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 Report: Minneapolis Man Was 2nd American Killed in Syria

Local television report says Abdirahman Muhumed left the area to fight for Islamic State militants More

WHO Fears Ebola Outbreak Could Infect 20,000 People

World Health Organization says outbreak 'continues to accelerate' but that most cases are concentrated in a few local areas More

Angelina Jolie Marries Brad Pitt

Actors wed in small private ceremony Saturday in France 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.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid