32nd G8 summit

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32nd G8 summit
32nd G8 Summit official logo
Host country Russia
Dates 15–17 July 2006
Follows 31st G8 summit
Precedes 33rd G8 summit

The 32nd summit of the G8 group of industrialised nations took place from 15 to 17 July 2006 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The venue was the Constantine Palace, which is located in Strelna on the Gulf of Finland.[1][2] This was the first time Russia served as host nation for a G8 summit; and the nation's status as a full member of the G8 was confirmed.[3]

Overview[edit]

The Group of Seven (G7) was an unofficial forum which brought together the heads of the richest industrialized countries: France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada starting in 1976. The G8, meeting for the first time in 1997, was formed with the addition of Russia.[4] In addition, the President of the European Commission has been formally included in summits since 1981.[5] The summits were not meant to be linked formally with wider international institutions; and in fact, a mild rebellion against the stiff formality of other international meetings was a part of the genesis of cooperation between France's President Giscard d'Estaing and West Germany's Chancellor Helmut Schmidt as they conceived the initial summit of the Group of Six (G6) in 1975.[6]

The G8 summits during the 21st century have inspired widespread debates, protests and demonstrations; and the two- or three-day event becomes more than the sum of its parts, elevating the participants, the issues and the venue as focal points for activist pressure.[7]

Composition of summit leaders[edit]

The G8 is an unofficial annual forum for the leaders of Canada, the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.[5] The G8 summit was the first for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and German Chancellor Angela Merkel; and it was the last G8 summit for French President Jacques Chirac and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Core G8 participants[edit]

These summit participants are the current "core members" of the international forum:[8]

Core G8 members
Host nation and leader are indicated in bold text.
Member Represented by Title
Canada Canada Stephen Harper[9] Prime Minister
France France Jacques Chirac[9] President
Germany Germany Angela Merkel[9] Chancellor
Italy Italy Romano Prodi[9] Prime Minister
Japan Japan Junichiro Koizumi[9] Prime Minister
Russia Russia Vladimir Putin[9] President
United Kingdom United Kingdom Tony Blair[9] Prime Minister
United States United States George W. Bush[9] President
European Union European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso[10][11] President

Invited (partial participation)[edit]

Other non-G8 leaders were invited to attend and participate in the summit talks.

National leaders[edit]

Heads of international organizations[edit]

Leaders of the major international organizations were invited to attend the summit.

Priorities[edit]

Heads of delegations in a working session

Traditionally, the host country of the G8 summit sets the agenda for negotiations, which take place primarily amongst multi-national civil servants in the weeks before the summit itself, leading to a joint declaration which all countries can agree to sign. Energy security, education, and the fight against infectious diseases were the main issues, with the conflict between Israel and Lebanon also attracting the attention of world leaders.[12]

Issues[edit]

The summit was intended as a venue for resolving differences among its members. As a practical matter, the summit was also conceived as an opportunity for its members to give each other mutual encouragement in the face of difficult economic decisions.[6] This summit was primarily an economic forum for the global economic powerhouses; and the focus of this G8 Summit was discussion of economic issues. Some of the pressing items on the agenda:[12]

  • Open trade between Russia and the United States, including discussion of Russian entry into the World Trade Organization
  • Multi-billion dollar aircraft manufacturing contracts, in light of strategy shifts at Airbus and Boeing and worsening airline business performance
  • Free energy markets, especially regarding Russia and former Soviet republics, as well as petroleum from the Middle East
    • Nigeria, Venezuela, and the Persian Gulf regions have all had reduced energy exports in the past weeks due to various political and technical issues
    • Rights for exploration and exploitation of natural gas in Russia and the North Atlantic Ocean / Baltic Sea
    • Alternative energy forms, especially relaxing nuclear power regulations; and development of hydrogen as an economically viable energy platform
    • Security — both militarily and financially ensuring the future in energy supplies
  • Discussion of economic impacts of global instability, drugs, and terrorism
  • Education priorities for developed nations, especially encouraging businesses to support education
  • Global system to monitor and contain infectious diseases

Israel-Lebanon crisis[edit]

The agenda set up by Russian President Vladimir Putin was largely overshadowed by the continuing violence in Israel and Lebanon. On 16 July, the leaders of the G8 nations agreed on a statement[13] calling for an end to the fighting and the release of the Israeli soldiers.[14] The leaders did not, however, go as far as calling for a ceasefire.

