«Russian recovery continued to pick up steam in the second quarter of 2017»
«on 11 August showed that GDP increased 2.5% year-on-year in Q2»
«a 1.8% increase»
«For 2018, analysts see GDP growth accelerating to 1.7%.»
La situazione sembrerebbe essere avviata al miglioramento.
«The Russian recovery continued to pick up steam in the second quarter of 2017. A preliminary estimate released by the Federal Statistics Service (Rosstat) on 11 August showed that GDP increased 2.5% year-on-year in Q2. The result followed a meagre 0.5% expansion registered in Q1 and notably outshot market analysts’ expectations of a 1.8% increase. More detailed data including a breakdown of components will be released on 29 September.
The economy is expected to return to growth in 2017 after two years of falling activity, thanks to recovering private consumption and fixed investment. Higher oil prices should also help shore up government revenues and support exports. Economists project that the economy will expand by 1.3% in 2017, which was left unchanged from last month’s forecast. For 2018, analysts see GDP growth accelerating to 1.7%.» [Fonte]
Il problema della Libia è politico: cercare di comprenderlo argomentando solo in termini economici sarebbe fuorviante.
Così come sarebbe fuorviante cercare di tenersi aggiornati leggendo solo i media occidentali liberal democratici. Alla fine poi ci si scontra con la realtà.
«Sarraj, who was appointed last year to lead the new government of national accord, has been unable to assert his authority outside Tripoli. Haftar’s rival administration is based in Libya’s remote east.»
«The two rivals agreed a cease-fire at talks in France last month and committed to holding elections, a plan which was endorsed by the UN Security Council.»
«Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday backed the efforts of Libya’s military commander Khalifa Haftar and his rival UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj to reach a peace agreement in the conflict-ridden country.»
«We actively support the emerging trend to step up the process of political resolution, toward a full restoration of statehood in your country» [Mr Lavrov]
«We know about your efforts, together with Sarraj, aimed at achieving a generally accepted agreement on optimal ways to execute the Skhirat political agreement that would be acceptable for everyone» [Mr Lavrov]
«Lavrov emphasised the UN’s role in the peace process, adding that the new UN special envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, who started work this month, was also due in Moscow.»
* * * * * * *
L’attuale situazioni in Libia è stata determinata da un accordo internazionale tra molte potenze politiche, economiche e militari: alcune grandi, altre piccole, altre infine utili solo come comparse, a scopo di propaganda.
Dai tempi della “primavera araba” ad oggi è passato molto tempo ed il quadro geopolitico e militare è mutato in modo sostanziale.
Se lodiamo l’iniziativa di pace patrocinata da Mr Marcon, che pure qualche frutto lo ha portato, si dovrebbe constatare come la Francia singola non abbia la forza di proporre, ed anche imporre, una pace reale in tale landa agendo da sola. Stesso ragionamento per la Germania e per l’Unione Europea.
Se ci si rende conto che Mr Macron abbia agito anche per scopi di visibilità e di politica interna, cercando di ritagliarsi un ruolo anche nell’ambito della Unione Europea, si constata anche il suo sostanziale insuccesso.
Cercare di agire in modo solitario è affare oramai fuori dal tempo, specie poi nel problema libico. Per Mr Macron è stata la sconfitta che riconosce la sua reale impotenza.
La soluzione del problema libico passa attraverso le Nazioni Unite, e solo ed esclusivamente con un accordo delle tre superpotenze mondiali: America, Russia e Cina. Sentiti sicuramente pareri ed ascoltati gli interessi anche degli attori mediorientali, ma non necessariamente le istanze dell’Unione Europea o di singoli stati dell’Unione.
In ogni caso, senza accordo anche e soprattutto con la Russia non si può ottenere nulla.
E Mr Lavrov ha messo il dito sul punto cardine:
«political agreement that would be acceptable for everyone»
Questa è l’essenza dell’agire diplomatico: soddisfare degnamente tutte le parti in causa.
Generale libico ha incontrato oggi a Mosca ministro Esteri Lavrov.
Mosca, 14 ago. (askanews) – Il generale Khalifa Haftar si è detto “sicuro che la Russia rimarrà nostro stretto alleato e non si rifiuterà di aiutarci”, auspicando anche, durante il colloquio avuto oggi con il ministro degli Esteri russo Sergei Lavrov, un ruolo di Mosca nel processo di riconciliazione avviato con il premier del governo di accordo nazionale, Fayez al Sarraj: “Noi saremmo felici se la Russia potesse aiutarci in questa cosa – ha detto Haftar, citato dall’agenzia di stampa Interfax – non abbiamo discusso di un ruolo specifico della Russia, ma noi siamo favorevoli a un ruolo della Russia in questo processo, qualunque sia”.
A fine luglio, Haftar e Sarraj si sono incontrati in Francia e hanno raggiunto un accordo su una dichiarazione in 10 punti che prevede un cessate il fuoco ed elezioni. Oggi Lavrov ha detto che tutti gli sforzi di mediazione per risolvere la crisi in Libia devono passare per le Nazioni Unite.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow supports the full-scale restoration of the statehood of Libya.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Lavrov added that while the situation in Libya remains complicated, actions are being undertaken in order to reach national a political solution.
«”Unfortunately, the situation in Libya remains difficult, the threat of extremism has not been overcome in your homeland. However, we know about the actions which are being undertaken and actively support the tendency of intensification of political resolution processes, the full-scale restoration of the statehood of your country,” Lavrov said at a meeting with Khalifa Haftar, the head of the Libyan Natonal Army.»
Russia supports the intention of Libyan National Army Commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar to reach an agreement with Prime Minister of the Libyan Government of National Accord Fayez Sarraj, Lavrov said.
“We are aware of the efforts being made with your participation, with the participation of Sarraj, which are aimed at ensuring generally acceptable agreements on optimal ways of implementing the Skhirat agreement,” Lavrov told Haftar. “We support your set towards reaching such agreements,” he added.
All mediation efforts in Libya should be carried out on the basis of the United Nations, Lavrov said.
«”We believe that it is very important to focus all mediation efforts and ideas on the political front on the basis of the activities of the United Nations.”»
According to Lavrov, Moscow sees such activities “not as aimed at development of solutions, but as a contribution to the most favorable conditions for a dialogue between key figures in Libya, so that they themselves agree on the future of their country.”
«”This is our principled stance,” the minister said.»
Libya has been suffering from a civil war since 2011 when long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown. The country’s eastern regions are governed by the elected parliament headquartered in the city of Tobruk. Besides, the Government of National Accord, formed with the support from the United Nations and Europe and headed by Fayez Sarraj, operates in the country’s west, including the Libyan capital of Tripoli.
The eastern authorities act independently from the west, cooperating with the National Army led by Haftar, which fights against Islamist terrorists.
