32nd G8 summit

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32nd G8 summit
File:G8 32 logo.png
32nd G8 Summit official logo
Host countryRussia
Dates15–17 July 2006
Follows31st G8 summit
Precedes33rd G8 summit

The 32nd G8 summit was held on 15–17 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 source | 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 source | 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 32nd G8 summit was the first summit for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. It was also the last summit for French President Jacques Chirac and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Participants[edit source | edit]

These summit participants are the current "core members" of the international forum:[8][9][10][11]

Core G8 members
Host state and leader are shown in bold text.
Member Represented by Title
Canada Canada Stephen Harper Prime Minister
France France Jacques Chirac President
Germany Germany Angela Merkel Chancellor
Italy Italy Romano Prodi Prime Minister
Japan Japan Junichiro Koizumi Prime Minister
Russia Russia Vladimir Putin President
United Kingdom United Kingdom Tony Blair Prime Minister
United States United States George W. Bush President
European Union European Union José Manuel Barroso Commission President
Matti Vanhanen Council President
G8+5 invitees (countries)
Member Represented by Title
Brazil Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva President
China China Hu Jintao President
India India Manmohan Singh Prime Minister
Mexico Mexico Vicente Fox President
South Africa South Africa Thabo Mbeki President
Guest invitees (international institutions)
Member Represented by Title
African Union Alpha Oumar Konaré Chairperson
Commonwealth of Independent States Commonwealth of Independent States Nursultan Nazarbayev Executive Secretary
Template:Country data International Atomic Energy Agency International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed ElBaradei Director General
International Energy Agency Claude Mandil Executive Director
United Nations United Nations Kofi Annan Secretary-General
Template:Country data UNESCO UNESCO Kōichirō Matsuura Director-General
World Bank Paul Wolfowitz President
Template:Country data WHO World Health Organization Anders Nordström Director-General
World Trade Organization Pascal Lamy Director-General

Priorities[edit source | 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 source | 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
  • Multibillion-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 source | 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 source | 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 source | 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 source | 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 source | 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] 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 source | 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]

Controversial Massage[edit source | edit]

During one meeting at the summit on 17 July, with all of the heads of state seated at a roundtable, President George W. Bush walked around the table to the position behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel's chair, reached out his hands to Merkel's shoulders and started to give her a massage. Merkel quickly raised her hands in protest and Bush immediately withdrew his hands and resumed walking around the table. A video of the massage became a hit on YouTube, where many commentators likened it to sexual harassment.[25]

Gallery[edit source | edit]

Core G8 participants[edit source | edit]

Notes[edit source | edit]

  1. "A Brief Overview". G8Russia. 2006. Archived from the original on 24 November 2005. Retrieved 19 July 2006. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. "Pacae of Congresses". G8Russia. 2006. Archived from the original on 18 January 2006. Retrieved 19 July 2006. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  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. 5.0 5.1 Reuters: "Factbox: The Group of Eight: what is it?", 3 July 2008.
  6. 6.0 6.1 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," Archived 13 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine BOND (British Overseas NGOs for Development). 2008.
  8. Rieffel, Lex. "Regional Voices in Global Governance: Looking to 2010 (Part IV)", Archived 3 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine Brookings. 27 March 2009; "core" members (Muskoka 2010 G-8, official site). Archived 3 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  9. "2006 St. Petersburgh G-8, delegations".
  10. "2006 St. Petersburgh G-8, delegations".
  11. "EU and the G8". Archived from the original on 26 February 2007. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. 12.0 12.1 "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 14 February 2006. Retrieved 19 July 2006. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. "Middle East". G8Russia. 16 July 2006. Archived from the original on 13 March 2009. Retrieved 13 July 2006. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. "Merkel: G-8 agrees on Mideast statement". Yahoo!. Associated Press. 16 July 2006. Retrieved 19 July 2006. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)[dead link]
  15. "Dozens preemptively arrested in leadup to St Petersburg G8 Summit". Wikinews. 12 July 2006. Retrieved 19 July 2006. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. Blomfield, Adrian; Wilson, Graeme (18 July 2006). "Cherie Blair infuriates Russia with offer of help to activists". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 July 2006. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. Lee, Don. "On eve of summit, G-8's relevance is unclear," Los Angeles Times. 6 July 2008.
  18. Feldman, Adam. "What's Wrong With The G-8", Forbes (New York). 7 July 2008.
  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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  21. Ruttenberg, Jim. "Bush’s Policy Chit-Chat: Undiplomatic Prose", The 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 14 December 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  23. "Bush frustration sparks expletive". CNN. 17 July 2006. Archived from the original on 18 July 2006. Retrieved 20 July 2006. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  24. Prestige Media: Archived 19 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine "official" G8 Summit magazine Archived 18 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  25. (www.dw.com), Deutsche Welle. "Groper-in-Chief: Bush-Merkel Video a Hit in Cyberspace | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 27.07.2006". DW.COM. Retrieved 6 February 2018.

References[edit source | edit]

External links[edit source | edit]

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