April 27, 2018

Meetings of the Leaders in Washington and the G7 Summit in Toronto

Serhiy Polyovyk

Recent events in Europe and the United States with the participation of the leaders of the United States, France, Germany have drawn analysts' attention not only because of the statements and decisions important for the international community. Geopolitical results of such decisions for the system of collective security and stability in Europe and other regions of the world, achieved at the meetings of the Presidents of France and the USA, consequences of the decisions of the G7 in Toronto, results of the visit of the Chancellor of Germany to the USA at the end of this week, etc., soon will permeate new agreements, statements and practical actions.

At the same time, the atmosphere at the above-mentioned summits, the character of the personal relations of leaders of the greatest powers and the tendencies of their development, which have become public, can be considered remarkable for the continuation of the international dialogue.

 

Experts can't help comparing the character and emphasizing the solemn atmosphere of the three-day State visit to the United States of the French President Emmanuel Macron on April 23–25 with the short-term working visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, for whom the President of the United States allocated only a few hours in the work schedule.

E. Macron's visit took place in a constructive solemn atmosphere, due to personal sympathy between Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron, and ended in the historic address of the French President to the US Congress. Observers point out that, regardless of the content of that, undoubtedly, constructive speech, it had entered the history of relations between France and the United States even before its was delivered. Obviously, it was no accident, actually, that the French President's visit to the United States, and the above-mentioned speech had been prepared for the moment which, within the accuracy of one day coincided with French President Charles de Gaulle's speech made in the US Congress in 1960.

French President visit ended in the historic address to the US Congress
French President visit ended in the historic address
to the US Congress

Such symbolism and other official and unofficial signs of attention, shown by D. Trump to E. Macron during the entire visit, testify to the special character of the relations that have developed between both states and between their leaders.

Most likely, relations between the two countries and the EU countries will continue to develop in the future, not only with taking into account political and economic factors and interests of the countries, but also with taking into account the peculiarities of the relations between the main negotiators. This enables achieving the goals of both, the EU as a whole and its individual member countries through further influences from the leaders of other countries on E. Macron. Thus, the price increases not only for achieving the results of negotiations, but also for the role of the President of France, as the only so far authority in Europe, who has a real influence on D. Trump.

The main topics of the dialogue between the leaders of the United States and France concerned geopolitics and global economy, global and regional security, the prospects for their resolving. In particular, they considered:

  • Iran's nuclear program the United States' intention to withdraw from the “nuclear deal”;
  • international trade and American customs duties on aluminum and steel;
  • situation in Syria;
  • US-EU relations, as well as those between the USA, Europe and Russia.

Observers point out that E. Macron managed to achieve partial or significant success and progress on all issues.

It is noteworthy that at present, France, against the background of Britain's Brexit, unreliability of Germany's European policy, caused by its internal political confrontations and influences of the Russian lobby, has displaced these leaders from among the most influential USA's partners in Europe. Given this, taking into consideration the prospects for the establishment and domination of new political priorities in Europe, the French President's State visit to the United States was especially important for E. Macron. Analysts emphasize that at stake were not only global strategic goals of security and economy, but E. Macron's reputation in Europe and France itself. It is known that D. Trump is not popular among the French. So, if E. Macron had not reached the desired agreement, it would have hit his image and affected his further career as the head of the French nation, and France's leading role in the EU.

The price increases for the role of the President of France, as the only so far authority in Europe, who has a real influence on D. Trump
The price increases for the role of the President of France, as the only so far authority in Europe, who has a real influence on D. Trump

According to the assessments made by analysts from the Atlantic Council's Future Europe, published on the eve of E. Macron's visit to the United States, the importance of this State visit was as follows: “The French President has two things to do to be a real player on the European stage in the way that Chancellor Merkel has been over the last few years, although she is now weakened. One is economic and the other is diplomatic. He must show that his union with Trump meets the interests not only of the United States and France, but also those of Europe”.

However, observers admit that France's attitude to its relations with Washington is pragmatic. From the point of view of Paris, it is an alliance based on common interests, not on a common world-view. E. Macron managed to negotiate with D. Trump on key issues on the agenda of the visit, which will undoubtedly secure his status as an influential world leader and the White House's new main ally, which the French leader has sought since obtaining the post.

