POST-BIARRITZ: G-7 or G-8 ? | publicatii - Politica La Est
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POST-BIARRITZ: G-7 or G-8 ?

Mihail E. Ionescu
 
Second part 
 
Reactions of  the  interested experts to that eventuality have been more nuanced, going so far to reach the practicability of G-8. Some tweets written about that issue immediately after Biarritz:
“@ulrichspeck
 
G7/8 needs Russia because without Russia you can’t solve important problems. If that’s what Trump (and to a degree Macron) think, the case for inviting China much stronger. And if Russia, why not India? But then, why three Europeans countries plus EU on the table? /1;
 
 G7/8 a club of like-minded states who can speak openly about most pressing issues in a relaxed atmosphere. Russia had been brought in because the hope was to socialize it into like-mindedness which clearly didn’t happen. No good case for bringing it back. /2;
 
Of course the whole idea can be trashed and the G7/8 reinvented as a forum to manage global geopolitics. Then there is a strong case for Chinese and Russian participation. But isn’t there also the UN Security Council? And what about the G20? /3;
 
Bottom line: Bringing the Russia of today in makes no sense as it would end the character of the G7/8 as forum of likeminded countries, as the case for China much stronger, and as this would require a full reordering of the global multilateral architecture. /4 “.[1]
9:15 AM · Aug 26, 2019·Twitter for iPhone
 
The German foreign policy analyst whom we have quoted above , working with GMF in Berlin, is connecting that issue of participation of Putin next year at the G-7 with the new policy of Macron towards Russia ( implying perhaps that the invitation extended by French President to Putin on the eve of the Biarritz reunion has been at least in accord with Trump ). Here are his thoughts about :
 

“@ulrichspeck
On the European level, Macron's call for a new Russia policy means that France won't leave leadership on Russia anymore to Germany. Since 2014 Hollande has very much followed the German lead. In return France was expecting support for its Mediterranean / African agenda. /1
 
Macron now tries to take the Ukraine dossier in his hands, with a summit in the Normandy format (France, Germany, Ukraine, Russia) in Paris. He apparently wants to remove the Ukraine ‘obstacle’ in order to move forward on the agenda he laid out, a rapprochement with Russia. /2
 
Yet there is a reason why this ‘obstacle’ remains in place: Russia is not ready to end its war against Ukraine and give back Crimea. Charming words from the French president won't change the Russian position. Risk is that Macron will declare victory and move on with Russia. /3
10:53 AM · Aug 29, 2019” .[2]
 
 According to that interpretation, the next year participation of Putin at the ( US hosted) G-8 is closely connected with the ‘ new Russian policy’ of French President.  Giving the fact that also China, if not also India would have merits to be part of that format, would be better off  to keep G-7 as a  reunion of “ likeminded countries” , meaning the old Western  democracies. Among the motives invoked by that logic is that  the step envisaged by Trump ( and Macron ) regarding Russia will presume an entire overhaul of the global multilateral architecture .
 
Of course , in that kind of analysis it is perhaps a bit of frustration that Germany  is left aside of that development of events; more than that  it is  said that there are ‘obstacles’ for the implementation of the ‘ new Russian policy’ – like the will of Russia to continue the war in Ukraine (?!? )-which would be proved as insurmountable ( at least on the reading/forecast of U. Speck) .  As a matter of fact, U. Speck has expressed the same opinion in an article published in “Neue Zuricher Zeitung” ,  in which he said eloquently  that  unlike Germany, which is in principle opposed  to Trump’ foreign policy, France plays pragmatically   (“Unlike Germany, which is in principle opposition to Trump, France remains flexible. Although Trump visibly wrinkles his nose at what Macron is saying, the French leader is tirelessly trying to ensnare the American president. “ ).

