ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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G-8 Summit: Glass Ceiling of Separation

G-8 Summit: Glass Ceiling of Separation

With the G-8 countries producing two-thirds of the world’s gross domestic product and accounting for an even higher proportion of the world’s military expenditure, the annual mid-year summit meeting of their leaders invariably attracts a lot of the world’s attention. Little wonders that this gathering of the leaders of the world’s most powerful nations also attracts public protests and activism. In recent years, the authorities have imposed paranoid restrictions on activists demonstrating in the vicinity of the venue of G-8 summits. Less commented about, but equally indicative of the “democratic deficit” in the “new world order” is the separation, and hence restrictions at the high table of the summit itself.

Following the militant anti-globalisation demos in Genoa at the G-8 summit there in 2001, G-8 summits are now hosted outside of the major cities. So it was this year at Heiligendamm, the German seaside resort on the Baltic coast. Demonstrations were prohibited not only within a broad perimeter of the site of the summit, restrictions were also placed on gatherings of activists at the airport or on the highways, indeed, even in the neighbouring city of Rostock. The security restrictions for miles around, a violation of the democratic rights of citizens to freely protest, should have been an embarrassment of a kind for the US president, George Bush, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and other G-8 leaders of the “free world”. But this did not seem so, even as the latter are accustomed to give a lesson or two to Russian president, Vladimir Putin on the merits of democratic functioning. Russia formally joined the group in 1997; frankly, this was in appreciation of the then Russian president Boris Yeltsin’s dogged persistence of shock therapy in the transition back to capitalism in his country and his insistence on remaining “neutral” to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s eastward expansion. But, in the run-up to the present summit, Putin’s sharp remarks in reference to US plans to construct a missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic raised eyebrows all around. The summit proper, however, did not witness any fireworks on this count; quite the opposite, there was an explicit attempt to finesse and blur the differences between Moscow and Washington. Putin even went to the extent of suggesting that the radar installations for the proposed missile defence system be placed in Azerbaijan.

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