D.he heads of state and government were already in their seats for the family photo at the start of the summit. Emmanuel Macron had buttoned his jacket, Ursula von der Leyen had taken off the FFP2 mask. But then it got restless again, “Justin”, came the sound of the crowd. “Boris”, Mario Draghi shouted and clapped his hands, “Boooris!” Laughing, the Canadian and British Prime Ministers hurried up from the side and took their places with jokes and pats on the back. And so, just a few minutes after the start of the G-20 summit in Rome on Saturday, it became clear what would be the most unclouded success of the meeting: the analogous reunion in such a large group.
The next moment showed how little this can be taken for granted after a global pandemic. Because after the first round of photos, Italian doctors, nurses and paramedics in white coats and neon-colored uniforms came to the podium, invited by the Italian Prime Minister Draghi. A particularly moving moment, as Chancellor Angela Merkel said on the evening of the first day of the summit. “That also reminded us that although we can meet again, the pandemic is not over.”
“We have to do everything we can to resolve our differences”
The first of three working sessions of the weekend was therefore also about a fair vaccine distribution. The goal shared by the twenty most important industrialized and emerging countries is to massively increase the vaccination rate. Forty percent of the world’s population should be vaccinated by the end of this year and then seventy percent by the middle of next year. The health and finance ministers of the G-20 countries agreed on this in Rome on Friday. Germany, said Merkel, supports the international vaccine initiative COVAX in addition to the one hundred million vaccine doses already promised for this year with 75 million vaccine doses in 2022.
Draghi pleaded solidarity at the first face-to-face meeting of G-20 leaders since the pandemic began. It is “morally unacceptable” that just three percent of people in the poorest countries are vaccinated against the coronavirus. In the past few years, “protectionism, unilateralism and nationalism” had a negative impact on cooperation. Now it is time to return to multilateralism, going it alone is not an option. “We have to do everything we can to resolve our differences,” Draghi urged the heads of state and government. The international community must rekindle the spirit that led to the founding of the G20.
Italy, which currently holds the G-20 presidency, is one of the reasons why many had looked at the summit with optimism, along with the new American President Joe Biden: Draghi has been able to push back right-wing populists in Italy since February and reforms are on the way bring to. The former head of the European Central Bank also enjoys a great reputation internationally. Again and again at the summit it is relieved to hear that the difficult times with Donald Trump in the United States and other populists in the EU have been overcome. Merkel made this echo at the end of her last summit. When asked at the final press conference on what the difference to the G20 summit in Hamburg in 2017 was, she said: Everyone had understood that one lived on a planet, the atmosphere was not so controversial. “Perhaps that has to do with the greater unity of the world community.”
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