Moscow has been providing support for the regulation of the crisis in Libya and has repeatedly said it was ready to cooperate with all the interested Libyan parties.
MOSCOW: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday backed the efforts of Libya’s military commander Khalifa Haftar and his rival UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj to reach a peace agreement in the conflict-ridden country.
“We actively support the emerging trend to step up the process of political resolution, toward a full restoration of statehood in your country,” Lavrov told Haftar in remarks released by the Foreign Ministry after the two men met in Moscow. “We know about your efforts, together with Sarraj, aimed at achieving a generally accepted agreement on optimal ways to execute the Skhirat political agreement that would be acceptable for everyone,” Lavrov said.
The UN-backed Skhirat Agreement was reached in 2015 as the basis for a political process in Libya, but it had been rejected by Haftar and other factions.
“We support your intent on achieving some progress,” Lavrov said.
Libya has been in chaos since the 2011 uprising that toppled former ruler Muammar Qaddafi.
Sarraj, who was appointed last year to lead the new government of national accord, has been unable to assert his authority outside Tripoli. Haftar’s rival administration is based in Libya’s remote east.
The two rivals agreed a cease-fire at talks in France last month and committed to holding elections, a plan which was endorsed by the UN Security Council.
On Monday, Lavrov emphasised the UN’s role in the peace process, adding that the new UN special envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, who started work this month, was also due in Moscow.
“Unfortunately, the situation in your country continues to be complicated. The threat of extremism has not been overcome, though we know about the actions being taken to eradicate it,” Lavrov said.
Il dodici gennaio le riserve valutarie russe ammontavano a 377.7 miliardi: da tale data ad oggi sono aumentate di 42.4 miliardi, con una variazione percentuale di [100 * 420.1 – 377.7) / 377.7)] = 11.22%.
Monetary policy constitutes an integral part of the state policy and is aimed at enhancing wellbeing of Russian citizens. The Bank of Russia implements monetary policy in the framework of inflation targeting regime, and sees price stability, albeit sustainably low inflation, as its priority. Given structural peculiarities of the Russian economy, the target is to reduce inflation to 4% by 2017 and maintain it within that range in the medium run.
The monetary policy affects the economy through interest rates, its main parameter being the Bank of Russia key rate. Taking into account the pass-through effect of the monetary policy on the economy, central bank decisions are based on the economic outlook and assessment of risks to achieve the inflation target over the mid-term horizon, and also on possible threats to sustainable economic growth and financial stability.
The Bank of Russia maintains energetic communication policy, clarifying the motives and expected outcome of its monetary policy decisions, as public awareness of these efforts may enhance their effectiveness.
«A febbraio la Banca Centrale russa ha aumentato le sue riserve d’oro di ulteriori 9,3 tonnellate, portando il totale di oro in Russia a oltre 1.650 tonnellate»
«dal novembre dello scorso anno le riserve d’oro della Russia sono aumentate di 72 tonnellate»
«Gli ultimi progressi compiuti nel razionalizzare gli scambi in valute locali hanno avvicinato Mosca e Pechino alla creazione di un’architettura finanziaria che potrebbe facilitare le transazioni in oro»
«Come riportato, Mosca e Pechino hanno compiuto un altro passo verso la de-dollarizzazione con l’apertura di una banca di compensazione in yuan in Russia»
«The Kremlin said on Monday it was worried that proposed new U.S. sanctions against Moscow could hurt major investment projects with European partners»
«That has raised concerns in Germany which has already threatened to retaliate against the United States if the new sanctions end up penalising German firms, such as those involved with building Nord Stream 2»
«Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call Moscow was worried that U.S. sanctions could hit third countries»
«Peskov declined to comment on reports that the European Union might discuss new sanctions against Moscow over its delivery of Siemens turbines to sanctioned Crimea»
MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Kremlin said on Monday it was worried that proposed new U.S. sanctions against Moscow could hurt major investment projects with European partners, but said it was premature to say if and how it would retaliate.
The White House said on Sunday that U.S. President Donald Trump was open to signing legislation toughening sanctions on Russia after Senate and House leaders reached agreement on a bill late last week.
That has raised concerns in Germany which has already threatened to retaliate against the United States if the new sanctions end up penalising German firms, such as those involved with building Nord Stream 2, a project to build a pipeline carrying Russian gas across the Baltic.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call Moscow was worried that U.S. sanctions could hit third countries, as well as Russia, hard.
“We are working with our European partners on implementing a number of large-scale projects,” said Peskov, when asked about the possible impact of the new U.S. sanctions on projects like Nord Stream 2.
“It goes without saying that we and our European partners attach great importance to finishing these projects and we will work towards this,” he said. “That is why discussions about ‘sanctions themes’ — which could potentially obstruct these projects — are a cause of concern for us.”
Peskov said the Kremlin took “an extremely negative view” of the proposed new sanctions, calling the rhetoric surrounding them counter-productive and damaging to U.S.-Russia ties.
But he said Moscow was for now ready to wait and see what the final shape of the sanctions might be.
“As for the Washington administration’s stance on sanctions, we have seen some corrections to it,” said Peskov.
“We will wait patiently … until this position has been formulated unambiguously.”
Separately, Peskov declined to comment on reports that the European Union might discuss new sanctions against Moscow over its delivery of Siemens turbines to sanctioned Crimea.
Reuters on Monday quoted two diplomatic sources in Brussels as saying that Germany was urging the European Union to add up to four more Russian nationals and companies to the bloc’s sanctions blacklist over Siemens gas turbines delivered to Moscow-annexed Crimea.
«On our part, we, the European Commission, also want dialogue. We have known each other for a long time, and we are perfectly aware what we are striving to achieve. The problems between the Russian Federation and the European Union are well known: Crimea and eastern Ukraine. However, the European Commission wants to continue efforts so as to find opportunities for cooperation and possible points of overlapping interests.»[Meeting with President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker]
Leggersi il full report dell’incontro con il Presidente Trump sembrerebbe essere il must del mese di luglio.
«President of the United States of America Donald Trump: Thank you very much. We appreciate it.
President Putin and I have been discussing various things, and I think it’s going very well. We’ve had some very, very good talks. We’re going to have a talk now, and obviously that will continue. But we look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia, for the United States, and for everybody concerned. And it’s an honour to be with you. Thank you.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President,
We have talked on the phone about vital bilateral and international issues several times but, of course, telephone conversations are not enough.
If we want to find positive solutions to bilateral issues and the most important and urgent international problems, such meetings in person are essential.
I am very happy to meet you, Mr President. I hope, as you have said, that our meeting will produce positive results.»
«President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Shinzo, first of all I would like to apologise that we kept you waiting – I had a very long conversation with the President of the United States. Many issues have piled up: Ukraine, Syria, other problems, some bilateral issues, and once again the fight against terrorism and security measures. So, speaking also on his behalf – you have our apologies.»