Here is a clear cut depiction of the EU politics of today at the highest  level of leadership and decision . To be clear, in the article, the expert showed the pros and cons in G-7 for bringing Russia in. Firstly, he is presenting the rationale for such a move of pros: “About the motives Trumps can speculate excellently. A plausible variant is that in times of a fundamental dispute with China, the American president wants to prevent Moscow from joining too closely with Beijing - and thus forming an anti-American bloc. The invitation to G-7/8 would then be a ‘carrot’: an attempt to break Russia out of the front line with China and lure it into Western, US-led camps.   “[3]  And after he gave us the necessary information:” And Emmanuel Macron has shown, at least between the lines, a certain candor, Italy too. Japan was reportedly neutral. The rejection front was led by Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.“ [4] So, for reading ourselves between the lines: is anything ( a deal, I mean ) between UK and Germany regarding the future of Brexit and leadership of EU ?  We have seen  that Germany is already ready to tame UK in terms of “Irish backstop”  in  order not to let France to take the lead of EU ? Or, the other way around, France and Germany  ( Macron and Merkel ) are pursuing a very sophisticated game to keep UK  close to EU , and not let London to evade from  Europe  ?
 
Difficult questions and  very hazardous answers . What is on the table now it is that USA ( President Trump ) is ready to restore G-8, Macron ( France ) also, and that Germany and UK are against . What about Russia ?

Usually , Russia is not very prompt to answer to the invitations like that.  Kremlin has considered enough for the moment to say that would consider the proposal and let its clear attitude on the limb.
As a matter of fact, Kremlin is entitled to adopt such an attitude, if we are considering its own narrative about what has happened at the end of the Cold War and after that. According to the Kremlin reading of the post-Cold War era, Russia has been the first to ask for being allied with the West, including to become ally of the USA after  ‘September 11’, seeking with that occasion  even to join  NATO . More than that, in September 25, 2001- with occasion of the speech in the Bundestag- President of Russia, V. Putin has put on the table the idea of creating of ‘ Greater Europe’  allied with the USA.  “I am just of the opinion that Europe will reinforce its reputation of a strong and truly independent centre of world politics soundly and for a long time if it succeeds in bringing together its own potential and that of Russia, including its human, territorial and natural resources and its economic, cultural and defence potential.”, said Putin to the German deputies on September 25, 2019. And added: “Today we must say once and for all: the Cold War is done with! We have entered a new stage of development. We understand that without a modern, sound and sustainable security architecture we will never be able to create an atmosphere of trust on the continent, and without that atmosphere of trust there can be no united Greater Europe! Today we must say that we renounce our stereotypes and ambitions and from now on will jointly work for the security of the people of Europe and the world as a whole.” [5]

 
President Vladimir Putin with Bundestag President Wolfgang Thierse.

It is one of the strangest curls of contemporary history that an idea which had its origin with the policy of Kremlin is embraced openly by the West ( France ) and offered as such to Russia. Of course, the stakes of such a twist  are extraordinary being connected with geopolitical huge changes on the international arena in the recent years. Russia is becoming a kind of pivot of such developments, inaugurating its coming back to the world arena ( 2015, sending its military to Syria ) with moment when the West decided to answer to the China’s unbelievable rise.
 
Another expert, an excellent reader of the strategic evolution of the today world, has another point of view, or at least arguments to avoid the resurrection of G-8:
 
“Thread
@FHeisbourg
 
Some thoughts on the G8 debate: Russia was invited to join the G7 in 1997. Russia was a Weimarian democracy albeit a disorderly, violent and corrupt one. The expectation was that it would stabilise. In economic and other terms, Russia was still more powerful than China 1/n
7:19 PM · Aug 21, 2019·Twitter for Android
 
In other words, having Russia in a G8 appeared to make sense at the time, politically & economically. These conditions no longer prevail: Russia has moved away from democracy. It's GDP is less than Brazil's and 1/8th of China: economically, it fits into a G20 sized format 2/n;
 
In short, even if Russia were to move back to the status quo ante bellum in Ukraine, it would be difficult to justify recreating a G8, whether the rationale is political democracy or economic power. The upgrading of the G20 may be a more logical route to follow 3/n;
 
Russia continues to have a G2 relationship with the US in the nuclear arena but this could vanish as a bilateral forum if Cold War arms control treaties & practices are rescinded (INF) or allowed to lapse (START?). Russia will of course retain its unchallenged seat on the UNSC 4/4;[6]
Later on, Heisbourg reiterated his point of view:
 
“Aug 25
On a prospective reinstated G8, see my earlier tweets (in short: if G8 is a club of actual or evolving democracies, then Putinian Russia doesn't belong; if it's about economic power, G20 is format of choice). As for the on-going G7, beware of spinning, splitting & blame-shifting[7]
 
From a different angle, Heisbourg considers that Russia doesn’t belong to the “ club of democracies” , so any attempt of recreating G-8 is useless and could be explained only geopolitically  and here the issue of Ukraine is of paramount importance. The fear that the West could abandon Ukraine is permeating any assessment of the experts in the assessment of the move launched  by Trump ( I believe that he knows the French’ s move )  and Macron.

