A.The threats from authoritarian states are on the agenda, but the immediate challenges for the G7 foreign ministers on Tuesday were of a different nature. The successes of fighting the pandemic allowed the first physical meeting of the chief diplomats in more than two years, but the precautions in London’s Lancaster House were strict: masks, distance requirements and Plexiglas panes. The unpredictable storm over London brought further trouble. The red carpet in front of the entrance was partly self-sufficient and had to be glued on at great expense.
Dominic Raab, the British Foreign Minister and host, initially had the situation in Myanmar discussed. As a basis, he showed a video of the government in exile. Raab, it was said in the British Foreign Office, wanted to press the G-7 nations “to tougher measures against the junta”.
This includes the government in London further sanctions against persons and organizations connected with the coup government, the support of arms embargoes and more humanitarian aid for the population. The situation in Libya, Syria, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sahel and the Western Balkans were also on the agenda, as was Iran and Afghanistan, where the announced withdrawal of troops is currently spurring the Taliban. Most of the talks, which will last until Wednesday, are supposed to deal with the “systemic” challenges posed by great powers, especially Russia and China.
“Form partnerships with like-minded countries”
The unifying topic of the meeting had been introduced by Raab the evening before at a press conference with English understatement: “You can probably say that the world has changed a bit in the past two years.” Raab continued: “We are reacting to a situation in which our values are challenged and the international architecture is weakened at least in certain areas. ”In this context, it is important to“ form dynamic and flexible new partnerships with like-minded countries that share our values ”.
The German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also commented on the new course of the front: “This is where liberal democracies meet, who want to stand together against authoritarian regimes in the world.” Freedom and human rights, and we want to finally represent these again all over the world. ”He spoke in particular of the goal of a“ common China strategy ”.
The foreign ministers had agreed to “coordinate very closely at the G-7 level in the future, also on individual issues”. In addition to the G-7 countries (America, Canada, Japan, Great Britain, France, Italy and Germany), South Africa, India, South Korea, Australia and, for the Southeast Asian confederation Asean, Brunei will also be represented by their foreign ministers this Wednesday.
The British government wants to link the democracies in Asia more closely with the G7 and is currently also trying to expand bilateral relations in the Indo-Pacific region. At the same time as the conference, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Tuesday that the kingdom had signed a trade agreement with India. The meeting of foreign ministers serves to prepare for the G-7 summit in June, to which Johnson has also invited heads of state and government from the Indo-Pacific.
After a conversation with the American Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Raab assured him that he was standing “shoulder to shoulder” with the United States on foreign policy. With regard to China, they “fully agree that it is necessary to stand up for our values”. Maas also gave this impression when he answered in the negative as to whether the Europeans had felt American pressure to take a tougher pace with Beijing. There is “consensus” on the matter, he assured. However, this is still missing in the conflict over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. In a conversation with Blinken, “only the positions we already knew were exchanged,” said Maas.
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