«President of France Emmanuel Macron(retranslated): I am sorry to have kept you waiting, we had to agree on the latest provisions concerning climate change.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: I hope climate will be better now. You have had a discussion and everything will be all right. Although the causes of climate change are still unknown, let us be honest about it.
But you know our stance, since we are talking about it. We keep to the Paris Agreements. We have adopted all the decisions on these issues, and are set to implement them.
As to the bilateral relations, I would like to note that after our Versailles meeting everything we agreed on is being implemented. We met with your Foreign Minister. The day before yesterday another set of consultations was held in Paris.
Despite the current problems, our economic ties are intensifying and trade is growing: it gained almost 24 percent in the first quarter.
We expect active work from the Council on Economic, Financial, Industrial and Trade Issues. Following your proposal, we started work on preparing and establishing the Public Forum. So, generally speaking, we are moving forward in all the areas we spoke about at our meeting in Versailles.»
«President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, colleagues,
I we are happy to have a chance to meet with you on the G20 sidelines.
We have stayed in contact despite all the current problems. Recently we had useful talks at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, and we appreciate your decision to come to St Petersburg back then, in June 2016.
In April, Ms Mogherini visited Moscow. Her next meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister is scheduled to take place on July 11 in Brussels. We hope to continue and enhance our contacts with the European Commission.
As you know, there is another area of interest: cooperation between the European Commission and the Eurasian Economic Union. We could move forward faster here and look for possibilities to expand contacts, which are possible in many areas.
At any rate, we are very happy to have this opportunity to meet with you and discuss all these issues.
«Question: Mr President, I have a question about the Middle East, which is seething at the moment: Syria, Qatar and other countries. You must have had discussions on Syria at the G20 Summit. How do you assess the prospects for the Syrian settlement after those discussions and after the recent meeting in Astana? Has the stance of the new US Administration on this issue changed or become more constructive, especially in view of yesterday’s agreements?
And also about Qatar, if I may. How do you assess the situation? Was it discussed at the G20 Summit?
And one more question, if I may…
Vladimir Putin: I will have to make a full report to you. (Laughter.)»
«Question: Thank you very much, Mr President, for the opportunity to ask you a question on behalf of my television network. We meant to ask you about your meeting with President Trump, but my colleague has already asked the same question. And you said we should ask President Trump about what had happened.
Vladimir Putin: No, I did not. You should ask him about how he sees it, what he thinks about my answers. As to what happened – nothing happened, we did not interfere.
Remark: Unfortunately, the White House offers practically no information about what is going on.
Vladimir Putin: We will give them a piece of our minds. (Laughter.)»
President of Russia Vladimir Putin answered journalists’ questions on the results of the two-day G20 Summit.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,
Allow me to skip any statements and monologues. You have seen and heard everything, a great deal. Let us get straight to questions.
Go ahead, please.
Question: Mr President, both experts and ordinary people, some of whom are rampaging near this building now, are known to have different opinions on the usefulness of G20 summits. At this summit, for example, there was more talk about your meeting with Mr Trump. And yet which of the issues discussed by the G20 is most relevant for Russia? Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: G20 is primarily an economic forum, even though many political and similar issues emerge. Nevertheless, the main issue is the development of the global economy, and this is what received the greatest attention.
We agreed on determining global economy sustainability principles, and this is vitally important for working along the same standards.
Then we continued with the issue which in fact had been launched in St Petersburg: money laundering and everything connected with tax havens and tax evasion. It is a crucial matter with practical implications.
Next, no less important and also connected with the economy, a related but very important issue – the fight against terror, tracking money flows to prevent the funding of terrorism.
Finally, a very big and very sensitive issue is climate change. I think in this respect the Federal Republic of Germany chairing the G20 has managed to reach the best compromise in a difficult situation the chairing nation has found itself in, namely due to the US quitting the Paris Climate Agreement. An agreement was reached, a compromise, when all the countries have recorded that the United States pulled out of the agreement but they are ready to continue cooperating in certain areas and with certain countries on addressing climate change challenges. I think this is a positive result in itself, which can be credited to Chancellor Merkel.
There are other issues we looked into. For example, digital economy. Here we proposed adopting common rules in the area of digital economy, defining cyber security and designing a comprehensive system of behaviour rules in this sphere.
We said today – the President of the South African Republic spoke very convincingly about it; in fact, this issue was touched upon in practically everyone’s speech and in some way it is reflected in the final documents – that we must be ready for the release of the labour force, we must make joint efforts, we must figure out what should be done with the workers who have lost their jobs, how to arrange retraining, what the deadlines are and what rules should be put in place.
Among other things I drew attention to the fact that trade unions will have to be engaged because they will protect not only the workers but also the self-employed individuals operating in the digital economy, and the number of such jobs is increasing. This is connected in one way or another with women’s rights and education for girls. This is being discussed at many forums but we talked about it today in the context of digital economy.
Overall, this forum is definitely effective, and I believe it will play a role in stabilising the global economy in general.
Question: Mr President, I would like to follow up on my colleague’s topic. Even though there were many political issues at the summit, they keep on surfacing at the G20 summits more and more often, yet you listed economic issues, which remain the priority anyway. Many speakers, ministers from different countries responsible for the economy, said that 2017 could become the year of global economic growth. How feasible is that and will this growth be seen in Russia in view of the current unfavourable trends – sanctions, restrictions and other factors?
Vladimir Putin: We have not seen any unfavourable trends so far, or they have almost disappeared at any rate. Certain factors are having a negative impact on economic development, including in the global economy, the economy in the Euro zone and in Russia, those same illegitimate restrictions you have mentioned. We call for lifting any restrictions, for free trade, for working within the World Trade Organisation, in line the WTO rules. By the way, one of the topics discussed here was free trade and countering protectionism. This is also one of the crucial areas that should be mentioned.
On the whole, there is some progress. However, the initial optimistic growth forecasts have been downgraded. Nevertheless, there is growth, and it is apparent, including in Russia.
I said recently and repeated it here that Russian economic growth is tangible, the Russian economy, and we can say this with certainty, has recovered from the recession. We have been growing for the third quarter in a row, and soon it will be the fourth quarter in a row. Growth exceeded 3 percent in May: it was 3.1 percent. I think we will have an average of 2 percent in 2017. This is also a significant contribution to the global economic growth.
Let me remind you that we also have low unemployment of 5.2 percent, our reserves are growing, including the reserves of the Central Bank and the Government. The Central Bank reserves have already reached $412 billion. The federal budget revenues grew by 40 percent, and all this is happening against the background of fairly low inflation of 4.4 percent. All this taken together certainly gives us optimism; however, one cannot say with certainty that this is a long-term trend. We must take care to sustain this growth trend. I have every reason to believe that we will manage to do it.
