MOSCOW, January 01, /ITAR-TASS/. Russia’s presidency in the Group of Eight (G8) assumed on January 1, 2014 will help consolidate the efforts towards peaceful resolution of the crisis in Syria and of the Iranian nuclear issue, State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Alexei Pushkov said.
“Russia has taken over the presidency in the Group of Eight at quite a critical time when fundamental progress on Syria and Iran has become visible but has not been achieved yet,” he told ITAR-TASS. “The G8 bears great responsibility as it has to strengthen, not weaken, the positive trends that shaped up in world politics at the end of 2013.”
In his opinion, as G8 president, Russia “can set the pace in strengthening these positive trends.”
“The world looks at our country differently than it did 2-3 years ago because 2013 was a very successful year for our country in terms of foreign policy,” he said. “We prevented an armed interference in Syria by proposing an initiative to destroy its chemical weapons; we played a major role in the diplomatic settlement of the Iranian issue; we achieved significant success in the post-Soviet region as evidenced, in particular, by Armenia’s accession to the Customs Union and by Ukraine’s decision not to sacrifice relations with Russia for the sake of European integration.”
Pushkov believes that these achievements “turned Russia into a world leader and its president into a politician who outran the president of the United States in 2013 in terms of influence on global affairs.”
The MP is convinced that Russia can effectively form a realistic agenda for the G8. “It is absolutely obvious that Russia not just deserves its place in the G8 but it has become one of its leaders. Russia is in an exceptionally good position to propose its agenda and implement the proposals that proved successful in 2013 and need to be buttressed and strengthened now,” he said.
Russia has taken over the presidency in the Group of Eight from January 1, 2014. The main event of its presidency - the G8 summit - will be held in Sochi on June 4-5.
Russia has also launched the official website of its presidency in the G8 at http://g8russia.ru.
At the G8 Summit in Sochi, Russia plans to present our partners with an ample agenda for frank and substantive discussion so as to - most importantly - arrive at concrete decisions, President Vladimir Putin said.
“We see that the world has not become safer in recent years, but it has undoubtedly become more complicated. Threats to sustainable development are increasingly diverse. Focal points of violence and civil strife are multiplying, and the system of international law is losing ground. The planet is also shaken by volatile economic conditions, natural and environmental disasters. Due to close interdependence, the problems of a single country or region invariably reach global proportions. However, crisis response tools are not always effective,” he said.
Putin believes that in such a situation, the G8 must focus on present-day and future challenges. It must share the responsibility for the future.
As the holder of the G8 Presidency, Russia suggests that the G8 members should develop comprehensive and cooperative mechanisms to control the most critical risks. It is important to cover the entire “chain” - from forecasting and preventing particular threats to overcoming their potential adverse effects, the president noted.
The Group of Eight (G8) is an unofficial forum of the world's major economies (Russia, the United States, Great Britain, France, Japan, Germany, Canada, and Italy, with the participation of the EU Leaders) designed to coordinate approaches to the most pressing issues of global affairs.
The G8 does not operate as an international organisation, not being based on an international treaty or having a charter or permanent secretariat. The decisions taken by the G8 are non-binding political commitments of the member states to follow the agreed logic of action in addressing specific issues.
The host country of the G8 annual summit is presiding over the forum throughout the year, coordinating the G8's operating activities. The rotation of the G8 Presidency starts with France (last presidency in 2011), followed by the U.S., the UK, Russia, Germany, Japan, Italy, and Canada. The EU does not host summits and cannot assume presidency.
Heads of states and governments meet behind closed doors in an informal and confidential atmosphere. A tradition has been established in recent years to invite representatives of non-G8 countries and heads of international organizations to the G8 summits and ministerial meetings.
Joint documents are approved by consensus and are usually released as the follow-up to summits and ministerial meetings. The G8 can also release statements without convening meetings to respond to urgent issues of global importance.
Preparations for the G8 summits are handled by Sherpas - personal representatives of heads of states and governments. Sherpas lead national teams of political directors (foreign policy issues within the scope of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), foreign affairs Sous-Sherpas (international issues, mostly social and economic and humanitarian, assisting Sherpas in outlining the presidency’s priorities and harmonising positions) and financial Sous-Sherpas (financial and economic track).
The G8 foreign ministers make an important contribution to the preparation of the summits by holding regular meetings on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Until 2009, specialised ministerial meetings on such issues as energy, environment, labour and social development, healthcare, education, domestic affairs and justice, science and technology, were a common practice. However, meetings in such format have become fewer as the process of rethinking the G8's role and a red tape reduction effort got underway in 2010.
Task forces have been established within the G8 to implement long-term initiatives endorsed by leaders and ministers. At this point, these task forces include the High Level Group on Non-proliferation, the Roma-Lyon Group (on terrorism and organised crime), task forces on global partnership, nuclear safety and security, accountability peacekeeping/peace building and food security.
Youth 8 summits (Y8), G8 Parliament Speakers’ meetings (Parliamentary 8), heads of academies of sciences, as well as representatives of the business community (Business 8) and civil society (Civil 8) are held within the G8 framework.
More than one hundred events will be held during Russia’s G8 Presidency in 2014.