But nation’s presidency of grouping brings challenges amid opportunities

Germany’s G7 presidency will be an important opportunity for the new German government to make an impact on the global stage, international relations experts say.

Germany took over the presidency on Jan 1 in a group that consists of it, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. The G7 summit this year is due to be held at Elmau in the Bavarian Alps from June 26 to 28.

Climate change, the pandemic, international collaboration and global economic recovery are among key topics laid out by leaders of Germany’s new coalition government, one that has taken office after 16 years of rule by Angela Merkel.

“We will use our presidency so that this group of states becomes a pioneer-a pioneer for a climate-neutral economy and equitable world,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz, of the Social Democratic Party, or SDP, said in a New Year speech on Dec 31.

“International cooperation is important. In a world that will soon be home to 10 billion people, our voices will only be heard if we perform in a choir with many others.”

Germany’s Finance Minister, Christian Lindner, said, “We must overcome the pandemic and drive the global economic recovery,” and the Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, stressed the battle against climate change in an interview with local media. Climate policy would be a key part of the country’s foreign policy, “and thus a central issue during our G7 presidency”, she was quoted as saying.

The German presidency comes as tensions between the West and Russia have risen over Ukraine. Germany has been caught in the middle as Washington pushes Berlin to suspend the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with Russia.

SPD General Secretary Keven Kuehnert said the project should not be mixed up with responses to Russia’s territorial controversies with Ukraine and human rights issues, Reuters reported on Saturday.

“The G7 is less and less relevant in today’s multipolar world but Germany’s G7 presidency represents an important global debut for Germany’s new ruling coalition and an opportunity for the country’s new chancellor to make an impact on the international stage,” said Shada Islam, founder of the global strategy and advisory firm New Horizons Project, in Brussels.

Scholz should use the G7 pulpit to deal seriously with the question of vaccine inequity and to push for an inclusive economic recovery, she said.

However, she warned that people should “not be naive”.

“While the G7 can wax lyrical about the benefits of cross-border solidarity, members of the group are not walking their lofty talk. Their promises and pledges therefore will be received with a huge pinch of salt by other nations.”

It is important for Germany as G7 chair to coordinate and work hand in hand with Indonesia, the new chair of the G20, Islam said.

He Zhigao, a researcher in the Institute of European Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the G7 summit in June and the subsequent NATO summit in Madrid are likely to be used by the West, especially the US, to counter China’s and Russia’s global influence.

“While it might still be the case during the German presidency, how much Germany is willing to fully align its policy with the US remains to be seen,” he said.

Adolf Kloke-Lesch, a former German development official and a co-chair of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, based in New York and Paris, cautioned against using the G7 as an ideological bloc that could drive countries into the camp of adversaries.

“If we try to shape the world along a historic struggle between the West and evil-that is leading to nothing,” the news website The National of the United Arab Emirates quoted him as saying.