 

The attention of analysts is drawn to the fact that, simultaneously with the French President's State visit to the USA, G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting was held in Toronto, Canada. Its course and results show the harmony of the views of the leaders of great powers with the position of the United States on the issues discussed. In particular, representatives of the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Canada, the United States, France and Japan talked about building a safe world.

It is noteworthy that for the first time on the personal invitation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin joined the summit.

G7 Foreign Ministers in Toronto (Canada)
G7 Foreign Ministers in Toronto (Canada)

The summit discussed a wide range of issues. Among those that are reflected in the G7 Foreign Ministers’ communiqué and are most important for Ukraine are as follows:

  • Foreign Ministers of the G7 welcomed the economic reform in Ukraine, the results of the implementation of decentralization, and expressed their readiness to provide Ukraine with further support in these issues;
  • representatives of the G7 stressed that Ukraine should to make continued, clear progress along reform path. In particular, it is necessary to create an Anticorruption Court as soon as possible in accordance with the recommendations of the Venice Commission. Besides, progress should be made on electoral reforms and the National Security Law;
  • the Ministers expressed indignation at the fact that Russia continues to violate human rights in the occupied Crimea. They pointed out that G7 fully supports Ukraine and condemns the illegal annexation of the Crimea by Russia. G7 Ministers will continue to defend Ukraine's position on the Crimea and protect the independence and territorial integrity of our country;
  • sanctions against Russia will not be suspended as long as it violates international law, infringes upon the territorial integrity of Ukraine, refrains from implementing the Minsk Agreements. If the situation gets worse, G7 countries are ready to extend sanctions. In addition, according to Deutsche Welle, Germany's Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas stated that in the near future Russia will not return to G7;
  • British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that G7 would create a special working group to analyze Russia's aggressive behavior, in particular, regarding the conduct of cyberwarfare, disinformation, attempted assassinations;
  • G7 Foreign Ministers supported the British position regarding the poisoning of the Skipals in Salisbury. They agreed that the attack was organized by Russia, there is no plausible alternative explanation for those events. G7 called on the Russian Federation to urgently address all questions related to the Skripals and provide full and complete disclosure of its previously undeclared Novichok programme;
  • G7 Foreign Ministers supported the United States, Great Britain and France's strike in Syria. The Ministers agreed that the strike on objects in Syria was an adequate response to the Assad regime's chemical attack in Douma: “This response was limited, proportionate and necessary — and taken only after exhausting every possible diplomatic option to uphold the international norm against the use of chemical weapons”.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin joined the G7 summit
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin
joined the G7 summit

It is noteworthy that Russia reacted negatively to the results of the G7's work in Toronto. In particular, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, during his meeting with reporters in Beijing, stated that there was “Russophobia” during the talks of G7. As you know, Russia was expelled from G7 in 2014 over the occupation of the Crimea and violations of international law.

 

Against the background of the events in Washington and Toronto, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's working visit to the United States wasimportant and complex personally for the leader of the German government.

In particular, Senior Research Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington Constanze Stelzenmuller on April 24, told the German edition Suddeutsche Zeitung, that A. Merkel's visit to the United States was taking place at the time when German-American relations had reached the lowest point. According to the analyst, D. Trump's role as a special problem for Europe will be highlighted by the public in a straightforward comparison of two visits — the widely publicized three-day State visit of the French President and the short-term working visit of the German Chancellor.

American-German relations have reached the lowest level since the end of the Second World War
American-German relations have reached the lowest level
since the end of the Second World War

E. Macron better than any other European leader has understood how to respond adequately to the phenomenon of D. Trump. Paris, unlike Berlin, participated in strikes on the Assad regime's objects in Syria. France invests 1.7 % of its GDP in defense spending and intends to reach 2% by 2024, in line with the commitments of NATO member states proclaimed by them in 2014.

American-German relations, on the contrary, have reached the lowest level since the end of the Second World War. In particular, the government of the FRG looks somewhat negative, if we take into consideration the priorities of the US administration in Europe:

  • nationalist forces in Germany accuse German generosity to refugees;
  • protectionists express acute criticism of excessive spending in Germany's trade policy;
  • militarists express dissatisfaction with the fact that Berlin did not participate in the Coalition's strikes against Syria;
  • Russian lobbyists and skeptics are guided by the implementation of the gas pipeline “Nord Stream 2”;
  • even the relatively pro-European Pentagon is disappointed with the insufficient spending on the defense of the national armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundeswehr), which does not reach 1.2 % of GDP.

