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Interview: German expert expects G8 to continue closer dialogue with developing nations
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14:52, July 05, 2008

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A German scholar has expressed the hope that the Group of Eight (G8) major industrialized nations will continue strengthened dialogue with major developing countries to seek solutions to pressing global problems.

Katharina Gnath, an international organization specialist at the German Council on Foreign Relations, told Xinhua that one of the expectations she has for the upcoming annual G8 summit on July 7-9 in Japan is that the Japanese presidency of the G8 would carry on and revitalize the so-called Heiligendamm Process initiated at last year's G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany.

"It's a dialogue process at which people try to take into account the changed economic balance of power in the world and to get five important major developing nations, including China, India and Brazil, more involved in the discussions and decision-making process," said Gnath in a recent interview with Xinhua.

She also said last year's G8 summit under the German presidency had made important steps toward an international climate change policy and she hopes that this year's summit will come up with some new announcements or agreements in this respect.

Gnath also noted that the past year was characterized by a series of international economic and financial problems or crises, including the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis as well as the recent global food crisis and surging oil prices.

"The G8 summit involves major economies, which not only cover a big share of global demand, but also have massive resources. It is hoped that the G8 would consider how to come up with concerted action to achieve, for example, more transparency in financial markets, and put forward urgently needed proposals to solve the food crisis," she said.

The German expert said that the G8 is politically important because it can set new international agenda and stimulate discussions. But the G8 also has its limits, she added. "It is less important when it comes to concrete projects where other international institutions are more important."

Gnath noted that one of the problems with the G8 is that it has gone beyond its own responsibility area by not only trying to seek coordination among member nations, but also trying to set standard or making policy for all countries.

"Of course the G8 is not a widely representative or formal system which covers all regions, population groups or interests," Gnath said.

But she also said that although it is "theoretically attractive" to expand the G8 membership to include major developing nations or to replace it with the Group of 20 (G20) as suggested by Canada in the 1990s, it is politically unfeasible because it would make the G8 less efficient.

On the other hand, Gnath stressed that the G20 also has its own virtue because it is more representative, which can make contributions to international discussions in parallel to the G8 rather than replacing it.

She personally believes that the Heiligendamm Process with strengthened cooperation with five major developing countries, namely Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa, is useful.

Gnath admitted that the Heiligendamm Process has also problems because "it is a two-class society in which the G8 nations make the main circle while the so-called outreach five countries are only involved in certain topics and do not participate in full agenda."

But she argued that it might be the best possible solution at the moment for the G8 and major developing nations to discuss important global issues and seek cooperation.

"It's not only morally right to get major emerging markets more involved in discussions, it's also important for efficiency's sake because many global problems, such as climate change and energy issues, cannot be solved without participation of countries like China and India," Gnath said.

Source: Xinhua

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