2. What has happened in Hamburg?
One of the major highlights of this year’s G20 summit was the first face to face meeting between Trump and Russia’s Putin. In the run-up to the summit the two men staked out opposing views on major international issues. On Thursday, Trump used a speech in the Polish capital Warsaw to call on Russia to stop “destabilizing” Ukraine and other countries, and “join the community of responsible nations”.
Setting out his own G20 agenda in German financial newspaper Handelsblatt, Putin called for US-led sanctions on his country, imposed in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 (by Obama Administration), to be lifted. Putin also argued strongly in favor of the Paris climate agreement, saying it was a “secure basis for long-term climate regulation” and Russia wanted to make a “comprehensive contribution to its implementation”, while Trump has taken the US out of the Paris agreement.
They met closed door for nearly two hours discussing a plethora of issues, including Ukraine, Syria and other problems, and some bilateral issues. They were unable to agree on the exact outcome of talks over the Russian hacking allegations. No one knows what would be the ultimate outcome of the meeting except that both the parties have agreed to declare a ceasefire in south-west Syria from Sunday.
G20 summits are greeted with fierce anti-globalization protests, and this weekend’s summit in Hamburg in Germany was no exception.
Climate change has been one of the rousing causes for G20 protesters who have clashed with police in Hamburg, resulting in more than 100 arrests. On Friday, Greenpeace erected a giant effigy of Trump, dressed in a diaper and soiling himself with oil on the globe, on the river Elbe. Other environmental groups, per the Guardian, UK, were more optimistic, noting that almost all the world’s major powers were broadly behind the transition to low-carbon energy and ameliorating the impacts of climate change.
Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, opined that it was a landslide victory for countries voicing support for global climate action. “Chancellor Merkel demonstrated deft leadership in rallying 19 of the world’s largest economies to deliver an unmistakable message behind climate action… The question remains how quickly the world will surge forward and how far behind the Trump administration will let the United States fall.”
Angela Merkel closed the G20 summit in Hamburg with a rebuke to President Trump’s stance on climate change. “Unfortunately — and I deplore this — the United States of America left the climate agreement, or rather announced their intention of doing this,” Merkel said.
Officials had been at an impasse over an increasingly isolationist United States and Trump’s climate change and trade policies for most of the summit, and Merkel made it clear the United States had made talks difficult.
Nearly 54 years ago, on June 26, 1963, U.S. President John F. Kennedy famously said, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’(meaning: I am a Berliner) in a ground-breaking speech in Berlin. A crowd of 120,000 Berliners had gathered that day in front of the Schoneberg Rathaus (City Hall) where he offered American solidarity to the citizens of West Germany.
This time, obviously, no one expected the POTUS to say ‘I am a Hamburger’, which would have music to the ears of its native host, Chancellor Merkel, who was born 63 years ago in this very city. Worse still, the First Lady Melania Trump could not even walk outside her hotel room and attend G20 spouse events because of security concerns and protests. Donald Trump is also unwelcome in London! He is increasingly becoming a joke around the globe, seen more as a divider and not a unifier, an impulsive man and not a serious leader who demands respect.
The theme of this year’s G20 summit was “Shaping an Interconnected World”. That encompasses three aims – strengthening economic resilience, improving sustainability and assuming responsibilities. The success or failure of this year’s G20 meeting will ultimately be judged on if the leaders delivered on that theme safeguarding a peaceful world.
In a declaration issued at the end of the G20 summit, the group announced that Saudi Arabia will host the conference in 2020. Argentina will host the 2018 G20 and Japan the 2019 event.