Russia assumes G8 presidency, lays out key agenda

Russian President Vladimir Putin has outlined the plan for the joint work of the group – which includes the US, the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Britain, Japan, Canada, Russia and representatives of the European Union – in a statement published on a newly-launched website for Russia’s G8 presidency.
Russia’s motto for its 2014 G8 presidency is “Risk Management for Sustainable Growth in a Safe World,” the statement said.

Based on this motto, the priority issues advanced by Russia include “fighting the drug menace, combating terrorism and extremism, settling regional conflicts, safeguarding people’s health, and establishing a global management system to address risks associated with natural and manmade disasters,” Putin wrote.

He added that “numerous other issues that have previously been raised by the G8” have also been included, and some of them have already been discussed in St. Petersburg in 2006 during Russia’s first G8 presidency.

The Russian president said that “the world has not become safer in recent years, but it has undoubtedly become more complicated,” saying that while the violent conflicts are growing in numbers, the system of international law is “losing ground.”


Image from g8russia.ruImage from


In 2013, the meetings of Russia and some of its G8 club partners have been crucial in avoiding the escalation of the Syrian crisis at a point when a foreign intervention into the war-torn country seemed unavoidable. Another international group that includes Russia, P5+1, worked out a landmark agreement with Iran on its nuclear program, raising hopes for international trade and investment opportunities in still heavily-sanctioned country.

G8 countries have also been playing a leading role in the global economy, producing 50 percent of the world’s GDP and making 38 percent of its exports and imports combined, according to figures given at the Also, according to Interfax, the G8 economies together produce 32 percent of the world’s energy.

According to Putin, Russia does not view the G8 as “an elite club of world leaders who discuss the destiny of humanity behind closed doors.” In line with this stance, non-governmental G8 groups – Youth 8, Civil 8, Business 8 and Parliamentary 8 – are going to provide “crucial support to Russia”during its G8 presidency.

The idea of transparency and those of “dynamism, innovation and progress” have been reflected in the constructivist logo for Russia’s presidency, inspired by the Russian Avant-Garde art movement of the early 20th century, the official webpage says. The circles-based logo is also meant to be an allusion to the fact that the June 4-5 G8 summit will take place in the southern Russian Black Sea resort city of Sochi, which is hosting the Winter Olympics in February.

The international forum started as a Group of Six in 1975, saw Canada and the EU representatives added in 1976 and 1977, and grew to G8 since Russia’s official joining the Group of Seven in 1997. Although the G7 meetings still take place, with the latest having been in the UK last May on the level of finance ministers of the countries, they have focused on pressing economic issues and are not summoned every year. The G8 meetings are annual and have included broader range of topics, such as global security, healthcare and education.


Weekly Review: Last Week’s Top 5 International Business Headlines

1France Eyes Libya Deals After Unfreezing $2 Billion Assets   (

France said on Monday it was ready to start releasing almost $2 billion in frozen assets belonging to Libya’s sovereign wealth fund, as it looks to secure investment from the oil-producing nation. France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius made the announcement during a visit to Tripoli, the latest in a series of high-level French political and business delegations to the OPEC member. France spearheaded efforts to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi last year and, as part of wide-ranging international sanctions, froze about $8-9 billion in assets held in France. Read all.

2. East or West? Ukraine to Choose its Path Ahead of EU Summit this Month (Washington Post)

According to an old folk tradition, if a man knocks on the door of a Ukrainian beauty with a marriage proposal but does not win her heart, she will reject her suitor by presenting him with a pumpkin. Who will get the pumpkin from Ukraine at the end of this month — Russia or the European Union? Read all.

3. Europe’s Economic Rules. Berlin vs Brussels (The Economist)

SINCE the euro crisis started in early 2010, the debtor nations on the periphery of Europe have become used to strictures from Germany, not least for running big balance-of-payments deficits. On November 13th, for once, it was Germany’s turn to face a possible ticking-off. For the first time since more stringent rules and oversight were put in place to try to avert future crises, the euro area’s unofficial leader, hub economy and chief creditor is to be investigated. Its misdemeanour? Running too big a current-account surplus. Read all.

4. Is Europe Turning Japanese? (Wall Street Journal)

The euro zone’s 0.7% October inflation reading convinced the European Central Bank to cut interest rates last week. It also spurred a lot of nervous talk that low inflation and slow growth mean Europe is entering a Japanese-style “lost decade.” There are ominous similarities between the euro zone today and Japan at various points in the 1990s, even if you allow that economies can stagnate each in their own way. But there are also reasons not to believe that Europe is doomed to suffer Japan’s malaise. Read all.

5. Economic Overhaul: China Opens Doors to More Private Competition       (Russia Today)

In the biggest economic turnaround in two decades China’s leaders have pledged more private competition in dominant state industries. The new economic plan aims at rejuvenating a slowing economy and also eases limits on foreign investment in e-commerce. The changes promised in a Friday report issued after a closely watched Communist Party conference compares with the effort at market-style reforms in 1978 that launched China’s economic boom, the Associated Press says citing the state media. Read all.