Citizens' responses and authorities' counter-responses[edit]

During the week leading up to the summit (7–11 July), police in Moscow, St Petersburg and elsewhere around Russia detained somewhere between a few dozen to possibly two hundred human rights and political activists. Many of them were sentenced to ten days' imprisonment, preventing them from participating in protests surrounding the official summit. The Russian Deputy Internal Minister Alexander Chekalin said that the allegations of harassment were "from the realms of supposition" and that the police's actions were "commensurate with the situation at hand".[15]

Cherie Blair, wife of the British Prime Minister and a human rights lawyer, slipped out of the summit in order to meet with local human rights groups and offer them free legal advice. Her leaving the summit was officially endorsed by Downing Street, and has reportedly furthered a rift between Britain and Russia.[16]

Accomplishments[edit]

The G8 summit is an international event which is observed and reported by news media, but the G8's continuing relevance after more than 30 years is somewhat unclear.[17] More than one analyst suggests that a G-8 summit is not the place to flesh out the details of any difficult or controversial policy issue in the context of a three-day event. Rather, the meeting offers an opportunity to bring a range of complex and sometimes inter-related issues. The G8 summit brings leaders together "not so they can dream up quick fixes, but to talk and think about them together."[18]

Infrastructure Consortium for Africa[edit]

The Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) was established at the 31st G8 summit at Gleneagles, Scotland in the United Kingdom in 2005. Since that time, the ICA’s annual meeting is traditionally hosted by the country holding the Presidency of the G8—in Germany in 2006.[19]

Recorded conversations[edit]

During the summit, a conversation between President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair was inadvertently recorded by a U.S. TV crew preparing for a live broadcast.[20]

The UK's Independent newspaper put a transcript of the conversation on its front page on 18 July, alongside some notes explaining the context of some of the comments; and the news story was widely disseminated by the international media.[21] The paper singled out Bush's apparent snub of an offer by Blair to mediate in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, in favour of sending Condoleezza Rice.[22][dead link]While Britons were upset with the perception that Blair was subordinate to Bush, in the US the fact that Bush used an expletive (claiming the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict would not have escalated if Syria would have pressured the Hezbollah to "stop doing this shit") was of greater concern.[23]

Business opportunity[edit]

For some, the G8 summit became a profit-generating event; as for example, the official G8 Summit magazines which have been published under the auspices of the host nations for distribution to all attendees since 1998.[24]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "A Brief Overview". G8Russia. 2006. Archived from the original on 16 July 2006. Retrieved 19 July 2006. 
  2. ^ "Pacae of Congresses". G8Russia. 2006. Archived from the original on 14 July 2006. Retrieved 19 July 2006. 
  3. ^ McLean, Iain et al. (2009). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics, p. 216., p. 216, at Google Books
  4. ^ Saunders, Doug. "Weight of the world too heavy for G8 shoulders," Globe and Mail (Toronto). 5 July 2008. Archived 29 April 2009 at WebCite
  5. ^ a b Reuters: "Factbox: The Group of Eight: what is it?", 3 July 2008.
  6. ^ a b Bob Reinalda (1998). Autonomous policy making by international organizations. Psychology Press. p. 205. ISBN 978-0-415-16486-3. 
  7. ^ "Influencing Policy on International Development: G8," BOND (British Overseas NGOs for Development). 2008.
  8. ^ Rieffel, Lex. "Regional Voices in Global Governance: Looking to 2010 (Part IV)," Brookings. 27 March 2009; "core" members (Muskoka 2010 G-8, official site).
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h "2006 St. Petersburgh G-8, delegations". 
  10. ^ "2006 St. Petersburgh G-8, delegations". 
  11. ^ "EU and the G8". 
  12. ^ a b "Address by Russian President Vladimir Putin to visitors to the official site of Russia’s G8 Presidency in 2006". G8Russia. 2006. Archived from the original on 16 July 2006. Retrieved 19 July 2006. 
  13. ^ "Middle East". G8Russia. 16 July 2006. Archived from the original on 13 March 2009. Retrieved 13 July 2006. 
  14. ^ "Merkel: G-8 agrees on Mideast statement". Yahoo!. Associated Press. 16 July 2006. Retrieved 19 July 2006. [dead link]
  15. ^ "Dozens preemptively arrested in leadup to St Petersburg G8 Summit". Wikinews. 12 July 2006. Retrieved 19 July 2006. 
  16. ^ Blomfield, Adrian and Wilson, Graeme (18 July 2006). "Cherie Blair infuriates Russia with offer of help to activists". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 July 2006. 
  17. ^ Lee, Don. "On eve of summit, G-8's relevance is unclear," Los Angeles Times. 6 July 2008.[dead link]
  18. ^ Feldman, Adam. "What's Wrong With The G-8," Forbes (New York). 7 July 2008.[dead link]
  19. ^ "Meeting to Discuss Crisis Impact in Africa's Infrastructure Development," Afrol News. 2 March 2009.
  20. ^ "Transcript: Bush and Blair's unguarded chat". BBC News Online. 18 July 2006. Archived from the original on 13 August 2006. Retrieved 19 July 2006. 
  21. ^ Ruttenberg, Jim. "Bush’s Policy Chit-Chat: Undiplomatic Prose," New York Times. 18 July 2006.
  22. ^ "'Yo, Blair!': Overheard at the G8". The Independent. 18 July 2006. Archived from the original on 20 July 2006. Retrieved 19 July 2006. 
  23. ^ "Bush frustration sparks expletive". CNN. 17 July 2006. Archived from the original on 18 July 2006. Retrieved 20 July 2006. [dead link]
  24. ^ Prestige Media: "official" G8 Summit magazine

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Press and media

Activism