Question: Mr President, your meeting with President Trump was literally the focus of everyone’s attention at the summit. How do you access the results of this meeting? It is no secret that US President had voiced a rather tough rhetoric in Poland, and there had even been unfriendly statements from US media in the run-up to the summit. Did Mr Trump ask you directly about Russia’s interference in the US [presidential] election? Did you like him personally? Do you think you will get along?
Vladimir Putin: The US President asked me this question directly, and we discussed it. And this was not a single question, there were many, and he gave much attention to this issue. Russia’s stance is well-known and I reiterated it. There is no reason to believe that Russia interfered in the US election process.
But what is important is that we have agreed that there should not be any uncertainty in this sphere, especially in the future. By the way, I mentioned at the latest summit session that this directly concerns cyberspace, web resources and so on.
The US President and I have agreed to establish a working group and make joint efforts to monitor security in the cyberspace, ensure full compliance with international laws in this area, and to prevent interference in countries’ internal affairs. Primarily this concerns Russia and the United States. We believe that if we succeed in organising this work – and I have no doubt that we will – there will be no more speculation over this matter.
As regards personal relations, I believe that they have been established. This is how I see it: Mr Trump’s television image is very different from the real person; he is a very down to earth and direct person, and he has an absolutely adequate attitude towards the person he is talking with; he analyses things pretty fast and answers the questions he is asked or new ones that arise in the course of the discussion. So I think that if we build our relations in the vein of our yesterday’s meeting, there are good reasons to believe that we will be able to revive, at least partially, the level of interaction that we need.
Question: To follow up on of your answer, could you please say if President Trump has accepted your denial of Russia’s involvement, Russia’s interference in the US election?
Vladimir Putin: I repeat, he asked many question on this matter. I answered all of his questions as far as I could. I think he took note and agreed. But it would be better if you asked him about what he thinks about it.
Question: One more question about the domestic policy, if I may. Actually, it is unrelated to the G20 but the question is about Russia’s domestic policy. I would like to ask what you think of Alexei Navalny and his activities. And why you do not say his name and surname when you answer questions about him.
Vladimir Putin: I think we can engage in dialogue, especially at the level of the President or the Government, with the people who propose a constructive agenda, even if they voice criticism. But if the point is to attract publicity, this does not encourage dialogue.
Question: Earlier this morning you had a meeting with the French President and the German Chancellor. I assume you had an in-depth discussion on the situation in Ukraine. Did a new vision emerge, and is there any hope that Donbass will come out of the ordeal gripping it right now? Can the discussion of the issue launched with the US President play its role, or do the interests of Russia and the United States still diverge in Ukraine, or may be even oppose each other in some matters? Which, by the way, can be presumed from the background of the US diplomat who was appointed special envoy.
Vladimir Putin: The interests of Russia and Ukraine, the interests of the Russian and Ukraine people – and I am fully and profoundly confident of this – coincide. Our interests fully coincide. The only thing that does not coincide is the interests of the current Ukrainian authorities and some of Ukraine’s political circles. If we are to be objective, of course, both Ukraine and Russia are interested in cooperating with each other, joining their competitive advantages and developing their economies just because we have inherited much from the Soviet era – I am speaking about cooperation, the unified infrastructure and the energy industry, transport, and so on.
But regrettably, today our Ukrainian colleagues believe this can be neglected. They have only one ”product“ left – Russophobia, and they are selling it successfully. Another thing they are selling is the policy of dividing Russia and Ukraine and pulling the two peoples and two nations apart. Some in the West like this; they believe that Russia and Ukraine must not be allowed to get closer in any areas. That is why the current Ukrainian authorities are making active and successful efforts to sell this ”product.“
But I think this will eventually come to an end. Russia, at any rate, wants for this situation to be over as soon as possible.
As regards the United States’ involvement in settling the situation in Ukraine, President Trump and I have talked about this and we agreed – and actually, this has already been done – that a special representative of the administration would be appointed to handle this issue on a permanent basis and to be in constant contact both with Russia and Ukraine, with all the parties interested in settling this conflict.
Question: Mr President, I have a question about the Middle East, which is seething at the moment: Syria, Qatar and other countries. You must have had discussions on Syria at the G20 Summit. How do you assess the prospects for the Syrian settlement after those discussions and after the recent meeting in Astana? Has the stance of the new US Administration on this issue changed or become more constructive, especially in view of yesterday’s agreements?
And also about Qatar, if I may. How do you assess the situation? Was it discussed at the G20 Summit?
And one more question, if I may…
Vladimir Putin: I will have to make a full report to you. (Laughter.)
Question: Well, one does not often get this chance. On the terrorism issue: as far as I know, agreeing on the Statement on Countering Terrorism was a difficult process. If it is not a secret, what were the major contradictions?
Vladimir Putin: To be honest, I am not aware of the difficulties, you had better ask the Sherpa. In my view, there were no basic objections from anyone. Maybe some of the wording. But, to be honest, I am not aware of that. I know that the text was agreed on. At any rate, at the level of delegation heads, heads of state, there were no problems or tensions. Everyone admits that this is a common threat and everyone states their readiness to fight this threat.
As for Qatar, the problem was not discussed. It is a fairly burning regional issue, and can impact certain processes, by the way, including in the economy, in the energy area and in terms of security in the region, but I did not discuss this issue with anybody during the Summit.
About Syria. Yes, we discussed this issue with almost all of my interlocutors. As for whether the US stance has changed or not – I would say it has become more pragmatic. It does not seem to have changed in general, but there is an understanding now that by combining efforts, we can achieve a lot. Yesterday’s deal on the southern de-escalation zone is clearly the result of this change. You know, others may react as they like, but I can tell you, this is one of the breakthroughs we have made in our work with President Trump. This is a real result of cooperation, including with the United States. Jordan has joined in the effort, and so have several other countries in the region. We have held consultations with Israel and will continue them in the near future. Still, this is a very good result, a breakthrough of a kind. Therefore, if we move the same way in other directions, towards other de-escalation areas…
We have discussed this very thoroughly with the President of Turkey today. This does not entirely depend on us, of course, as much has to do with the controversy between the countries in the region. Everyone has their own concerns, everyone has their own preferences, their own interests, I mean legitimate interests, so this is the way we must treat these – as their legitimate interests; we need to look for compromises.
You know, sometimes we find them. In any case, the fact that active military operations have ceased, the fact that we are now discussing de-escalation zones is a huge step forward.
Now we need to agree on the exact boundaries of these zones, and how security will be ensured there. This is a painstaking, even tedious effort, and it is extremely important and responsible work. Based on the recent positive experience, relying on the good will of Iran, Turkey, and of course, the Syrian Government and President al-Assad, we can take further steps.
