Hamburg G20 Summit Results Ambiguous – Analysis


The results of the two-day G20 Summit, which ended in Hamburg, Germany on July 8, caused mixed assessments among international analysts and representatives of the expert community.

On the one hand, the leaders of the states reached agreements on open markets, transparency of the financial system and fight against protectionism, agreed to continue the fight against terrorism, and decided to join forces addressing the consequences of migration.

On the other hand, the insurmountable differences over the climate issue connected with the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, excluded the possibility of a consensus. As a result, the Summit participants finally recorded Washington’s isolation in this issue and included two completely different opinions into the final statement – that of the US and of the rest of the countries.

Among the significant bilateral events, the key one was the first meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his American counterpart Donald Trump. According to the Russian leader, it allowed to establish personal relationships.

“I believe that we have established personal relations already. […] It seems to me that if we build our relations the way that our conversation went yesterday, then we all have grounds to believe that we can, at least in part, restore the level of cooperation that we need,” Vladimir Putin said at a press conference following the G20 Summit.

Commenting on the results of the G20 Summit, Roberto Castaldi, Research Director of International Centre for European and global governance, Director of the Research Centre on Multi-Level Integration and Governance Processes at eCampus University, drew attention to the changing role of the United States at the Summit.

“In the past the US provided leadership and impetus. This is not the case anymore. They are rather an obstacle to tackle global problems effectively, as the withdrawal from the Paris agreement shows. There are is no alternative leadership so far. This makes it more difficult to get significant decision,” he told PenzaNews.

The most significant result of the Summit was the agreement between Russia and the United States on Syria, he believes.

“Probably the most important news was the truce in Syria agreed between Trump and Putin,” the Italian analyst said, adding that this year’s G20 results were not very important.

He also pointed to the protests in Hamburg, which demonstrated the tense atmosphere surrounding the event.

“Trump managed to be even more unpopular than George W. Bush in the world. The participation of many leaders considered to be autocrats by much of the world and the realization that their role in significant does not help,” Roberto Castaldi explained.

From his point of view, the political significance of the Summit turned out to be very low.

“We’ll probably see many other not-so-useful G20 under the Trump presidency,” he suggested.

Henry Brands, a historian at the University of Texas at Austin, also drew particular attention to the line chosen by the US president.

“For the first time since the 1930s, the United States president did not take the leading role at a gathering of the leaders of the world’s greatest powers. This is the major development of the Summit. Everything else is detail,” he said briefly.

In turn, Xu Jin, Research Fellow at Institute of World Economics and Politics of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, called the Summit quite successful.

“The most important statement is that presidents of G20 made a common commitment to free trade, while it’s pity that they could not achieve a consensus on climate change because of President Trump’s objection,” the analyst said.

He also reminded that the Summit was held in the atmosphere of protests and riots.

“The anti-globalists from the world gathered in Hamburg and demonstrated. But unfortunately the demonstrations turned into riots, which shows that globalisation will meet more powerful resistance,” Xu Jin said.

Meanwhile, Hironori Fushita, Research Fellow at Japan Institute of International Relations, said that the Japanese media paid insufficient attention to the G20 meeting.

“The news covered the events only as part of the foreign policy of the Shinzo Abe administration. Recently, many Japanese have become more critical about the work of the Prime Minister, as political scandals appeared around him and his colleagues, and the rating of Shinzo Abe has fallen,” the expert said.

At the same time, in his opinion, there were few noticeable results at the Summit.

“Using the format of the Summit, the Japanese government intended to demonstrate a unified policy towards North Korea, in particular, the development of the DPRK missile program, and to show solidarity of the powers in the region. However, contrary to the expectations of Japan, it was not possible to agree on a common political line for the DPRK. In addition, there were few results in relations with Chinese partners. During the meeting with the head of the PRC, Premier Abe proposed a mutual visit of the leaders, but Xi Jinping avoided certain statements on this topic,” the Japanese analyst explained.

Commenting on the results of the G20 Summit, Hugh Gusterson, Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs at George Washington University and President at American Ethnological Society, said that the meeting in Hamburg contributed to an even greater isolation of the United States.

“The G20 Summit made clear that there are major differences between the Trump Administration and other members of the Western alliance over climate change and international trade. After the Summit the US is a little more isolated from its allies than it was before, and we can expect this isolation to increase over President Trump’s term,” the expert said.

He also drew particular attention to the violation of strict government protocols by the US leader.

“It was very strange for President Trump to have his daughter sit in for him when he was absent from a meeting with the other G20 leaders. There is a strict protocol in the US government dictating the order in which other government officials’ substitute for a president or agency head in such situations and Trump violated it. Just after July 4, he behaved like a monarch, not a President,” Hugh Gusterson said.

In turn, Fernand Kartheiser, Luxembourg Parliament member for the Alternative Democratic Reform Party (ADR), stressed that the most important part of the Summit was the meeting between Presidents Trump and Putin.

“Among the political results of the Summit it is interesting to note that the emphasis on development cooperation is gradually being replaced by a trade approach that is likely to be much more beneficial to African countries in the long run. The withdrawal of the United States from the Paris climate agreement will lead to a new and freer re-evaluation of the scientific basis of the current global warming doctrine. Even though nineteen countries have reaffirmed in Hamburg their ongoing commitment to the Paris Treaty, this is gradually going to change over the next years. The numerous shortcomings of the global warming hypothesis will lead States to re-examine their positions on energy policy according to economic and other constraints,” the politician said.

At the same time, analyzing the turbulent atmosphere in Hamburg, Fernand Kartheiser drew attention to a considerable problem with violent extremism from the political Left.

“The decade-long one-sided activism against the political Right has proven to be insufficient to tackle Germany’s problems with radical movements. In addition, it is preoccupying to see that no politician of any importance is willing to take responsibility for the events during the Summit. Germany gives the impression of a country that, despite some hollow rhetoric, is tolerating violence from the Left while showing considerable deficiencies in its political culture,” Luxembourg Parliament member said.

According to him, the Summit is an important event in itself, but its political or economic impact remains limited.

“The current world order is primarily determined in other fora. It is however important to note that ‘western’ countries, meaning democratic countries with Christian roots, become gradually a minority. It is therefore necessary to coordinate more closely between North and South America, Europe and Russia in order to better defend our common culture and values in a rapidly changing world. In such an approach, the old antagonism between the West on the one side and Russia on the other side has to be replaced by a wider conception recognizing that the traditional ‘West’ and Russia are simply part of the same family of nations,” the politician concluded.


Penza News

News agency PenzaNews is Russian independent information project, which supplies a steady stream of news. The website is constantly updated to bring the top stories from the city of Penza and the Penza region. The Analysis center of the agency covers important political, economic, cultural and other significant events in Russia and abroad.

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