Opinion: Leaders grasp problems, lack answers | World| Breakings news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 20.05.2012
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Opinion: Leaders grasp problems, lack answers

The leaders of the G8 group of the world's most powerful countries did not show any new political paths at Camp David. They described problems well enough, but did not solve any, says DW's Bernd Riegert.

The big question after the two-day G8 summit at Camp David was, of course: did it bring any results? Did the eight government leaders, as well as their African guests, change the world - in any way at all? Well, no, they didn't, is the answer.

Well-known points-of-view were exchanged, both on the debt crisis in Europe and on the various flash points around the world. The initiative to strengthen Africa, which was brought to life three years ago, was once again emphasized over lunch with the African leaders. And that was pretty much it.

Vexed situation in Europe

I hope that this meager result was only the official part of the meeting. When these gentlemen and one lady get together for an informal meeting behind closed doors, I expect them to candidly express their views without coating them in the careful language of diplomacy. There is certainly enough for them to discuss. The situation in Europe is getting trickier and trickier and turning German Chancellor Angela Merkel into the culprit for the crisis because she insists on budgetary consolidation. It borders on the absurd.

Without painful reforms of state finances, which still loom for many countries, including that of the G8 host and its president, Barack Obama, there will not be a lasting exit from the debt crisis. While new French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti cozy up on the common ground they share with Obama, who is in the midst of an electoral campaign, it's the facts that will count most at the end of the day. It's a fact that financing stimulus programs with new debt would be a mistake. The chancellor is right - even if she is isolated in the exclusive club of eight leaders.

Next stop Brussels

Still, she was able to ensure that the final communiqué from the G8 summit leaves plenty of room for interpretation. Leaders can read from it whatever they need to make a case to their domestic audiences. Debt reduction and growth need to go hand-in-hand. Good point! But I don't see any new ways or ideas of how that might work.

Instead, the problem is pushed down the road to the next summit - this time it will be the Europeans meeting by themselves. Hollande will make his first big appearance in Brussels on Wednesday. The socialist's ideas sound trite, but when it comes to creating eurobonds, which would share debt across the EU, he will hopefully run up against Merkel's brick wall. The risk is simply too great for the few solvent states left in Europe.

Greece concerns everyone

There was at least one good thing to come from the summit: the commitment that Greece belongs in the eurozone. The country cannot and must not be left to its own devices. The offer being made to the Greeks is clear. Aid comes with strings attached. Now the Greeks will have the final say.

The election in June will even be interesting for Barack Obama. If the attempt to keep Greece in the eurozone fails, the ensuing recession in Europe could pull down the world economy - and with it the United States. That is the last thing Obama needs right before American voters go to the polls in November. In a globalized world we are all Greeks, Europeans and Americans because we all depend on each other.

Author: Bernd Riegert / sms
Editor: Gregg Benzow

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