Of course, there are other experts whose points of view are different, going from the extreme to another.  Just read what  is written on  the ‘ Saker blog’ on August 30, 2019: “/…/the globalist New World Order project in its present form is dead, or at least in its death throes. /…/They needed to take over either China or Russia to gain absolute world hegemony. Taking over either one, they would have checkmated the remaining one, and after that the entire world. They rightly deemed Russia as the weaker piece and went all out in that direction. The NOW/ New World Order-our note/  wanted to take advantage of Russia’s weakness in form of its Western minded comprador class and a shell-shocked liberal intelligentsia (dominating media, culture and business, just like in Hong Kong, BTW), which is constitutional incapable of thinking with their own brains to liberate themselves from Soviet era stereotypes (‘Soviet Union/Russia bad, West good’)”.[8]

What is important to note is the  fact that President Trump has been already attacked by the press concerning his intentions for G-7 ( or G-8)  reunion next year in USA. The attacks are connected with what Trump has done at Biarritz and d also his presumably intention to organize G-8 on one of his properties near Miami in 2020. Reacting to these media attacks Trump wrote frequently on his twitter account blaming the ‘ lame stream media’    for ‘ inaccurate’ reporting about G-7, usually depicting  it like “ fake news” .[9]
 
The second important event in Biarritz has been what apparently it is a breakthrough in the Iranian folder/issue, which in recent months and still today is becoming  very hot.

During the days of Biarritz meeting of G-7 has been a huge surprise for the international media , and also for various governments around the world, that Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, booked the chamber at the hotel next to the G-7 reunion building. He showed up on Sunday, August 25, 2019, and immediately has entered in a meeting with French President Macron, not leaving any doubt who had the initiative to invite the head of Iranian diplomacy . The questions began to be addressed, first of all to Macron, the host of the G-7 reunion , the world leader who  presumably invited J. Zarif to come  and who had a meeting with the Tehran’s emissary. As a matter of fact, prior to his arrival in Biarritz, on Friday, two days before, Zarif met Macron in Paris  , according to the twitter account of the Iranian  top diplomat”:
@JZarif
Despite US efforts to destroy diplomacy, met with French President
@EmmanuelMacron and @JY_LeDrian in Paris today. Interviewed with Euronews, AFP, & France24. Multilateralism must be preserved. Next stops Beijing, Tokyo & KL after a day in Tehran.” [10]



 
The following tweet of  Javid Zarif was not from Beijing or Tokyo as he had mentioned above,  but on the end of the day spent in Biarritz, where he had “ extensive talks
@JZarif
Iran's active diplomacy in pursuit of constructive engagement continues. Met @EmmanuelMacronon sidelines of #G7Biarritz after extensive talks with @JY_LeDrian& Finance Min. followed by a joint
8:30 PM · Aug 25, 2019·Twitter for Android[11]
 
The media applied a lot of efforts to figure out how Zarif arrived in Biarritz, who invited him , and what kind of mandate he had during the talks.  It is not so easy to distinguish these realities  due to the intense strange atmosphere surrounding the Iranian folder.

As we know, several weeks ago it was about the imminence of war between the US and Iran regarding the situation in the Ormuz Strait which  is a choke point for about 30 per cent of the daily oil for the world economy.  At the same time we should not forget that , after an American drone was shut down in July  by the Iranians, President Trump has canceled at the last minute a missiles salvo destined to hit  sensible Iranian targets which would have triggered the war between the two  protagonists of the crisis unavoidable .

