30th G8 summit
|30th G8 Summit|
30th G8 Summit official logo
|Host country||United States|
|Dates||June 8–10, 2004|
|Follows||29th G8 summit|
|Precedes||31st G8 summit|
The Group of Seven (G7) was an unofficial forum that 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. In addition, the president of the European Commission has been formally included in summits since 1981. 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.
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 anarchists, anticapitalists and domestic terrorists.
Leaders at the summit
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.
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.
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.
The protests against the 2004 meeting of the G8 Summit in Sea Island, Georgia, took place over the course of several days in the cities of Brunswick and Savannah, Georgia. Local police coordinated with the Georgia Army and Air National Guard, Georgia State Troopers, and agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and the Secret Service, as well as officers from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and others who arrived to control crowds and prevent terrorist attacks. Military vehicles (HUMVEEs) and Georgia State Patrol vehicles roamed the city streets and in Savannah and Brunswick near the bridge to the Island daily. The National Guard soldiers also patrolled on foot, searching for weapons and explosives and watching for known "domestic terrorist" groups and the so-called black bloc protesters.
The protests began in Savannah on June 8 with an anti-G8 march. However, about one third of those who marched were undercover agents from the FBI. Much of the planned "black bloc" protests in Savannah were thwarted when the leader of one "domestic terrorist" group was arrested in Savannah for possession of marijuana. Also, National Guard soldiers found several stockpiles of materials that the protest groups intended to use in a "sleeping dragon" maneuvers as well as bats with nails driven through them and piles of rocks and bricks. Then several protesters wearing all black clothing were confronted by National Guard soldiers in riot gear and then arrested by police after they congregated in front of the Starbucks and The Gap stores and began shouting antiglobalization slogans. At least three explosives were found by National Guard soldiers, though none of them turned out to be very big. One "dummy bomb" was found in a trashcan near a hotel where some members of the media were staying. It consisted of a shoe box with an alarm clock, newspapers and dead leaves. On the last day of the Summit, three protesters showed up on River Street, dressed as the Statue of Liberty, but they walked through the street quickly shouting anti-Bush slogans and then left.
In Brunswick, the protests began with an antiwar march on June 8, and a vigil was held on the night of June 9, which attracted about 300 people and the Fair World Fair. The following day, a group of around 100 protesters began congregating near the gates of a chemical plant, until they were directed by security to leave by. The last and most eventful action, the March for a Free Palestine, took place in Brunswick. Several activists made a replica of part of the wall being built between Israel and Palestine, and burnt it to the ground. A breakaway group decided to cross the bridge and head to Sea Island where the G8 meetings were wrapping up. However, the bridge is about 1.5 miles long, and the temperature was in the low 90s with the humidity being above 70 percent. Thus, after crossing the bridge, many of the protesters were overheated, and all were in need of water. They were given bottles of cold water by the National Guard troops who were waiting for them at the end of the bridge. Then the protesters voluntarily loaded onto air-conditioned buses and were taken back to the Brunswick side of the bridge. A few protesters wanted to continue their march, but they were blocked from entering Sea Island by a security fence and the same National Guard troops who were handing out water. So they sat down in front of the gate for about 20 minutes until the police ordered them to leave. A few were arrested, but most voluntarily loaded onto the buses and went back to Brunswick.
The protests were considerably smaller than past G8 Summits, owing in large part to the overwhelming military and police presence. The extent of the military and police presence was somewhat controversial as it led some to believe that martial law had been declared. However, then-Georgia governor Sonny Perdue was unapologetic about his decision to mobilize the security forces.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designated the summit a National Special Security Event (NSSE), because of the protests and so many heads of state of government attending. However, DHS started to handle another NSSE at the same time: the state funeral of former president Ronald Reagan.
State funeral of Ronald Reagan
The G-8 Summit began three days after former U.S. president Ronald Reagan died. President George W. Bush was at the summit at the same time that Reagan's casket was brought to the Capitol to lie in state, which was on the second day of the summit (June 9). Taking his place at the ceremony at the Capitol was Vice-President Richard Cheney.
Some of the world leaders who attended the summit decided to extend their stay in the U.S. to attend the funeral in Washington. One of them was German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. Joining him in doing so were British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Those that did not extend their stay, like Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi paid tribute at the summit. The funeral took place the day after the summit ended.
For Afghan Interim President Hamid Karzai, the summit was part of his week-long visit to the U.S. He scrapped a visit to the West Coast to visit the Afghan community and went to Washington instead, beginning his visit there by attending the funeral.
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.
The summit planning committee contracted with a Georgia-based wireless communication provider for 450 handsets and service to be used during the run up to the international event. In order to ensure reliable coverage in the coastal area around Sea Island, the company increased coverage and system capacity in advance of the summit. The handsets were deployed to coordinate operations, logistics, transportation, and other critical aspects of the preparations for the summit.
Core G8 participants
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- University of Toronto, G8 Centre: 2004 Sea Island G-8, delegations.
- Japan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA): Japan-France summit, 9 June 2004; 2004 Sea Island G-8, delegations.
- MOFA: Japan-Germany summit, 11 June 2004; 2004 Sea Island G-8, delegations.
- MOFA: Japan-Russia summit, 10 June 2004; 2004 Sea Island G-8, delegations.
- MOFA: Japan-UK summit, 9 June 2004; 2004 Sea Island G-8, delegations.
- MOFA: Japan-US summit, 9 June 2004; 2004 Sea Island G-8, delegations.
- G8 Centre: 2004 Sea Island G-8, delegations; European Union: "EU and the G8" Archived February 26, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
- Oliver Mark. "G8 leaders meet on remote island," Guardian (Manchester). June 8, 2004.
- MOFA: G8 Leaders Take a Ceremonial Photograph with the Leaders from the Middle East and North Africa, 9 June 2004; 2004 Sea Island G-8, delegations.
- MOFA: Japan-Jordan summit, 9 June 2004; 2004 Sea Island G-8, delegations.
- Low, Valentine (8 June 2004). "Nancy says goodbye; She touched her cheek on coffin draped in US flag". Evening Standard [London (UK)]. p. 17.
A planned appearance by Afghan president Hamid Karzai in Los Angeles on Friday afternoon was postponed indefinitely.
- Prestige Media: Archived 2009-05-19 at the Wayback Machine. "official" G8 Summit magazine Archived 2009-05-18 at the Wayback Machine.
- "G8 Summit Relies on Southern LINC for Communications," Business Wire. May 18, 2004.
- Bayne, Nicholas and Robert D. Putnam. (2005). Staying Together: the G8 summit Confronts the 21st Century. Aldershot, Hampshire, England: Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7546-4267-1; OCLC 217979297
- Reinalda, Bob and Bertjan Verbeek. (1998). Autonomous Policy Making by International Organizations. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-16486-3; ISBN 978-0-203-45085-7; OCLC 39013643