The most important thing is – we have actually reaffirmed this, also in the documents establishing this zone in the south on the border with Jordan, and the area that borders on the Golan Heights – the most important thing is to ensure Syria’s territorial integrity, eventually, so that these de-escalation zones become the prototype of regions that could cooperate with each other and with the official Damascus. If we manage to do this, we will lay the groundwork, create the prerequisites for resolving the entire Syrian problem by political means.
Question: We have already talked about interfering in the elections but we have new elections coming up in Germany.
Vladimir Putin: Here in Germany?
Question: These days we say “we have elections in Germany” in September. Is Russia planning to interfere in them? Did you notify Angela Merkel about how we are going to do it? Maybe you will give me a hunch as well? (Laughter in the audience.)
Vladimir Putin: You are asking rather provocative questions. But I told you that we had not interfered in the United States either. Why should we make trouble here as well? We have very good relations with the Federal Republic. It is our largest trade and economic partner in Europe country-wise, one of our leading trade partners in the world. We have large joint projects on the agenda that we support, for example, Nord Stream 2. There are a lot of tales being told about it, arguments and even resistance but it is absolutely evident that it is in the interests of the European economy and in the interests of the German economy, which wants to abandon nuclear power.
Why would we do it? Interfering in domestic political processes is the last thing we would wish to do.
If you look at the press, the German press or the European press in general, the French press, it is they who keep on interfering in our domestic affairs. But we are not concerned about it because we feel confident.
Question: Thank you very much, Mr President, for the opportunity to ask you a question on behalf of my television network. We meant to ask you about your meeting with President Trump, but my colleague has already asked the same question. And you said we should ask President Trump about what had happened.
Vladimir Putin: No, I did not. You should ask him about how he sees it, what he thinks about my answers. As to what happened – nothing happened, we did not interfere.
Remark: Unfortunately, the White House offers practically no information about what is going on.
Vladimir Putin: We will give them a piece of our minds. (Laughter.)
Remark: Could you just share what President Trump said during your meeting when you told him that Russia had not interfered in the political process?
Vladimir Putin: He started asking probing questions, he was really interested in some details. I gave him fairly detailed answers as much as I could. I told him about my dialogues with the previous administration, including with President Obama. But I do not feel that I have the right to give details of my conversations, say, with President Obama, it is not an accepted practice at this level. I think it would not be quite appropriate of me to give details of our conversation with President Trump. He asked me and I answered him. He asked probing questions, and I offered explanations. I think he was satisfied with those answers.
Remark: Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: You are welcome.
Question: Going back to the issue of boosting economic growth, to the measures that could be taken, the Government has already drafted a plan, and as far as we know, you have read it but for some reason the plan is classified. We know some parts of it from what you said about them.
Vladimir Putin: Let me explain. As you must know, we have several groups working on this issue: a group headed by Mr Titov with the involvement of the business community, and a group headed by Mr Kudrin, who has gathered a large number of respected experts. The Government is also working. But we should make a plan that will be acceptable, optimal for the next steps to be taken in the economy starting in 2018. And we must review all the proposals, assess them and in the end, make the final decision.
It may not be one of the proposals submitted; it may be something based on all three proposals. But work is currently underway, and we do not talk about it in advance.
But the Government has certainly done a great deal in this area, and we will rely largely on the Government’s proposals. We cannot ignore the results of Mr Kudrin’s work, and Mr Titov also has some sensible suggestions. This is why we are working at present to decide what the final variant will be out of the proposals for the development of the Russian economy from 2018 onward.
That is all. There are no secrets. What is the point? The point is that it is wrong to announce what has not been adopted yet. We could just send the wrong signals to the economy, and that is it. It all comes down to that.
Question: I have a question about domestic policy. I have learned that you have been briefed on the [limo] car of the Cortege project, which is to be used at the 2018 presidential inauguration.
Vladimir Putin: You seem to know this better than me: this is the first time I have heard about it.
Question: Have you thought of going for a drive in this car at the official event, that is, at the inauguration?
Vladimir Putin: No, I have not, because the car is not ready yet. You can go for a drive in it yourself, I will see how it goes, and later we can test it out together.
Question: You have spoken about the meeting with Mr Erdogan. Could you please elaborate – when you touched upon the issue of the first zone, the northern one, did you discuss the issue of the Kurds and particularly the territory of Afrin, where representatives of the Russian Centre for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides are present? The Turkish media are already preparing the ground for the Turkish army’s intervention to this area. Also, did you discuss the future of [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad with Mr Trump and Mr Erdogan? For instance, Mr Tillerson said yesterday that this person has no future in the Syrian politics. He did not say how and when, but that was what he said.
Vladimir Putin: Let me answer the second question first. Mr Tillerson is a well-regarded man, he received the Russian Order of Friendship, and we feel great respect for him and we like him. But he is not a Syrian citizen, and the future of Syria and President al-Assad as a political figure has to be determined by the Syrian people.
As regards the Kurdish issue, this is a very big and complicated problem. We keep in contact with many Kurdish groups and make no secret of this. But with regard to military support of their activities, here our US colleagues are far ahead of the game; they are making much greater efforts in this regard.
Our servicemen – not advisers – who are monitoring the ceasefire are indeed present in many regions of Syria, where the truce agreement has been reached. But speaking of the regions you have mentioned, there are one or two of them there, they are not military units. They are performing the task that everyone is interested in fulfilling. But so far, we are not witnessing any preparations for military action; quite the opposite, we expect that our preliminary developments on establishing the de-escalation zones in several regions – in the Idlib area, in the north – will be accomplished. And this cannot be done without Turkey’s support.
Question: My colleagues here have already recalled the words President Trump said in Warsaw. He made yet another statement about the United States being ready to begin direct supplies of liquefied natural gas to Poland and Central Europe. What do you think of these plans, especially in the context of our plans for the Nord Stream? What if gas becomes a new cause of tension in US-Russian relations?
Vladimir Putin: I view these plans highly positively because healthy competition is good for everyone. We support an open market and healthy competition.
The US President said yesterday during the discussion that the United States stands for open, fair competition. And, by the way, when I spoke, I supported his point. So, we are absolutely all right with this; if it is so, if there is open and fair competition, no political motives or political resources involved, it would be quite acceptable for us. Because to date, it is an obvious fact that any specialist would tell you: the cost of production and delivery of liquefied natural gas from the United States is much higher than our LNG – even LNG – and is not even comparable to Russian pipeline gas. So, there is no doubt that we have an absolute competitive advantage. But to keep it, our market participants must work hard. They need to retain these competitive advantages.
Let us wrap this up. Go ahead, please.
Question: After the first meeting with President Trump, do you think it would be possible to gradually pull Russian-US relations out of deep crisis they are in, or is it difficult to say anything at all yet?
