by Victor Cherubim
( March 23, 2016, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) The 42 G7 Summit meeting will be held with the Presidents and Prime Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, United States and European Union participating at Shima Kanko Hotel in Kashiko Island, in sight of the cherry blossoms of Spring 2016.
The G8 became the G7 over Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea, at the summit in Brussels in March 2014, after 16 years of Russia’s previous participation.
President Sirisena of Sri Lanka invited to G7
President Maithripala Sirisena has been invited this year to the G7 summit in Japan. It is indeed a rare honour and a first ever for Sri Lanka.
Imagine Sri Lanka, a member of the United Nations, a newly developing and emerging small nation, invited to participate in the G7 outreach sessions with world leaders in Japan. What was the entrance fee?
Imagine, perhaps, the Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, Mangala Samaraweera, if invited attending an advance session of Foreign Ministers of G7 for discussions to be held on April 10/11 2016 in Hiroshima, Japan, part of protocol leading up to the Ise Shima Summit, on issues of global magnitude that face international society.
Imagine, was it Japan or Germany or the UK that mooted Sri Lanka to be invited to this assembly of World Leaders? I guess it was all three. It was because President Sirisena has communicated during his meetings abroad, in his short period of being President of Sri Lanka, that the world can do business with Sri Lanka once again.
This is a feat every Sri Lanka worthy of his name should be proud of and pleased. Sri Lanka has an opportunity never to be missed to strengthen its profile not only with the world leaders but with non G7 countries on issues such as trade and investment in Sri Lanka.
International profile translates into international opportunity
We all know international affairs is not a one night stand, it is a cultivated process. Japan is chairing the Summit this year and the rotating presidency occurs once every 7 years.
Some will say that these meetings are cited in fabulous locations around the world for world leaders to get together and relax. Some others will say that these meetings are a waste of time and money, but nothing substantial is ever really accomplished. Still others will say that because the economies of all these countries are closely locked these meetings are important and give the leaders an opportunity to discuss problems and share ideas, some common, as how to solve them.
There is not much you can do in two days in Japan, listening to “sakura,sakura” in the background, and enjoying “saki” and saying “sayonara.” One cannot believe there have been ten (10) ministerial meetings that Japan will host between April and September 2016 in preparation for what will be achieved at Ise –Shima Summit.
Much is done behind the scenes; the representatives of the PM’s, Presidents’ personal representatives called “sherpas” have done in preparation, to create an environment conducive to free and open discussion.
What can be a done at G7?
One of the major challenges today is promoting economic growth.
A second challenge is poverty, debt and related problems all tied to the question of sustainable development.
A third and a major problem is migration. I cannot say more.
Another is trade liberalisation.
Political issues focus on managing international conflicts and tensions with special reference to migration, international crime, from money laundering to drug and human trafficking.
Economic and social issues require regulation. This cannot be done by one nation or only by the United Nations. One is climate change, another is biodiversity, and still another is child labour.
Wave of issues
I imagine that the G7 Leaders don’t pretend to speak for everybody in the world, on issues they identify. They alone have the right to deal with reform. Each of the G7 too has their own concerns.
Measure of Success
Let me give you an example of the measure of success that Canada achieved by being able to trade free with European Union without restrictions, being not in the EU.
Thinking globally and achieving locally is what it is all about? How can large powers help small Sri Lanka? It is by consensus building. Sri Lanka cannot clear its debt mountain, in as many years, unless the world helps out. Don’t ask the Joint Opposition, ask the common man?