News / Europe

G8 Leaders to Meet in Sochi in June

FILE - Leaders pose during a group photo opportunity during the G8 summit at the Lough Erne golf resort in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, on June 18, 2013.  This year's G8 Summit will be hosted by Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia June 4-5.
FILE - Leaders pose during a group photo opportunity during the G8 summit at the Lough Erne golf resort in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, on June 18, 2013. This year's G8 Summit will be hosted by Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia June 4-5.
— The lavish Olympic village built by President Vladimir Putin to host the world’s elite athletes will soon host leaders and elite policymakers from the eight largest economies. Leaders of the so-called G8 will gather in Sochi in early June for their annual summit.

June’s meeting will be the second hosted by Russia, and just as the Winter Olympics have put a spotlight on the country, many observers say the G8 Sochi Summit is also likely to have a significant impact internationally. 
 
Russia was the last to join this elite club (in 1998), turning it from a "G7" into a "G8" – after seven years of its gradual involvement in the forum’s work, which also included the participation of then-Russian president Boris Yeltsin in the summits as an equal partner.
 
“Russia was allowed in under Yeltsin in order to secure Russian democracy and to make Moscow, and the critics of Yeltsin, see that cooperation with the West and Japan was more important than a new Cold War," said Thomas Ambrosio, a political science professor at the University of North Dakota. "Of course, what we have now is a solid, non-democracy [in Russia] that is chairing this organization.”
 
John Kirton of the G8 Research Group at the University of Toronto has a different view. He says Russia has come a long way given its history.

“At least Russia moved in the right direction. It's good to remember that countries like the UK and USA have an almost millennial democratic tradition - everything was started with [the] Magna Carta," he said. "We should remember that and be patient.”
 
According to Putin, Russian priorities at this year’s summit are the welfare of people, progress and development, which he said is reflected in the motto of the Russian chairmanship of the G8 in 2014 - "Risk Management for Sustainable Growth in a Safer World."
 
Fyodor Lukyanov, chairman of the Russian Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, says for all the planning that goes into G8 summits, they remain unpredictable. He points out that last year’s G8 meeting was overshadowed by the conflict in Syria, and before that it was the economic crisis in Greece and the war in southern Lebanon.

"In short, all the time, when they gather to discuss global issues, in the end, everything comes down to the need to respond to the current crisis," he said. "From now on, it looks like it will always be the case, regardless of who chairs [the summit].”
 
But Lukyanov says even if outside events loom large, there is a time-tested agenda at G8 summits.

"The priorities, as always, when discussing the common agenda of such events, will surely include stability of the global economy, a fairer system of decision-making by international financial organizations, fight against offshore companies,” he says.
 
Kirton notes that the Russian program reflects the traditional political priorities of the Kremlin and especially this year’s emphasis on health issues.

“In the last summit’s agenda there was virtually nothing about global health. But this is extremely important to improve the health of people around the globe,” he said.

Russia's mixed reviews
 
As the current chair of the G8 and host of the Winter Olympics, Russia has asserted itself on the world stage. Yet, in the eyes of the world’s public opinion, Russia gets a mixed verdict. According to a recent global survey by the Pew Research Center, just 36 percent of people polled in 38 countries expressed favorable views of Russia, and 39 percent held unfavorable views.
 
Ambrosio says that for Putin, the positive publicity associated with hosting a major global event cannot be underestimated.
 
“It elevates Putin’s global prestige and makes Russia look like a real player in world politics. It continues the very successful year that the Kremlin has had in terms of what I like to call punching above its weight class,” he said, adding that Moscow has also been at the center of major events on the world stage, such as Syria and Iran recently. 
 
But some observers remain skeptical that Russia has much to gain from hosting the G8 summit. 

William Pomeranz of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington says despite holding the prestigious presidency of the G8, the forum is on the periphery of Russian foreign policy, which is primarily concerned with the Eurasian Union, the BRICS and Ukraine.
 
“The fact that several G8 leaders skipped the Sochi games suggests that Russia will need to do some fence-mending when it assumes the G8 chairmanship," he said. "Western leaders generally have not been pleased with the anti-Western rhetoric coming from Moscow, and this tone will have to change if any major developments are to occur this year within the G8.”

You May Like

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid