU and G7.

Scholz seems satisfied when he reports on the results. “I believe these summits remain of the utmost, utmost importance,” he says. It is important to have direct conversations and not just via video switching. “It has created the greatest trust. And that will help us a lot in the near future.”

The heads of state and government of Germany, the USA, France, Great Britain, Italy, Canada and Japan as well as the EU dual leadership were together for around 50 hours in the castle that has been converted into a five-star hotel with a view of the Wetterstein Mountains. The result is a 28-page declaration that negotiators spent weeks preparing and finalizing in Elmau.

The USA as the press office of the G7

Some resolutions had already been announced before the closing press conference. Normally, the chairman of the G7 is responsible for this, i.e. Scholz. This time, instead, the delegation of US President Joe Biden is in the limelight and produces daily breaking news: on Sunday the gold embargo against Russia. Further punitive tariffs and armaments sanctions against Russia on Monday. Then on Tuesday the sum with which the G7 want to take action against an imminent famine in poor countries.

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Actually, that’s not the best way. Scholz takes it easy at the press conference. We have achieved joint results and communicated them together, he says. He is glad that he was able to make an “important contribution” himself. “G7 presidencies are not limited to chairing meetings. There is much, much more at stake.”

No mountains moved – but progress

This time it was mainly about one topic: the Ukraine war and its consequences. Scholz had deliberately stacked low before the summit. “Elmau is in the mountains, we will certainly not move mountains there,” he said. Nevertheless, “important decisions” could be made, he said. This is what turned out in the end:

Ukraine: The G7 will help Ukraine as long as it is needed. That is Elmau’s key message to Kyiv. Although it is not entirely new, it is still important for the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj, who was connected via video. The specific commitments are now a matter for the individual Member States. The United States wants to officially announce the delivery of a modern air defense system in the next few days. There are initially no new commitments from Scholz.

Also read: All current information on Putin’s war against Ukraine in the live ticker

Climate: There is now a clear target date for a favorite project of Scholz: The climate club of the countries that are advancing in the fight against global warming is to be founded at the end of the year. However, environmentalists would have hoped for more, for example a clear date for the coal phase-out. Among other things, they criticize the fact that the door is still open for investments in fossil fuels, which endangers the fight against global warming.

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Nutrition: Development agencies disappointed by US$4.5 billion pledge to fight hunger. The money is not enough, nor did the G7 say exactly how they wanted to get Russia to open up the Ukrainian ports, which are important for grain exports. Since the beginning of the year, the G7 funds for global food security have totaled 14 billion US dollars – but the World Food Program needs 21.5 billion. Debt relief is also missing: for every dollar in aid money, there are two dollars that low-income countries have to pay their creditors.

G7 emerges from the shadow of the G20 again

But it is not just the concrete results that count at this summit. It is also the signal: the G7 is back. For a long time there was a question about the raison d’être of this group, which faded more and more in comparison to the G20. The most powerful countries in the world are fully represented there – including China and Russia. In addition, the group could hardly agree on anything during the tenure of US President Donald Trump and his “America first” course.

As macabre as it sounds, the war in Ukraine has breathed new life into the G7 meetings. The group was originally founded as a union of the major industrial nations to respond to a global economic crisis. Now it is reinventing itself as a club of democracies – and in doing so it wants to broaden its horizons. That’s why Scholz had invited five countries from Asia, Africa and South America, including countries like India and South Africa, which do not have a clear position on the Ukraine war. They should not be lost in the struggle for spheres of influence and cooperation partners.

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Hardly any riots: G20 Dejavu Scholz is spared

In any case, Scholz was spared one thing at this summit: pictures of burning cars, looted shops and rioters throwing stones. There was five years ago when Scholz, as mayor of Hamburg, was a co-host at the G20 summit. The protests in Munich and Garmisch-Partenkirchen were harmless. A large, specially built prisoner assembly point for up to 150 people in 50 containers at the Olympic Ski Stadium in Garmisch remained largely empty. The Federal Police was even able to transfer some forces to fight forest fires with helicopters to East Germany. (ng/dpa)

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The leading democratic economic powers want to further increase the pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin because of the war in Ukraine. That is the result of the latest G7 negotiations.

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