Vladimir Putin: I very much hope so, and it seems to me that we have built certain prerequisites for this.
Il mondo ha problemi ben più gravi ed importanti del ‘clima‘ e del ‘free trade‘ nei quali la Bundeskanzlerin Frau Merkel vorrebbe restringere le discussioni in senso al G20.
Questi problemi sono politici, economici e militari. Argomento questo ultimo di cui nessuno avrebbe piacere di parlare, ma che pesa come un macigno: è il convitato di pietra.
Frau Merkel si gioca in due giorni la sua reputazione, correndo il serio pericolo di ritrovarsi isolata nei fatti: sicuramente rinnovata in una cancelleria che nessuno stia più a sentire. Ha deciso di sfidare Mr Trump: ora faccia vedere le sue carte.
«Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to focus the G20 summit on her two pet issues of climate change and world trade. She’ll need to perform miracles to make it a success.»
«the G20 is more divided than at any point since meetings in the current format began nine years ago at the height of the financial crisis.»
«Mr. Trump sees Germany as an economic rival rather than a strategic partner»
«The German economics ministry is already drafting concrete plans to retaliate if the US imposes import tariffs on German products»
«Climate policy is even more difficult. There’s no sign yet of any compromise. Ms. Merkel has just reiterated her commitment to the Paris climate agreement as “irriversible and non-negotiable.” She can’t make meaningful concessions without being seen as caving»
«G20 governments are providing nearly 4 times more public finance to fossil fuels than to clean energy. With the United States indicating that it intends to pull out of the Paris Agreement, other governments must provide leadership in the clean energy transition: the remaining G20 governments will need to step up. Governments simply cannot be climate leaders while continuing to finance fossil fuels at current rates. …. public energy financing in G20 countries and at the major multilateral development banks (not including national-level subsidies or investments by majority government-owned banks and state-owned enterprises) adds up to $122.9 billion annually averaged from 2013 to 2015 – or roughly 7 percent of the total estimated $1.8 trillion in annual global investment in energy.» [Price of Oils]
«From 2013 to 2015, the G-20 nations spent $71.8 billion annually supporting fossil fuels, the study said, compared with $18.7 billion each year on direct support for clean energy such as solar, wind, geothermal or hydro power. Most of the fossil fuels money went to oil and gas exploration, but some also went to coal, which critics say is the dirtiest-burning fuel and the greatest driver of the greenhouse gas pollution that the Paris treaty was supposed to address»
«If other G-20 governments are serious about standing up to Trump’s climate denial and meeting their commitments under the Paris agreement, they need to stop propping up the outdated fossil fuel industry with public money»
* * * * * * * * *
I dati di bilancio, ossia il denaro pubblico investito effettivamente, sono chiarissimi: l’Accordo di Parigi è una farsa. Una cosa sono le parole altisonanti ed una totalmente differente il denaro sborsato.
E Frau Merkel si presenta al G20 con un operato ben poco credibile: le sue azioni contraddicono vistosamente le sue parole. Difficile prestarle fede.
Come se tutto questo non bastasse, ci sono i problemi della sicurezza e militari. Si potrebbe partire dalle differenti visioni in seno alla Nato, al fatto che gli Usa sono stanchi di essere gli unici a finanziarne i costi specie dell’armamento atomico, ma si dovrebbe proseguire con la guerra in Siria ed i precari equilibri mediorientali, per arrivare alla fine al nodo Nord Korea ed ai delicatissimi equilibri con Russia e Cina.
Questi argomenti fanno sicuramente aggio sui temi tanto a cuore di Frau Merkel, che non disponendo di forze armate in questo settore strategico conta come la polvere nelle strade.
L’Unione Europea è divisa: profondamente divisa.Queto è solo un piccolo, ultimo esempio.
«The countries where Mr. Trump has the most widespread support are Poland (73 percent see the US favorably) and Hungary (63 percent) …. Mr. Trump will undoubtedly try to deepen the EU’s internal divisions, by playing its eastern flank against its western members» [Handelsblatt]
Se tutti ci si augura che Frau Merkel riesca a mettere tutti di accordo, con altrettanta franchezza si dovrebbe concludere che questa sia una missione impossibile.
BERLIN — When President Trump arrives late Thursday for his inaugural gathering of leaders from the world’s 20 largest economies, he will be contending not only with Russian President Vladimir Putin in their fraught first face-to-face meeting, but also with host Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, an experienced leader who has clashed with Mr. Trump and hopes to keep the summit tightly focused on her favored agenda.
The biggest theatrics at the Friday-Saturday Group of 20 summit in Hamburg center on the highly anticipated meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin, as well as violent street protests planned by left-wing extremists and anarchists who have descended on the northern German port city in recent days.
But for most Germans, the most significant aspect of the G-20 is that Ms. Merkel, a staunch backer of “green energy” and multilateral free trade policies, is hosting the summit on her own turf — she was born in Hamburg — and could be the heaviest hitter at a gathering that includes the world’s most famous and nationalistic strongmen, including Mr. Trump, Mr. Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Her local allies note that Ms. Merkel is the only world leader to have attended every G-20 summit, which includes the leading industrial and developing nation economies, since the first was held in 2008.
“Angela Merkel knows that maybe she’s the most experienced head of government who will be at the G-20,” said Juergen Hardt, a member of the German chancellor’s Christian Democratic Union party and chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament.
“This is her chance to show that the multilateral way is the best way,” Mr. Hardt said in an interview Wednesday. “We need to enforce multilateral structures, but we have some leaders in the world who are not convinced yet that the multilateral approach is the better way to solve problems.”
In addition to the crises of the day, Mr. Trump is walking into unfriendly territory where his “America first” foreign and economic policy clash with cherished EU ideals.
Mr. Hardt pointed to seething EU frustration with Mr. Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 Paris climate accord — the vast international agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions — on grounds, according to Mr. Trump, that it unfairly stacked the deck against the U.S. and “doesn’t serve America’s interests.”
Ms. Merkel has suggested that she will use the G-20 as a high-profile stage to dramatize to Mr. Trump the fallout from his Paris decision.
“We cannot expect easy discussions on climate change at the G-20 summit,” she told German lawmakers last week.
More generally, Ms. Merkel has expressed distaste with Mr. Trump’s protectionist trade rhetoric, including sharp criticism of Germany’s bilateral trade surplus, and plans to rally world leaders behind the cause of free trade through large multinational agreements.
Anyone who “thinks that the problems of this world can be solved by protectionism and isolation lives under a huge misconception,” Ms. Merkel said without naming any names.
The message seemed tailored to win over Asian leaders who will be in attendance at the G-20, most notably Japan and South Korea, which are still reeling from Mr. Trump’s torpedoing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a massive trade agreement that the Obama administration spent years trying to reach between nations from Asia to North and South America.
