Russia to call G8 attention to long-term problems: Professor Kirton
July 1 - Russian G8 Presidency priorities show Russia's desire to focus the summit's attention on long-term problems, says Dr. John J. Kirton, director of the University of Toronto G8 Research Group, Canada.
He highlights an extraordinary amount of foresight in determining priorities. Russia looks several years ahead in energy security as it ventures to forecast global future and calls G8 attention to the issue, he says.
A number of developed countries-in particular, the U.S., Japan and Germany-are even now short of energy, to an extent. Russia's choice of energy security as one of its G8 Presidency priorities can promote settling the problem, the expert said.
The upcoming St. Petersburg summit has a chance to achieve energy demand security. Professor Kirton also does not rule out major energy transactions to be made during the summit.
As for efforts against infectious diseases, another of the Russian G8 Presidency priorities, he pointed out that such issues as, for example, avian flu had never appeared on the agenda a year ago. Today, however, the developments urgently demand effective measures to tackle the challenge.
The upcoming G8 summit in St. Petersburg will come as an essential stage of guaranteeing universal access to education. As the expert sees it, the world must never forget that natural resources are being depleted-a problem that demands intellectual resources. What the world needs is a global impetus to provide universal access to education, which is one of the millennium's challenges.
As Russian G8 Presidency priorities were established, President Vladimir Putin demonstrated vision as he focused not only on current problems, such as energy and natural resources, but also to the economy of knowledge, Professor Kirton said.
He urged all G8 countries to convince the world of the necessity to use intellectual resources because contemporary developments have made the knowledge economy key to every man and woman's prosperity.
Apart from the issues on the agenda, certain G8 leaders can raise other questions, for instance, conflict settlement prospects in Moldova and Georgia.
Global promotion of the values of open democracy, personal freedom and social progress is the principal G8 goal. Progress in achieving it will come as a yardstick to evaluate the success of Russian G8 Presidency and St. Petersburg summit, Professor Kirton said.
He discerns fine prospects for many related fields. In particular, where the energy sphere is concerned, the expert sees a joint statement on the necessity to enhance its transparency as a basic principle and part of G8 action because transparency is one of the pivotal principles of open democracy.
As he turned to appeals by certain U.S. political activists to ignore the St. Petersburg summit, the Canadian researcher said they might be largely linked to current developments not only in Russia but also in the United States. As the next U.S. presidential election is approaching, some politicians are out to divert voters' attention from domestic problems. Russia is a young democracy, and so is facing much more formidable challenges than the other G8 countries in promoting democratic freedoms. Russians are well aware of that point, the expert emphasized.