As one of the unfavorable factors for negotiations on the eve of A. Merkel's visit to the United States is mentioned the fact that after the latest changes in the US government, Germany has lost important negotiating partners, including National Security Adviser H. McMaster. It is noted that his successor, J. Bolton, has criticized A. Merkel's policy regarding refugees who threaten Germany and other countries with the risk of terrorism.

It is also noted that there are specific historical reasons for Washington's current cool attitude to Germany. In particular, in 2014, the Federal President, Federal Foreign Minister and German Defense Minister in Munich pledged unanimously that Germany, in line with its growing power, would take on greater responsibility for the world in the future. Today, Germany's foreign policy is overwhelmed with tension inside the country, in Europe and around Europe. Berlin's attempts to disguise their own helplessness and lack of ideas will affect even the still remaining Germany's friends in Washington.

E. Macron better than any other European leader has understood how to respond adequately to the phenomenon of D. Trump
E. Macron better than any other European leader has understood
how to respond adequately to the phenomenon of D. Trump

A sharp question is raised about the quality and content of Germany's foreign policy, its capability of responding to events and demands not passively, but preventively. The question is whether Germany is aware of its foreign policy that, despite the effects of globalization, the risk of conflict has increased throughout the world, even among EU allies, and that the open Europe also has enemies? It is emphasized that attempts of political self-isolation and distancing from foreign problems can be observed everywhere. Like any other part of the world, Europe lives at the expense of global migration of people, goods and information. In case if the United States stops supporting Germany's policy in Europe, the Germans will face a vitally important issue of protecting their own well-being and their own security. So, on the eve of the German Chancellor's visit to the United States, Germany must invest more in and beyond Europe. This can restore Germany's relationship with the United States.

Despite the understanding that the Chancellor is facing a difficult situation with regard to her coalition and party commitments, her political perspectives are somewhat overestimated today and that she does not have much time left. Her country is experiencing a period of significant changes, and sometimes it seems that the members of her government have a different point of view.

At the same time, in negotiations with US President, A. Merkel may say (like once was written by E. Macron's predecessor, French General Charles de Gaulle) that openness, responsibility, good neighborliness and appeasement to the world could become a vision of Germany as an ideal country. Germany declares and keeps its promises. Only this can buy the commitment of the US President, to convince him of constructiveness of Germany and the head of its government.

 

Thus, the international and geopolitical situation in the world, due to events and summits in Washington and Toronto, is characterized by the following factors.

1. In the international arena, a new political partner of US President D. Trump appeared in Europe. E. Macron, during his successful visit to the United States, fulfilled both the political tasks of France and his own, having consolidated the role of D. Trump's special political favorite. The UK and Germany in the near future, will remain important strategic partners for the United States in Europe and in the world, but their role will be reduced compared to that of France.

In the international arena, a new political partner of US President D. Trump appeared in Europe — E. Macron
In the international arena, a new political partner of
US President D. Trump appeared in Europe — E. Macron

2. It is expedient and necessary in the future to coordinate positive for EU countries and allies in the EU decisions in the negotiations with the United States with E. Macron's personal point of view.

3. The United States' influence on the political processes taking place within G7 and the content of the final political decisions made at G7 summit remains decisive.

4. The inclusion into the work of the G7 summit (for the first time in its history) of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine testifies to the desire of the international community to see Ukraine among the European developed countries. The recommendations of the summit on the intensification of political and economic processes in Ukraine demonstrate Europe's being interested in the development of democracy in Ukraine and the building of a modern European society in it. The agenda of the summit in Toronto provided for the consideration of many issues of direct relevance to Ukraine.

Ukraine’s joining the G7 summit testifies to the international community’s desire to see it among the European developed countries
Ukraine’s joining the G7 summit testifies to the international community’s desire to see it among
the European developed countries

5. The German Chancellor's negotiations with the US President against the background of the French President's triumphant visit to the United States will, in the short term, be of great significance for the future role of Germany and personally its Chancellor in the process of European integration and supporting the processes of collective security.

6. The geopolitical prospects of Ukraine, in view of the above-mentioned events, remain significant and have a tendency to develop if Ukraine takes the necessary state decisions and observes the recommendations of European institutions.