In a deal whose timing will send a message, Japan and the European Union indicated that they are ready to announce a wide-ranging free trade agreement on Thursday as the G-20 summit opens.
EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told reporters that she was “quite confident” that a broad agreement can be announced with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to lower tariffs on autos and agricultural goods.
“You can do good, fair, transparent and sustainable trade agreements where you win and I win, and not the American view, which seems to be, ‘You lose and I win,’” Ms. Malmstrom said.
If Mr. Trump is having second thoughts about trade, though, it was not evident from his Twitter account as he departed Washington on Wednesday night for a trip that includes a stop in Poland.
“The United States made some of the worst Trade Deals in world history,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “Why should we continue these deals with countries that do not help us?”
The president’s bilateral meeting with Mr. Putin is likely to dominate news from the summit after months of saturated media coverage about Russian meddling in the presidential election and five ongoing investigations in Washington into suspected collusion between Trump campaign aides and Moscow — charges that Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin both vehemently deny.
But with Islamic State, Ukraine, Afghanistan and now the North Korean missile launch on the list of bilateral issues Russia and the U.S. have to discuss, it’s not clear how much time each crisis will receive. White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders wouldn’t say Wednesday whether Mr. Trump even plans to raise the issue of election interference with Mr. Putin.
“We’re not going to get ahead of their meetings,” she told reporters traveling with the president.
Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, who will attend the G-20 gathering, said in a statement Wednesday night that Syria — and the endgame after the impending defeat of Islamic State — will be one topic that Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin will definitely discuss.
“The United States and Russia certainly have unresolved differences on a number of issues, but we have the potential to appropriately coordinate in Syria in order to produce stability and serve our mutual security interests,” Mr. Tillerson said. “If our two countries work together to establish stability on the ground, it will lay a foundation for progress on the settlement of Syria’s political future.”
“The United States believes Russia, as a guarantor of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad] and an early entrant into the Syrian conflict, has a responsibility to ensure that the needs of the Syrian people are met and that no faction in Syria illegitimately retakes or occupies areas liberated from [Islamic State] or other terrorist groups’ control,” he added.
During the election campaign, Mr. Trump called for friendlier relations with Mr. Putin to join forces against the Islamic State terrorist group. But amid the probes, the White House is treading cautiously about expectations for the meeting and how Mr. Putin might portray it.
“Russia is a major power, and it can play a constructive or a not-constructive role on a whole host of international issues,” said Jeffrey Rathke, a foreign policy analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “So there remains that desire for an improved relationship.”
But he added, “There clearly are risks when you’ve got a foreign policy process as disorganized as it appears to be in this administration.”
For Ms. Merkel, the real push will be to get the G-20 countries to agree that the best way to address the central challenges facing humankind today, whether it’s environmental change, terrorism, immigration or refugee flows, is through tightly woven multinational cooperation and agreements, Mr. Hardt said.
The extent to which she will be successful is up for debate. Germany will “no doubt do its best to refocus G-20 commitment on global cooperation,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, who heads the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, a think tank of high-ranking Russian government officials and business leaders in Moscow.
“But [she] has no magic wand,” Mr. Lukyanov wrote in an analysis circulated this week by the U.S.-based Council on Foreign Relations.
“The global economy faces acute problems of a purely political nature, [and] it was feared in 2008 that protectionism would be the spontaneous reaction of several governments,” he wrote. “It is now the deliberate and official policy of the most powerful member of G-20, the United States. If the United States proclaims ‘America First,’ it is just [a] matter of time until the rest of the world will turn to more mercantilist thinking as well.”
The likelihood is also high for clashes between demonstrators and some 20,000 German police officers who have set up heavily guarded perimeters around Hamburg. With posters plastered around other German cities calling for protests in Hamburg, as many as 100,000 demonstrators are expected, although reports say the danger stems from about 8,000 left-wing extremists believed to be heading to the city.
While the protesters will speak out against a wide range of issues such as war, nuclear power, climate change, racism and big business, the motto for one of the approximately 30 demonstrations has been announced as “Welcome to hell.”
“It’s a combative message,” organizer Andreas Blechanschmidt told Agence France-Presse. “But it’s also meant to symbolize that G-20 policies worldwide are responsible for hellish conditions like hunger, war and the climate disaster.”
He described plans to try to block access to the venue where G-20 leaders will gather and said activists “reserve for themselves the option of militant resistance” against police.
The biggest critics of President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord are also the world’s biggest hypocrites on energy policy, top environmental groups charged Wednesday in a report that found many top nations’ rhetoric on cutting emissions doesn’t line up with how and where they spend their money.
The study examined Group of 20 member countries and was released a day before Mr. Trump arrived in Germany for meetings with other members of the key international group, with energy and climate change expected to be at the top of the agenda.
The key finding: The G-20 nations spend roughly four times as much in public financing for fossil fuels as they do supporting renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. The report examines loans, grants, guarantees, insurance and other types of public finance offered either by the governments, government-owned financial institutions and credit agencies, and multilateral groups made up of G-20 countries.
From 2013 to 2015, the G-20 nations spent $71.8 billion annually supporting fossil fuels, the study said, compared with $18.7 billion each year on direct support for clean energy such as solar, wind, geothermal or hydro power. Most of the fossil fuels money went to oil and gas exploration, but some also went to coal, which critics say is the dirtiest-burning fuel and the greatest driver of the greenhouse gas pollution that the Paris treaty was supposed to address.
“Our research shows that the G-20 still hasn’t put its money where its mouth is when it comes to the clean energy transition. If other G-20 governments are serious about standing up to Trump’s climate denial and meeting their commitments under the Paris agreement, they need to stop propping up the outdated fossil fuel industry with public money,” said Alex Doukas, a senior campaigner at Oil Change International, one of the groups that authored the study.
The Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and the World Wildlife Fund’s European office also were a part of the project.
On its surface, the report would seem to give credence to the argument that the Paris accord doesn’t ask much from other nations. Mr. Trump made that argument — along with putting America’s economy first — the centerpiece of his rationale for leaving the deal last month.
Indeed, environmentalists now say the same nations that have criticized Mr. Trump’s decision aren’t doing their part either.
In fact, the most outspoken opponents of Mr. Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. from the Paris deal — which included a pledge by President Obama to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 percent by 2025 — are some of the worst offenders.
Within hours of Mr. Trump’s announcement on June 1, the leaders of Germany, Italy and France issued a joint statement castigating the U.S. and saying the Paris pact is non-negotiable. They said the Trump administration should not try to revamp the deal in order to secure more favorable terms.
“We firmly believe that the Paris agreement cannot be renegotiated,” the three heads of state said in a joint statement, expressing “regret” with the course Mr. Trump chose.
Words and deeds
But two of those countries are hardly backing up their harsh words with action.
