G20 Summit: Progress or deadlocks?

Originally published in the Greek weekly newspaper “Paraskinio”, issue 586, p. 47, on July 8, 2017

Since yesterday, the summit of the 20 richest countries in the world is under way in Hamburg, under the shadow of protests against foreign leaders organized by left-wing German parties. This summit is in the midst of increasing tensions throughout the world. The US exit from the climate agreement will be at the center for a number of Western countries. In this summit is the first official meeting of the new US President with his Russian counterpart. An important point is that the Saudi king is not present at the session, due to the tension between the Kingdom and Germany, as a result of the German position for the crisis with Qatar, and is represented by Saudi finance minister Mohammad Jadaan. The main issues to be discussed at the summit between the 20 leaders are the fight against terrorism, the climate, the Syrian crisis and the escalation of tension in the Middle East among the Gulf states, as well as the crisis in Libya.

The Trump meeting with Russian President Putin is the most important of this summit. The talks between the two Presidents will probably include the Syrian crisis, as well as the increased tensions between the Russian troops stationed in Syria and the US forces in the last period. The issue of ISIS will also be discussed and an effort will be made to find a compromise solution that will satisfy both parties in relation to the distribution of power in the liberalized territories. Finally, talks will include North Korea. Russia, which is influential in the North Korean administration, is still trying to increase the pressure on Washington on this issue. However, things are still complicated to achieve a definitive solution to these crises.

It is also likely that President Trump will meet with German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron. Germany will focus on NATO and its strengthening and France in the Libyan crisis where Macron is likely to increase pressure on Washington to find a definitive solution due to the impact of the ongoing war on southern European countries – France and Italy – which are heavily dependent on Libyan energy sources.

In recent days, we have seen many communications between Turkish and US officials about the Battle of Raqqa and the equipment of Kurdish militias in northern Syria. President Trump, on his own initiative, contacted his Turkish counterpart, trying to smooth out Turkish objections. However, a Western source confirmed to me that communication had no effect and that the Turkish administration does not trust the US government on this issue. The Turkish President is likely to meet with his US counterpart in the G20, and the Kurdish dossier will be at the top of the talks, as Erdoğan will try to put pressure on Trump to find a solution to the ongoing crisis for a month of the Gulf countries. Of course, the US government, which benefits from tension through defense contracts with both sides of the conflict, continues to play its own game.

The whole world is experiencing difficult times because of many international problems such as climate change, poverty and chronic crises that find no solution to stop the suffering of the peoples. In the midst of all these, the tension between the great powers is growing, pointing to a worse future. Thus, the lack of influence of international organizations such as the UN and the Security Council becomes increasingly apparent. The worst of all, however, is the turbulent personalities that represent the international political class.