 
President Hassan  Rouhani of Iran:
@MarkTFitz
No matter how hard Trump’s Iran advisers try to demonize the Islamic republic, the regime is still being taken seriously by all the other major world powers.”[12]
 
Here are what the media found out about that strange visit of  Javid Zarif to  Biarritz. French diplomacy has considered that President Trump needs a ‘pause’ in the pressure on Tehran in order to bring it to the negotiating table for the nuclear agreement  concluded in July 2015,but from which USA has retreated under present-day administration.   Last July, USA had imposed sanctions on Zarif properties in USA, Iranian Minister not having any , according to his own statement . The negotiations in Biarritz was destined to save the image of those Iranian leaders who had been partisans of the agreement , especially Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, and showing the desire to salvage  the 2015 nuclear accord. ‘Al Jazeera’ has reported from  Tehran,  that "[The negotiations in Biarritz are taking place] to save the reputations of those political leaders in Iran that backed this nuclear deal" .[13] On the eve of the Macron-Zarif meeting on August 25 in Biarritz, French officials stated that the issue has been discussed by the G-7 conclave over the dinner and agreed that French President should convey the messages convened . US President Trump said there was no discussion about that.

Very interesting are the details regarding the visit and who knows or not about it are the following tweets gathered on the twitter accounts of Yamiche Alcindor,  News Hour’ and MSNBC’  White House correspondent, at the press conference  given together by Trump and Macron at the end of Biarritz G-7 reunion  : 
“Thread
 @Yamiche
‘French President Emmanuel Macron at the G7 say he “informed” President Trump that he was planning to invite Iran’s foreign minister to the G7 on Saturday which contradicts what President Trump said which is that Macron asked Trump for his approval.’

Macron made it crystal clear that he didn’t ask Trump for permission to invite Iran’s foreign minister to the G7. ‘I did it on my own,’ Macron said as he stood next to Trump. You can feel the tension between them on that topic in the room. Tough.’
6:10 PM · Aug 26, 2019·Twitter for iPhone “ .[14]
 
 … and also tweets of Daniel Dale, CNN correspondent for G-7 in Biarritz , about the same press conference:
 
“ Thread
@ddale8
Trump repeats his usual false claim that Iran was ‘given $150 billion’ as part of the nuclear agreement. It was allowed to access less than $100 billion in its own frozen assets, experts say.’
 
‘Trump says he'd meet with Iran if the ‘circumstances were right,’ but in the meantime, ‘ they have to be good players.’ He adds that Macron told him "every step" about Zarif coming; Trump thought it was ‘too soon’ to meet with Zarif, before issues were worked out, but was aware.’
 
‘Trump says, of relations with Iran, ‘Maybe it works and maybe it doesn't.’  He adds that he says this about ‘everything’: ‘Maybe it works and maybe it doesn't.’
 
‘Asked if he sought Trump's permission to invite Zarif or just informed him after, he said he came up with the idea ‘on my own’ but told Trump he wanted to do it before he did, making clear he wasn't extending the invite on behalf of the US; it was a ‘French initiative.’ ’
 
‘Macron says France is invested in the JCPOA. Trump chimes in to say again that the JCPOA is a bad deal.’ [15]
 
 It is not so important which were the contacts and  understandings between Trump and Macron prior to the unexpected visit of Tehran’ s head of diplomacy  in Biarritz. What is crystal clear is that both Iran and the West are considering that the crisis in the Persian Gulf should be defused and, consequently,  any next move of Iran in the nuclear deal  has to be monitored. Otherwise, with Israel considering that a nuclear weapon of Iran is an existential threat for its own , will act independently and will threaten the stability of entire international system .

 
 President Trump is aware of it. That is why, between the tariff war with China – and perhaps very soon, according to him-the same war with Europe – the head of the White House  is ready for a meeting with the Iranian counterpart.  The newspaper ‘ Washington Post”  realized that when , within an analysis of Biarritz reunion, wrote the following: “At this weekend’s Group of Seven summit, French President Emmanuel Macron delivered an important reality check on the war of ideas between the United States and Iran. The bottom line: Tehran is winning. If anyone needed proof, witness Macron’s decision to invite Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to the meeting. The Trump administration has been pursuing its strategy of ‘maximum pressure’ on Iran for nearly two years now, with zero contacts between the two sides. That may be about to change. With the annual United Nations General Assembly starting in less than a month, face-to-face meetings between U.S. and Iranian officials could materialize quickly.President Trump and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, both said Monday they were open to the idea of meeting.[16]
 
So, a meeting of the US and Iran Presidents , Trump and Rouhani in September 2019  in New York is a possibility. This will settle the paramount issue of the grand strategy of US: will remain focused  in Mideast or will fulfill the real ‘Asian pivot’ concentrating entirely on the Indo-Pacific area ?