Germany supplied $3.5 billion annually in public finance for fossil fuels from 2013 to 2015, compared with $2.4 billion annually for clean energy, according to the study. Italy funneled $2.1 billion toward fossil fuels, compared with $123 million annually for clean energy.
Canada, another vocal critic, directed $3 billion annually in public finance for oil, gas and coal from 2013 to 2015 while putting $171 million annually toward clean energy.
China, the world’s top polluter, provided $13.5 billion annually for fossil fuel financing compared with less than $85 million annually for clean energy.
France directed more money toward renewable energy than fossil fuels, making it a notable exception to the broader trend.
France aside, green groups say the hypocrisy is striking.
“These countries have been talking out of both sides of their mouths,” said Nicole Ghio, a senior international campaign representative at the Sierra Club. “It’s unconscionable that any nation would continue to waste public funds on fossil fuels when clean energy sources like wind and solar are not only readily available, but are more cost-effective and healthier for families and communities across the globe. It is past time for G-20 nations to stop subsidizing fossil fuels once and for all.”
The Paris deal came into effect at the end of 2015, the final year examined as part of the deal. Since then, world leaders have, at least with words, recommitted their countries to developing and subsidizing clean energy.
The U.S. is in line with most of the world in terms of where it puts its money. It provided $6 billion annually for fossil fuels and $1.3 billion for renewable energy, according to the study.
On its surface, it appears the U.S. would have had to make the most drastic shift in energy financing in order to meet its Paris target. The American commitment of a 26 percent reduction by 2025 would have required massive increases in government financing of clean energy. China, on the other hand, committed only to start cutting its emissions by 2030, meaning it could in theory continue to prop up fossil fuels for the next 13 years.
Mr. Trump said that dynamic is unacceptable but that he is open to rejoining the accord so long as the terms don’t punish the U.S. economy.
“We’re getting out, but we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair,” he said in a Rose Garden address last month. “And if we can, that’s great. And if we can’t, that’s fine.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to focus the G20 summit on her two pet issues of climate change and world trade. She’ll need to perform miracles to make it a success.
Chancellor Angela Merkel will need all her famed diplomatic skills this week to fulfil what many see as a mission impossible: preventing an open break of the G20, the closest thing the world has to a government, at this week’s summit of the world’s wealthiest nations.
As host, it will fall on her to try to patch up deep rifts in the world order. Wherever you look, there is dissent and conflict. US President Donald Trump is threatening Europe and China with import tariffs and has pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
China and America can’t agree on how to deal with North Korea’s mounting aggression and are at odds over China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. Russia, internationally isolated since the Ukraine conflict, is hacking its way into Western elections and confounding the West with its military support for the Assad regime in the Syrian civil war.
And then there’s the never-ending dispute with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who fired yet another salvo at Berlin this week by declaring in an interview with Die Zeit newspaper that Germany was “committing suicide” by not allowing him to speak to Turks at a rally in Germany. “What kind of spirit is that? That is very ugly,” he said.
«“It’s alarming to me that almost all Trump’s comments on Germany are negative. Just as almost all his comments about the EU are negative.”» [Nicholas Burns, Foreign policy expert]
Ms. Merkel knows she won’t be able to cure the world of all its ills at the summit in Hamburg. That’s why she plans to focus the talks on two issues that are particularly important to her: safeguarding free trade and combating global warming. Progress on either issue would also bolster her campaign for a fourth term in the September election, although her party is so far ahead in opinion polls that she doesn’t need to worry too much on that score.
But there’s a real chance that the summit will end in failure. Mr. Trump, her main opponent in the talks, has so far steadfastly refused to budge on trade or climate change. And if he can’t be swayed, the mega-event costing hundreds of millions of euros with its 6,000 delegates, 100,000 protesters and 15,000 police could yield nothing more than a pointless, watered-down consensus. That’s why Ms. Merkel’s strategists are working flat out to save what can be saved.
On Friday evening, when Ms. Merkel hosts the leaders in the grand, newly opened dockside Elbphilhamonie concert hall-turned-fortress, their negotiators will start what could well turn into an all-night session of last-ditch talks.
While the leaders and their spouses savor the sublime acoustics of the futuristic hall as an orchestra plays Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” the functionaries will attempt to finalize the summit communique. It won’t be a joyful task because the G20 is more divided than at any point since meetings in the current format began nine years ago at the height of the financial crisis.
Officials have been talking since Tuesday in a Hamburg hotel. Mr. Trump and Ms. Merkel spoke on the phone on Monday when he assured her the summit would be a “success.” But she can’t bank on significant concessions from the “America First” president.
Mr. Trump sees Germany as an economic rival rather than a strategic partner, said foreign policy expert Nicholas Burns. “It’s alarming to me that almost all Trump’s comments on Germany are negative. Just as almost all his comments about the EU are negative. The entire way Trump deals with relations with Germany is destructive.”
But amid all the differences, there are some chinks of light. Contrary to recent speculation, there’s no sign of major disagreement on classic G20 issues such as financial market regulation or tax policy. The US continues to support the G20 stance, as the meeting of G20 finance ministers in Baden Baden in March showed.
At the G7 summit in Sicily in May, Mr. Trump agreed to include a pledge to fight trade protectionism in the final communique. But then, at a meeting of OECD ministers shortly afterwards, the US distanced itself from that promise again.
In Hamburg, Ms. Merkel wants to avoid falling back behind the G7 declaration, so even a repeat of the pledge given in Sicily would be seen as a success. But she won’t have been encouraged by a speech given by US Trade Secretary Wilbur Ross to a business conference of her conservative party in Berlin last week. Speaking via video link, he reiterated US criticism of Germany’s trade surplus and said the US wanted a bigger share of the European market.
The German economics ministry is already drafting concrete plans to retaliate if the US imposes import tariffs on German products. Possible measures could include tariffs on imports of American agricultural produce.
Climate policy is even more difficult. There’s no sign yet of any compromise. Ms. Merkel has just reiterated her commitment to the Paris climate agreement as “irriversible and non-negotiable.” She can’t make meaningful concessions without being seen as caving. On the other hand, she needs Mr. Trump’s agreement or the summit will fail. She can’t afford to isolate him, partly because he might respond by trying to sway Saudi Arabia and India whose support for the Paris accord is seen as shaky.
She’s looking for a face-saving compromise, a choice of words that the president can sign up to. So far, the circle hasn’t been squared. He regards jobs as more important than protecting the climate, while Ms. Merkel must defend the Paris accord.
Officials plan to get a draft communique ready by Thursday evening so that Ms. Merkel and Mr. Trump can discuss it. Then on Friday night, it will be returned to the negotiators.
But Mr. Trump isn’t the only risk. If the planned anti-G20 protests end in chaos and violence, images of a teargas-shrouded Hamburg will haunt her right up to the election.