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Western Press Review: G7 Summit -- Russia Is In, Creating 'Summit of Eight'

  • Don Hill

Prague, 23 June 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Western commentary on the meeting in Denver over the weekend of leading industrialized nations, now called the Summit of Eight, centers on the admission of Russia. Commentators examine also the economic models of American free marketism, European democratic socialism, and what some were calling the "third way" of Dutch limited economic intervention.

WASHINGTON POST: The summit's hallmark was Russia's attendance

Writing today, Peter Baker and Paul Blustein say that the summit's final communique failed to reflect serious policy differences between the United States and other nations. But the key point, they say in a news analysis, was Russia's participation.

The Post writers say: "President Clinton and the leaders of the world's other major industrial powers wrapped up their annual economic summit (yesterday) with the traditional public show of unity that did little to mask a sharp private dispute over how to clean up air pollution across international lines.

While Clinton exulted in hosting the so-called Summit of the Eight, which for the first time included Russia, his counterparts from Europe left town irritated by his resistance to their plan to cut back on dangerous greenhouse gas emissions by 2010. The Europeans also split with Clinton on the best way to preserve peace in Bosnia and how many new members should be admitted into NATO. The schisms were largely papered over in the summit's final communique."

They write: "The hallmark of the summit, though, had little to do with the words and more to do with the presence of Russian President Boris Yeltsin as a nearly full member of what has been known as the Group of Seven."

WASHINGTON POST: Americans pay a price for their economy -- inequality, insecurity and a growing underclass

In an editorial yesterday warned that the United States should limit gloating over its current economic strength. The newspaper said: "President Clinton is feeling pretty good about things this weekend as he hosts his fellow. leaders from the industrialized world in Denver for their annual get-together. The U.S. economy just keeps on ticking, while Japan and Europe seem mired in problems."

The editorial concluded: "But Americans pay a price -- in inequality, insecurity and a growing underclass -- for their freewheeling system. In fact, none of the leaders in Denver can claim to have all or even most of the answers for this new era of globalization." It says: "Accommodation will have to come through a combination of new forms of international cooperation and locally suitable national adaptations. Everyone involved still has much to learn."

SUDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG: Advocates of market economics uber alles feel they have prevailed

On Friday, Kurt Kister commented similarly. He wrote: "At the G7 industrial nations' summit in Denver the pauper has been elevated to the status of a prince. In return for Boris Yeltsin's reluctantly accepting the enlargement of NATO, Russia now is joining the G7 club, making it the G8."

Kister wrote: "Many commentators are fond of dismissing the G7 summits as mere global talking shops. Even though the communiques may sound bland and non-committal that is not true. More will have happened in Denver than the symbolically significant admission of Russia to full membership. There will also be a debate on whether and to what extent the U.S. economic boom can serve as a model for the ailing economies of Europe and Japan."

He concluded: "The advocates of market economics uber alles now feel they have shown themselves to have prevailed over the representatives of government job creation programs."

NEW YORK TIMES: The Japanese are angry with Russia's prominent role

The paper carried a news analysis by Steven Erlanger examining the relationship between Yeltsin and Clinton and concluding that the Clinton policy of stubborn support for Yeltsin has been vindicated. Erlanger wrote: "In 1991 in London, Mikhail Gorbachev was invited to join the leaders of the Group of Seven only for lunch, after their working sessions. In 1992, Boris Yeltsin came to the meeting in Munich, Germany, as a penitent, getting some aid and two meals, though by most accounts he crashed dinner."

Erlanger wrote: "In Denver, with the strong support of 'my friend Bill,' as Yeltsin calls President Clinton, Russia is being treated as a full-fledged member of what is now being called the Summit of the Eight." He said: "Clinton's foreign policy has been marked by uncompromising support for Yeltsin throughout his wild and eventful stewardship of a new Russia - through all the difficulties of coup attempts, erratic behavior and brutal wars against secessionists in Chechnya and part of Georgia."

But, Erlanger noted, not everyone agreed with Russia's new prominence. He said: "The Japanese in particular are angry with Clinton's decision to give the Russians such a prominent role here, and are asking why China is not invited, if Russia is. The American answer is, with a shrug, that Russia is a democracy and China is not, as if NATO expansion and the success of Russian reform were afterthoughts."

LONDON DAILY TELEGRAPH: The U.S. lifestyle did not appeal to Tony Blair

The paper editorializes today that British Prime Minister Tony Blair is one of those who will not accept the United States uncritically as an economic model. The newspaper says: "Blair has left the cavalier court in Denver unconvinced. The lifestyle he saw there, and the message his American hosts tried to spread -- that the other industrialized countries could enjoy similar economic growth if they ran their economies freely and flexibly -- did not appeal to him."

The editorial warns that Blair would face voters' retribution if he attempted a U.S-style approach. It says: "He might risk a few tax increases here and there to help make the market more efficient. (However) if he ever begins to echo the green mantra that standards of living should fall, then let him engineer a recession and take the electoral consequences."

WASHINGTON POST: The economic 'third way' is in the Netherlands

Steven Pearlstein and Paul Blustein comment today that European leaders are seeking a third way. They say: "To hear it from President Clinton at this weekend's economic summit, America's entrepreneurial capitalism has proven itself as the model for how an economy should be organized. But European leaders seemed as uncomfortable with Clinton's cowboy capitalism as they were with the cowboy boots he had presented them. And they made it clear that they thought the American model, with its heavy dose of economic insecurity and inequality, had plenty problems of its own."

They write: "The search for a 'third way,' as the alternative is called, even got a boost here (yesterday) when Gordon Brown, Britain's new chancellor of the exchequer, said it would be the central topic of next year's economic summit in Birmingham, England."

They conclude: "If there is a model for this 'third way,' it can be found in the Netherlands, where unemployment is about 6 percent -- half of the jobless rate in neighboring France - while inflation is tame and incomes are growing about 2 percent a year. (And), as the summit drew to a close and final statements were issued, the American delegation took pains to play down its tub-thumping and reiterate its interest in improving on the American model. 'The Europeans have things to learn from us and we have things to learn from them,' Deputy Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said. 'This U.S. triumphalism can be overdone.'"