But remains an intriguing question: the war against Iran is vanishing from the international agenda ?
 
        Some prudent questions as conclusions after Biarritz:
  1. It is really today the end of the Western domination of the international system, as Macron believes and act accordingly ?
  2. It is so powerful and ominous  the Chinese imprint on the international system in the following years, so to push  USA to decide to change the policy towards Russia and Europe and Mideast in order to counteract  it ?
  3. Is Germany short of political will ( let’s say: imperial hubris ) so to concede the leadership of Europe to France’s Macron ?
  4. Is Russia ready to admit the idea of Greater Europe or will obey the temptation to consider itself  equal to US as the single superpowers of the system ( neglecting, in way or another, or for different motives) the systemic overwhelmingly China ?
  5. Who is playing the best cards in Mideast ?    Russia, USA or who ? Why Europe is missing ? Would Macron be ready to come with an initiative in the Mideast to be complementary to the invitation of the Foreign Minister of Iran to Biarritz ?
  6. How Germany will act in present circumstances ? and  how will be shaped the behavior of UK ?
  7. And , finally, how China will react to that Western  geopolitical  moves ?
 
The answer to these difficult questions will shape the international system of to- morrow. That means that we are now at the threshold of a fundamental systemic reordering .
 
September 3, 2019
 
PS – under the title ‘France pushes $15 billion credit line plan for Iran, if U.S. allows’ in a Reuter press agency  analysis, published on September 3, 2019,   it is specified that”  France has proposed offering Iran about $15 billion in credit lines until year-end if Tehran comes fully back into compliance with its 2015 nuclear deal, a move that hinges on Washington not blocking it, Western and Iranian sources said.”  Also,  it is said that “French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian said talks on the credit arrangement, which would be guaranteed by Iranian oil revenues, were continuing, but U.S. approval would be crucial.” The Tehran position in what has been probably the most important part of the talks in Biarritz between Zarif and French counterpart, is the following: ” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday the Islamic Republic would never hold bilateral talks with the United States - the two have had no diplomatic relations for four decades - but said that if all U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran were lifted, Washington could join multilateral talks between Tehran and the other parties to the 2015 pact. “ As a issues on the table are : “Iran has asked for $3 billion a month to extend the proposals beyond the end of this year, the source said. Macron has said that as a condition of any credits, Iran must return fully to the terms of the nuclear deal and open a negotiation on those other issues. French officials declined to comment on the details of the plan.“[17] 
 
 
 
 
 
 
[1] https://twitter.com/ulrichspeck/status/1165870336010838017-9:15 AM • Aug 26, 2019•Twitter for iPhone
 
 
[4] Ibidem
[8]  New World Order in Meltdown, But Russia Stronger Than Ever -http://thesaker.is/new-world-order-in-meltdown-but-russia-stronger-than-ever/
[9] “The G-7 was a great success for the USA and all. Lame Stream Media coverage bore NO relationship to what actually happened in France - FAKE NEWS. It was GREAT! 5:45 PM • Aug 27, 2019”- https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1166361079716503553; “In France we are all laughing at how knowingly inaccurate the U.S. reporting of events and conversations at the G-7 is. These Leaders, and many others, are getting a major case study of Fake News at it’s finest! They’ve got it all wrong, from Iran, to China Tariffs, to Boris!2:10 AM • Aug 26, 2019”- https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1165763483322834944
 
[12] https://twitter.com/MarkTFitz/status/1166804276284465159- Mark Fitzpatrick is a former American diplomat
 
[16] Jason Rezaian, Like it or not, talks with Iran are coming soon, in ‘ Washington Post’, August 27, 2019,- https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/08/27/like-it-or-not-talks-with-iran-are-coming-soon/
 

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