ANALYSIS - G7 No Longer Fits Global Realities, Ad Hoc Expanded Meetings Unlikely To Help

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 03rd June, 2020) The Group of Seven (G7) no longer fits global realities, while US President Donald Trump's attempts to expand the upcoming meeting to include Russia, India, Australia and South Korea would not help as these are random and ad hoc invitations, experts told Sputnik.

On Saturday, Trump said that the United States is postponing the G7 summit, originally planned for June, until September and plans to invite the leaders of the four nations in a bid to refresh "this very outdated group of countries." According to the US president, he does not feel that the G7 "properly represents what's going on in the world." White House spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said that Washington would bring the club together to talk about how to deal with China.

In a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, Trump shared his plans to hold the G7 meeting in an expanded format.

WHOLE IDEA IS TO HAVE RUSSIA BACK?

"This format has been in place since the 1970s and no longer reflects current global realities, but I don't think this particular expansion captures what is needed. Why no Latin American country? Australia is seen as a reliable US ally," Wyn Grant, a professor of international politics at Warwick University, told Sputnik.

Karen J. Alter, a professor of political science and law at Northwestern University in Illinois, is also surprised by Trump's choice of the invitees.

"I read the entire goal as being to include Russia. Australia and S. Korea are randomly included, for no clear reason. Why these two countries? It makes no real sense. In the US, we are used to Trump throwing in distractions. Listing these 2 other countries is a distraction," Alter told Sputnik.

The expert went on to say that if the objective were to ensure wider representation, there are other groupings, and if there were a genuine desire to discuss coronavirus, the global community has a specialized UN agency.

"There are other groupings G20 for example. If this issue is the pandemic, the WHO is the right convening unit, or the countries in a position to supply a vaccine. If the issue is the global economy, then the G7 is where the major central banks are," she said.

David A. Welch, a professor of political science at Canada's University of Waterloo, believes that Australia and South Korea are right candidates to be invited to the meeting, unlike Russia.

"In the past, it has often been valuable to have leaders of a handful of states to attend G7 summits as observers. Some are worthy of being invited, and some are not. From Trump's proposed list, I would say that Australia and South Korea would be worth inviting. There is absolutely no way that Russia should be invited to a G7 summit in view of its illegal seizure of Crimea in violation of international law, established norms ... Russia's ongoing interference in Ukraine's internal affairs in the Donbass region is a further fully sufficient reason to exclude it," Welch, who is also a Centre for International Governance senior fellow and the chair of global security at the Balsillie school of International Affairs, told Sputnik.

Russia was a part of the G8 format that had been in place from 1998-2014. The club was reduced to the G7 over Ukraine and Crimea, with the West accusing Moscow of annexing the peninsula and interfering in the neighbor nation's internal affairs, something Russia has denied. Moscow has repeatedly said that it is seeking no reinstatement in the format, seeing G20 and other formats as more representative platforms to address global issues.

According to the expert, he "would not favour any permanent membership expansion of the G7, merely ad hoc invitations to a small number of leaders to observe."

"Trump can, of course, invite Putin if and when the United States hosts a G7 summit, but other G7 leaders would almost certainly boycott. And rightly so," Welch argued.

Professor Grant of Warwick University similarly drew attention to the opposition of Canada and the UK to any idea of reinstating Russia.

"Canada has expressed particularly strong views. Relations between the UK and Russia have been difficult for some time and this response is predictable. There has been very little attention paid to the response in the UK," Grant said.

On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that Russia should "remain out" of G7 over its "continued disrespect and flaunting of international rules and norms." Trudeau added that unlike G20, which includes Russia, the G7 "has always been a place for frank conversations with allies and friends who share so much." He said that it was something Ottawa is "hoping to continue to see."

The same day, the Downing Street said that it would not support Russia's readmittance either. The British prime minister's office at the same noted that it is "customary for the country that holds the G7 presidency to invite other leaders to participate as guests in the summit."

Along with Russia, another important country that remains out of the club is China, whose relations with the US soured after the Trump administration accused it of trying to cover up the coronavirus outbreak at the initial stage and threatened sanctions over proposed security legislation for Hong Kong.

"There are very clear and rising tensions between the US and China. There are also strong demands within the Conservative Party in Britain for a less close relationship with China. An expanded format without China is of limited value. Clearly all this is influenced by the US presidential election," Grant said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Tuesday notably slammed Trump's initiative to discuss Beijing at the summit, saying that "seeking a clique targeting China is not a popular move, and it doesn't serve the interests of countries concerned."