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G7 summit in France

Good use made of the chance to discuss issues

Chancellor Angela Merkel has drawn a positive conclusion at the end of the G7 summit in the French resort of Biarritz, with convergence on participants’ divergent opinions on Iran, an emergency assistance package to help affected states tackle the fires raging in the Amazon rainforest, and a new four-way meeting on the conflict in Ukraine. 

Chancellor Angela Merkel during a G7 session At a special session the G7 heads of state and government discussed the situation in Syria Photo: Bundesregierung/Denzel

"There was a very good atmosphere in which we had very many important discussions," explained Chancellor Angela Merkel at the end of the three-day summit. She pointed to the importance of the G7. "If we were to discuss everything we can address here with different partners at bilateral level, we would have to be away for days on end and travel a long way." 

Under the banner "Reducing inequalities" French President Emmanuel Macron invited G7 leaders to the summit in Biarritz. As well as the heads of state and government of the G7 states, individual African states, Australia, Chile and India were in Biarritz, while civil society representatives attended selected sessions.

Forest fire in Amazonia – 20 million euros in emergency assistance

One key issue addressed at the summit was the devastating forest fires currently raging in the Amazon region. The G7 nations are to provide a total of 20 million euros for the immediate financing of firefighting aircraft for the worst affected states in South America. Before the summit began, Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a clear signal for an end to the fires. "Everything must be done" to stop the rainforest from burning, she declared. "Emmanuel Macron is quite right. Our house is on fire – we cannot simply look away and say nothing."

Once the forest fires are extinguished, she announced at a press conference on Sunday evening, talks would be held with Brazil to agree on reafforestation. "This will be a long-term commitment," Angela Merkel continued. "The lungs of our entire planet are affected. That is why we need to work together to find solutions."

As well as Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and French Guayana are affected by the forest fires. 

Dialogue with Iran

The situation in Iran was another major issue. There was agreement, reported the Chancellor that Iran must not be allowed to have nuclear weapons. All parties want "to achieve this result at the negotiating table," she underlined. Every effort is worthwhile to "move this massive conflict in a direction that will involve more talks once again," continued Angela Merkel.

One-on-one talks with President Trump 

A one-on-one meeting with President Donald Trump also looked at how the international community should proceed vis à vis Iran. Angela Merkel and Donald Trump also talked about the trade conflicts between the USA and the EU. The German government is actively promoting negotiations aimed at ending import duties on industrial goods. 

A strong WTO for a strong global economy

The G7 leaders also looked at the global economic situation, where they see "serious risks within the global economy, some of which are linked to uncertainty regarding trade issues", explained Angela Merkel. 

The situation in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was another matter discussed. Germany is working to reform the WTO and strengthen its human resources. "Arbitration is decreasing although the number of cases registered keeps increasing," warned Angela Merkel. "Personally, I believe that by strengthening the WTO we would achieve something that is good for all parties," she continued. "It is my belief that when all countries around us are doing well, the global economy as a whole benefits."

Strengthening the Sahel states

On Sunday afternoon the G7 states met with representatives of African states for consultations. Specifically they discussed development and promotion options for the Sahel region. 

The discussion with African states supplements the Compact with Africa established in 2017 during Germany’s G20 Presidency. It is intended to improve the conditions for trade and private investment in Africa, in order to establish infrastructure projects there and create jobs. This will mitigate the inequalities between the continents and thus lessen one of the root causes of migration from Africa.

Following the meeting, Germany and France announced a "Partnership for Security and Stability". The aim of the initiative, they said is to strengthen the armed forces and police forces of the G5 Sahel states, thus improving security in the region. Before the end of the year a conference is to be held to attract supporters for the initiative. 

This is an extremely urgent matter. It is a "race against terrorists". In this context, Angela Merkel pointed to developments in Libya and within the G5 Sahel community. There can be no development without security, she said and "that is why we must improve security".

The Sahel zone is a transitional vegetation and climate zone in North Africa. It is bordered by the Sahara Desert in the North and wooded savanna in the South, exposing it to both extremes of weather, with regular droughts and strong flooding caused by prolonged heavy rainfall. Harvests fail, bringing famine, engendering political instability and fuelling migration.

Clear signal for more climate action

On Monday morning the G7 tackled climate, biodiversity and our oceans. The commitment of many countries to become climate neutral by 2050 is "crucially important" said Angela Merkel. 

The G7 is the group of leading economies and democracies. In addition to the Federal Republic of Germany, it includes France, Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada and Japan. There is not currently any question of returning to the G8 format, with Russia. All G7 partners support the decision taken in 2014 to suspend Russia because of the unlawful annexation of Crimea. It was and is possible to expand the group again at any time on the basis of shared values, with the agreement of all G7 partners.

Aug 26, 2019