The “Beast” messes everything up. Because US President Joe Biden’s helicopter was too big and too heavy to land at Schloss Elmau on his first visit to Germany, Biden had to switch to his armored limousine in the valley near Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
That means a rigorous full closure for two hours. The police officers say nothing, even pedestrians are no longer allowed to cross the streets. The atmosphere is correspondingly annoyed and tense. Rarely has a G7 summit taken place in a more difficult situation: a war in the middle of Europe, previous partners in the global South who blame the West for inflation and impending famine because of the sanctions against Russia.
The most beautiful task has as a summit extra Markus Söder. The Bavarian Prime Minister welcomes the heads of state and government of the seven leading Western industrial nations at Munich Airport. For Biden, he had a red pedestal set up with an ornate table and chair with gold upholstery directly in front of Air Force One. The President signs the golden book, Söder stands next to him with his legs apart and grins.
Söder posted a picture on Twitter showing the six guests – Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Great Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
“The world as a guest in
A small tip of Bavaria against the Social Democrats? Söder accused Scholz in a federal-state meeting that he shouldn’t grin so smugly. Both do politics very differently.
Biden will first attend a service at Schloss Elmau on Sunday. The White House said the priest was a US military chaplain. The 79-year-old is a devout Catholic and regularly goes to church on Sundays.
Before the opening meeting of the G7 group on the state of the global economy, Chancellor Scholz then met with US President Biden for bilateral consultations.
Scholz first has to wait a few minutes, the Chancellor first knocks on the bulletproof glass panes, behind which lush green alpine meadows and the imposing Wetterstein Mountains can be seen. Biden then comes very casually with sunglasses and puts his arm around Scholz’s shoulders.
He doesn’t manage to return the gesture. He remains motionless, looks at the Alpine panorama with Biden. Then they retreat to talk.
Biden arrived with bad news, the Supreme Court overturned abortion rights after more than 50 years and allowing the states to ban abortions is a turning point. The country of the once free-liberal ideals is facing huge internal conflicts, the sigh of relief over Biden’s election victory could only have been a short intermediate stage. The Supreme Court is becoming a political actor, increasingly trying to push through a conservative rollback agenda.
As in 2015, the summit will take place in Elmau Castle, which has been converted into a five-star hotel in the Bavarian Wetterstein Mountains. Because of its seclusion at an altitude of around 1000 meters near the border with Austria, the hotel is considered the ideal place for such a meeting. The area is largely cordoned off with heavily guarded, kilometer-long fences. On site, however, there is a lot of criticism of the enormous effort in these times, when the federal government is also preaching renunciation. 18,000 police officers are on duty, the organization costs 170 million.
The palace, built in 1916 by the philosopher Johannes Müller, was rebuilt in 2005 after a major fire and expanded with a new building where the guests of the G7 summit will stay overnight.
Of course, the chancellor’s home summit will be overshadowed by the consequences of the Russian war in Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will join on Monday. He insists on even more comprehensive arms aid from the West, since Russia is increasingly gaining the upper hand in the Donbass, and just in time for the start of the summit in the picturesque Alpine setting, rockets fell again in Kyiv. According to US President Biden, the G7 countries want to announce an import ban on Russian gold as the next sanctions step.
Biden said on Twitter that Russia would lose tens of billions of dollars in revenue from this important export commodity.
In a statement, the G7 states want to once again promise support for Ukraine, which has been attacked by Russia, for as long as it is necessary. Scholz also brought up a Marshall Plan for reconstruction – but Russia must not win the war for that. Between 1948 and 1952, the USA used such a plan to help Germany and other European countries get back on their feet after six years of war. Scholz now wants to convene an expert conference to deal with how to organize investments in Ukraine.
The fact that Vladimir Putin is now offering Belarus the prospect of stationing nuclear missiles massively intensifies the threat situation. Especially for the Baltic States, after Lithuania restricted the access of certain goods to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.
