By Ilya Kharlamov
This past week, the world media attention has been riveted to the G-20 summit meeting, held in the Mexican resort city of Los Cabos amid tight security.
The G-20 leaders took up ways to counter the global crisis, and discussed new world financial architecture, as well as prospects for economic development. Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in the working meetings of the forum, held a number of bilateral meetings, including the most anticipated one, with the US President Barack Obama, and also outlined the G-20 objectives in the context of Russia’s forthcoming G-20 presidency in 2013.
During its seventh summit, the G-20 traditionally concentrated on fighting the global crisis, including in the Eurozone, and also took up ways to boost economic growth and population employment. The parties to the forum, besides, dealt with developed nations’ debt reductions. The leaders of the forum member-states, which account for 90% of the Gross World Product, actually agreed the path that the global financial and economic system should follow from now on. The path in question is quite unstable at the moment, which creates risks for countries and entire regions. The summit’s main specific achievement is the agreement to boost the reserves of the International Monetary Fund to 450 billion dollars in what will prove an all-time high. The funds will be used as relief aid for countries in critical situations.
Mexico, the UK, China, Russia and some other nations said they were prepared to contribute to the IMF reserves. This is what Russian President Vladimir Putin said on the issue.
“One of the main results of the forum, Vladimir Putin says, is the decision to boost the IMF funding base to 450 billion US dollars. This is indispensable, to ensure world economic stability and lower financial market risks. Russia is prepared to contribute 10 billion dollars out of the Bank of Russia reserves to the IMF. But we are certain, Putin said, that the boosting of the IMF funding base should be followed by a reform of the IMF management system to enhance, among other things, the role of dynamically developing nations.”
According to Putin, when Russia assumes the G-20 rotating presidency in 2013, it will continue to focus on power production, world trade, “green technologies”, and will contribute to economic and social-sector development. Russia will take inventory of all of the G-20’s previously made pledges. The Russian leader pointed out that the G-20 has no right to proceed from its own interests alone and that it should set up a maximally broad-based discussion platform, where the non-members could also voice their opinions.
The parties to the Los Cabos summit have signed an action plan to ensure economic growth and employment, a plan that enumerates moves to counter the Eurozone countries’ problems and guarantee world financial stability. According to the participants in the forum, the world markets in the WTO framework should fight protectionist practices and remain open.
The Russian President attended the BRICS leaders’ meeting and held a number of bilateral talks, including talks with the Prime Ministers of Japan and the UK, Yoshihiko Noda and David Cameron, and also with the US President, Barack Obama. Everybody was especially impatient about the meeting with Obama, given the recent cooling of bilateral relations. The situation around the adoption of the so-called Magnitsky Act and the accusation of Russia of selling attack helicopters to Syria have added fuel to the fire that’s been smouldering for several years now, due to Moscow-Washington contradictions over the missile defence system for Europe. Still, the first part of the summit dealt entirely with bridging economic gaps in bilateral relations, which clearly augured well for the future of these relations. Vladimir Putin said that he had managed to take up a wide range of issues with Obama, and elaborated.
“The conversation was quite meaningful and subject-oriented, Putin says. We took up security issues and bilateral economic ties. In this context, I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for supporting Russia’s WTO bid. I am certain that this will help promote Russian-US economic ties and create new jobs in both countries.”
It was quite natural that the two leaders also took up Iran’s nuclear programme, the situation in Syria, the European missile defence system, as well as prospects for adopting the so-called Magnitsky Act and repealing the Jackson-Vanik amendment. They also discussed North Korea. The Russian and US leaders urged Pyongyang not to whip up regional tension and abide by the decisions of the UN Security Council and IAEA. A joint declaration was adopted in the wake of the meeting. According to the Russian President’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, the dialogue proved constructive and open-hearted despite the fact that some of the issues were quite sensitive. But then, western reporters took the discussion quite differently. They feel that given the forthcoming presidential election in the United States, Barack Obama could not meet Moscow half-way as regards Russia’s aspirations for a rapprochement by definition. But one should take account of the fact that the western media often pursue some propaganda-related objectives and get engaged in wishful thinking.
Russia-US relations are actually not as bad as they are often pictured, says an expert with the Brookings Institute, Steven Peifer.
Vladimir Putin once again made public Russia’s stand on a Syrian settlement during the final news conference. He said specifically that…
“…no one has the right to make decisions for other nations on who should be brought to power and who should be removed from power, Vladimir Putin says. We know that part of the Syrian people, represented by the armed opposition, would like President Assad to step down. But these are not the entire people of Syria. What is important is not just a constitutional change of regime, but a change that would put an end to the bloodshed. And we should work hard to ensure this.”
Los Cabos played host to a meeting of political leaders and heads of government, as well as to a meeting of businessmen from the forum’s 20 countries. Taking part were the owners and top managers of the world’s 200 biggest corporations. They made recommendations for the G-20 leaders for setting up an ad-hoc group that would monitor excessive protectionist policies in world trade and investment in the framework of the WTO.