The Reluctant Seven

There are four themes shaping tomorrow’s G-7 meeting in Bavaria. The first has to do with Russia and Ukraine, after Putin sanctioned 89 politicians and European militaries and Porochenko raised the anti-separatist alert in his last visit to parliament, using the word “invasion” to describe Russia’s next steps. With Donbass’ conflicts having become worse during the past week, any sort of relief of the sanctions on Moscow during this G-7 meeting is rendered impossible.

The second theme comes from the atmosphere of distrust between the U.S. and Germany following Edward Snowden’s statements. Much has been attempted over the past two years to recover the bilateral dynamic that made Merkel Obama’s great ally in Europe. Berlin has never forgiven the National Security Agency’s spy methods, and the fact that Obama has signed legislation that removes power from the main American security agency the day before travelling to the G-7 is not innocent. This administration needs Germany by its side in order to deal with Russia, stabilize Ukraine, convince London to remain in the EU, finance stability in the Balkans and support the Kurdish militia in Syria and Iraq against Islamic State. The third point is right here: Obama will meet Iraq’s prime minister and persuade him to compromise his troops in land combat. Things are not going well.

The fourth theme results from the impasse between Athens and Troika. Washington wants Berlin to make its position more flexible, and do something more to lead a “dossier” that has brought Greece closer to leaving the euro zone. There are signs of some dissonance between Merkel and Schäuble, and today in the euro zone there are tougher positions than Germany’s, such as those of Spain, Slovakia, Estonia, Holland or Finland.

There won’t be miracles coming from the G-7, but sighs for leadership. The question is whether there are only sitting politicians who are reluctant to assume it today.

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