Concrete financial commitments are expected in the fight against famine, which is particularly prevalent in East Africa and is becoming even worse given the rising grain prices in the course of the war. Experts warn of the worst famine since World War II as a result of the Ukraine war. The G7 will seek ways to unblock Ukraine’s grain exports across the Black Sea – and make financial pledges to help countries hardest hit by the food crisis.
The high energy prices will also be an issue in Elmau, and of course climate protection. From the point of view of Chancellor Olaf Scholz, it is “important that this meeting sends a signal of unity,” government circles said.
In this context, the Federal Government is also aiming for a joint declaration from the summit on the principle of the rule of law in the international order. This would be a “big signal” given the tense world situation.
The G7 includes seven of the world’s most economically powerful democracies: Germany, the USA, France, Great Britain, Italy, Canada and Japan. EU Council President Charles Michel and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will also take part in the summit. Scholz has also invited five guest countries – democracies from Asia, Africa and South America: India, Indonesia, South Africa, Senegal and Argentina. “Our understanding of democracy falls short if we only focus on the classic West,” says Scholz in justification.
Chancellor Scholz fears that Russia’s war against Ukraine could deepen the division in the world and that two blocs would end up opposing each other: on the one hand the democratic industrialized countries (G7) and their allies, on the other hand important emerging and developing countries, his formula for this means: “G7 plus” versus “Brics plus”. Brics are Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa. Because many emerging and developing countries are not prepared to condemn Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine, instead they denounce the sanctions of the West as particularly harmful to themselves. Russian diplomacy has done the groundwork, its narrative caught in the southern hemisphere.
That is one of the reasons why Scholz invited five guest countries to the summit on Monday: the heads of state and government of Indonesia, which holds the presidency of the group of industrialized and emerging countries (G20), its successors India, South Africa, Senegal, which holds the presidency of the African Union ( AU) and Argentina, which currently heads the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States. According to the Chancellor’s plan, Germany and its partners should convince these potential allies by paying attention and offering economic cooperation, for example in the field of energy, that it is worth defending a rules-based international order that does not violate international law like Vladimir Putin’s accepts.
Russian oil price cap: The US wants to reach an agreement in principle at the G7 meeting on its proposal for an international price cap for Russian oil. It envisages forcing Russia to sell oil to large buyers such as India at a significantly lower price in the future.
This could work by the West tying services such as insurance for oil shipments to compliance with the price cap. On the one hand, the upper limit is intended to ensure that Russia no longer benefits from price increases on the energy market.
On the other hand, it should contribute to a relaxation on the oil markets worldwide. Not only in the EU, but also in the USA, the high fuel prices are currently a big issue.
But the plan also has a catch, especially if it were to be expanded to include gas supplies: there is a risk that other buyers would then be found for oil or liquefied gas, which could ultimately exacerbate the energy crisis in Europe.
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The long-standing head of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger, emphasizes: “I see the real purpose of this summit in the affirmation of Western determination to defend a rules-based international order against massive violations of international law like that of Putin.” Today’s G7 summit is a defensive meeting ” to defend our values and rules.” The Iraq war and the Afghanistan war had shaken the credibility of the West, said the current head of the Foundation Council of the Security Conference. “That’s why the West doesn’t have a particularly good hand in the struggle with Russia and China,” he said: “We have a very unfavorable starting position.”
Ischinger defended the cost of 170 million euros for the meeting. “Given the evident disintegration of a rules-based international order, any attempt to keep multilateral politics alive and strengthened makes sense,” he explains. “This money is well spent.”
Chancellor Scholz is also trying to dampen expectations. The main thing is unity and a signal of strength to Moscow, but also to Beijing, which is becoming increasingly aggressive towards Taiwan. “Elmau is in the mountains, we will certainly not move mountains there,” said Scholz before starting the summit, but added: “We can make important decisions and prepare things that are useful for all of us.”