Tuesday, July 8, 2008

FAQs on the G8 Summit

As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh travels to the Japanese island of Hokkaido to participate in the 9th G8 Summit as an outreach partner representing the world's emerging economies, IANS answers some frequently asked questions on the summit:

Q: What is the G8 Summit?

The Group of Eight (G8) Summit is an annual meeting attended by leaders of eight countries - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States - and the president of the European Commission.

Q: What makes the G8 Summit different from other international meetings?

At the Summit, leaders freely and vigorously exchange opinions on a variety of issues facing the global community centring on economic and social problems. They work to reach a consensus to make top-down decisions. As countries become increasingly interdependent in a globalized world, events unfold with drastic speed and the impact of events becomes more significant beyond national borders.

Q: What preparations are made for the G8 Summit?

Preparations for the G8 Summit consist of close liaison among the personal representatives of the G8 leaders, who are known as "Sherpas." The Sherpas receive orders from their leader and coordinate with their Sherpa colleagues.

Q: How did the G8 Summit start?

In the early 1970s, developed countries, faced with problems such as the Nixon Shock (devaluation of the dollar) and the first oil crisis, began to recognize the need for a top-level forum to discuss in a comprehensive manner policy coordination for global economic issues such as macro economy, currencies, trade and energy.

Against this backdrop, the first summit meeting was held as proposed by Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, then president of France, among the six countries, namely France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States at the Chateau de Rambouillet in the suburbs of Paris in November 1975.

Q: What changes have there been to G8 Summit membership?

From the next Puerto Rico Summit in 1976, Canada also attended. In addition, since the London Summit in 1977, the president of the European Union (EU)) has attended. Starting from the Birmingham Summit in 1998, the name of the Summit was changed from G7 to G8, reflecting the inclusion of Russia.

Q: How has the G8 Summit become an annual event?

The Rambouillet Summit of 1975 was recognized for the importance of a forum of leaders of developed countries to discuss policy coordination to address global economic issues. Since then, the leaders have had an annual meeting with the rotating presidency among the countries.

Later, in addition to global economic issues, political issues appeared on the agenda, which included East-West confrontation arising from the Cold War, international issues following the end of the Cold War and North-South issues, along with world affairs of the times. Furthermore, global issues, such as environment, drugs, terrorism and AIDS and other infectious diseases were added to the agenda.

Q. How does India get invited to G8?

India - as one of the world's fastest growing economies - was invited for the first time to a G8 outreach meeting at the 2003 G8 Summit held at Evian, France. Since then India has been participating in the G8 Summits as an outreach country, with the exception of the 2004 Summit held at Sea Island. At the 2005 G8 Gleneagles, Scotland, Summit, India presented a non-paper on the issue of Climate Change wherein a new paradigm for international cooperation for action on climate change was proposed. At the 2006 St Petersburg Summit, India presented four non-papers on global energy security, education; fight against infectious diseases and India's partnership with Africa.

At the Heiligendamm, Germany, Summit in June 2007, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh emphasised the need for more active participation by the five outreach countries (Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa) in future G8 Summits.

Q.What is the venue for the present summit?

Toyako, where the G8 Summit is to be held July 7-9, is one of Hokkaido island's most well-known tourist destinations. Its climate is mild and, being rich in nature, it has beautiful scenery. Hokkaido is one of the four main islands of Japan, an archipelago consisting of about 7,000 islands.

Indo-Asian News Service

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