Alan Friedman :
© International Herald Tribune, July 23, 2001
G-8 Vows to Attack Poverty
( Battle-Scarred Genoa Talks End With Hope for Africa)
GENOA. Ending a three-day summit meeting that was marred by
unprecedented violence and the death of one demonstrator,
leaders of the Group of Eight nations promised Sunday to work
together toward alleviating world poverty, especially in Africa.
The G-8, which met for the first time with African leaders over the
weekend, said it was setting in motion what Prime Minister Tony
Blair of Britain called "a very big and ambitious thing, a kind of
Marshall Plan for Africa."
The plan lacks substantial details for the time being, apart from
ongoing debt reduction measures and a $1.2 billion fund to battle
AIDS and other diseases, but Canada, host of next year's summit
meeting, is supposed to coordinate the initiative for the G-8.
Meanwhile, the leaders of Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy,
Canada and Russia failed to persuade President George W. Bush
to change his mind over Washington's controversial rejection of
the Kyoto treaty on global warming, and, unusually, the G-8 final
statement spoke openly of "disagreement" on the issue. Mr. Bush
said Sunday that the United States was "in the process of
developing a strategy" of its own, which it would share with its
allies when ready.
The leaders tried to put a brave face on their work here, but
officials admitted the meeting was completely overshadowed by
the sight of more than 100,000 protesters in the streets of Genoa
on Friday and Saturday. As a result, the G-8's efforts to portray
Genoa as an anti-poverty summit, along with their attempt to talk
up the troubled world economy, were also eclipsed.
Most of the protesters were peaceful, but a few hundred
anarchists, mainly from Germany and Britain and known as the
"Black Block," hurled firebombs, set cars, stores and banks on
fire, and managed to wreak havoc and cause an estimated $25
million worth of destruction in the city of Genoa.
Italy remained in shock Sunday after one demonstrator, Carlo
Giuliani, 23, was shot in the head by a policeman who was
trapped in a jeep by the Italian youth and others. Mr. Giuliani was
photographed lunging at the officer who shot him, and appeared to
be preparing to throw a fire extinguisher at the frightened
In the early morning hours of Sunday, Italian police raided the
headquarters of an anti-globalization movement, arresting 92
protesters after clashes that left both police officers and protesters
wounded. The police charged the activists with criminal conspiracy
and possession of gasoline bombs, and displayed knives, pickaxes
and other confiscated weapons.
"It was a G-8 summit that was certainly overshadowed by the
images of violence outside the meetings, and the message that was
transmitted to global public opinion was of protest, disorder and
violence, which is a shame because this G-8 did serious work,"
said Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, who hosted the
Mr. Berlusconi, who visited wounded police officers in the hospital
after the summit meeting ended Sunday, said that if he could
remake the meeting "we probably would not have chosen a large
urban center." But that choice, he said, was made by the
government that preceded his election in May.
Prime Minister Jean Chretien of Canada, host of next year's
summit meeting, said it would be held in the tiny and remote resort
town of Kananaskis in the province of Alberta. Other G-8 leaders
embraced the idea of a remote destination, difficult for protesters
to get to. They also endorsed the idea of a more-focused, scaled
down summit meeting with less of a laundry list of world issues.
The G-8 process "is getting out of control," Mr. Chretien said,
warning that next year no more than 35 delegates per country
would be allowed to attend. At Genoa, the U.S. delegation alone
was estimated at more than 600 people.
"The decision to reduce the size of the G-8 was taken even before
Genoa," Mr. Berlusconi said at a news conference. "But the events
in Genoa probably made other G-8 leaders even more willing to
accept the Canadian proposal," he said.
Asked about the leaders' discussion of the global economic
slowdown, Mr. Berlusconi said that "no one can negate the
concerns we have about Argentina or Turkey, or about the U.S.
slowdown, the not very exciting European growth prospects or the
need for structural reforms in Japan." But he stressed that "there is
no objective reason to be really pessimistic."
The G-8's final statement did not address the issue of the strong
dollar, but on Sunday, Mr. Bush reiterated his view that the
dollar's value was a matter for markets, rather than governments,
"The dollar needs to float in the marketplace," he said. "If the
market is allowed to function, the dollar will be at an appropriate
On the divisive issue of climate change, the leaders tried to paper
over the cracks by noting that everyone agreed on the need to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions and by accepting a Russian
invitation to hold a global conference on climate change in 2003.
But in a sign of how isolated the Bush administration's position
remained, the G-8 leaders published a highly unusual statement in
their final communiqué.
"While there is currently disagreement on the Kyoto Protocol," the
statement read, "we are committed to working intensively together
to meet our common objective." While White House aides sought
to gloss over Mr. Bush's differences with Europe, Japan, and
Canada, President Jacques Chirac of France revealed at a news
conference Sunday that he had personally insisted on underlining
the disagreement by writing it into the G-8 statement.
Mr. Chretien, meanwhile, warned Sunday that separate climate
talks under way in Bonn were unlikely to produce an agreement.
"Bonn is a step; Bonn is not final," he said. "Bonn will not probably
have an agreement."
Mr. Bush said he shared concerns about global warming, but he
was blunt about his views. "I made clear to our friends and allies
that the methodology of the current Kyoto Protocol is one that if
implemented would severely affect economic growth in America,"
he said Sunday. "There should be no doubt in your mind about our
position," he added. "We share the goal but we strongly believe
that we should find a method of achieving the goal that won't
wreck the American economy."
The G-8's Africa initiative was discussed during a meeting in Bonn
with several leaders including President Thabo Mbeki of South
Africa and President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal. The G-8 said it
would name a special envoy to talk with African leaders in
preparing a detailed plan by next year's meeting in Alberta.
The Africa plan, beyond debt relief, would focus on "democracy,
transparency, good governance, rule of law and human rights."