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G8/20: The Issues Pt. 5

G8 Foreign Policy Issues Big and Small

by Gwalgen Geordie Dent


Toronto - With a heavy focus on G8/20 security, protesters, weapons and summit costs, Mainstream Media have been accused of failing to cover another important aspect of the G8/20: the issues.  The Toronto Media Co-op takes aim at the Toronto G8/20 agenda and the grassroots response in this fifth part of a week-long series.

Foreign relations or 'security' has been a long standing topic on the G8 agenda.

A host of issues could be the focus of the Summit: the occupation of Western Sahara, the Tamil-Sri Lankan conflict, ongoing war in the Congo, democracy in Saudi Arabia, follow up to the Tsunami aid and reconstructure, etc.

However the G8 has genrally focused on issues which enrage G8 countries: for this meeting, namely Iran and North Korea.

"Security issues will dominate the G8," says Greg Albo, Professor of Political Economy at York University. "Namely the wars in Middle-East, as well as Iran and North Korea." Acording to Albo, becasuse China is in the G20, it is much more difficult to discuss these security goals there due to China's international influence and agenda.  The G8, being made up of powerful Western Nations and Russia, essentially acts as a forum for the West to negotiate with Russia over key issues.

Press releases and quotes certaintly indicate that the G8 and will try to pressure both nations.  Speaking in March, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said that Russia was considering implementing sanctions on Iran, though other reports contradict this.

“Canada obviously will be very present with the other countries to support initiatives that either come from the UN Security Council or that might stem from discussions that would take place on the margins of the G8, or at the G8 summit,” he said.

A report in Kyodo News, outlined a strategy to get North Korea to return to G8 friendly peace talks: "On North Korea, the G8 ministers also “strongly” urged the return to the long-stalled six-party talks. The ministers also called on North Korea to address the concerns of the international community about the humanitarian situation in the reclusive country, including issues related to its past abductions of Japanese nationals."

However, besides Iran and North Korea, a number of other less publicized issues are being discussed.

  • In March G8 foreign ministers met in Quebec to talk about Nucear prolifieration in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • Security in Yemen has also been high on the G8 agenda according to the Globe and Mail.  A hodgepodge of security funding has reached Yemen for various security measures, but has never been coordinated successfully. 
  • While Canada is giving the African Development Bank an additional loan of $2.8 billion and trying to support the Africa Union, the Guardian has recently reported that Canada's new health initiative may aim to take focus off G8 failures from the Gleneagles Summit.   "The initiative came amid signs that the summit communiqué from the G8 would omit all mention of the promises made at Gleneagles in July 2005.  Recent analysis from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has shown that rich countries are well off track to hit 2010 targets, with only $11bn of the $25bn a year for Africa actually delivered.  Canada made only modest promises, which it has met, and was today pressing the G8 to increase spending on maternal health."
  • Recontructing Haiti aims to be another focus of foreign policy.  In April, G20 finance ministers “agreed to support full relief of Haiti’s debt, including through burden sharing, and welcomed the agreement to relieve its debt and the establishment of the Haiti Reconstruction Fund," according to Reuters.
  • Meanwhile the G20 Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering is focusing on Nepal after having blacklisted Iran, Angola, North Korea, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and São Tomé and Principe.  According to the Kathmandu Post, "Nepal must criminalize money laundering and terrorism financing, establish and implement adequate procedures to identify and freeze terrorist assets, implement procedures to confiscate funds related to money laundering, and enact and implement mutual legal assistance legislation."

Geordie Gwalgen Dent is a contributing and sustaining member of the Toronto Media Co-op.  This is the fourth part of a week-long series.  The first part can be found here. The second part can be found here, the third part here, the fouth part here.

Curious as to why tens of thousands are protesting the G8/G20 summits?  Go to 2010.mediacoop.ca for up to the minute G20 and G8 Summit Protest Reporting, straight 'outta the Alternative Media Centre!

 


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