Multilateral cooperation has a chance again after the gruesome Trump era. But there are also some deficits, says Bernd Riegert after the G20 summit.
Everyone was actually in favor of multinational cooperation, only one person talked about his own greatness all along. With this sentence, Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz naturally meant the US President, the egomaniac Donald Trump, who is leaving against his will. In the last four years it has made it difficult for the Group of 20 to stick together. But that will soon be over – thanks to the American voters. With the departure of the most self-loving president of all time, the G20, the representatives of two-thirds of humanity, can make a fresh start.
That was already noticeable this time under Saudi leadership of all places, even if Trump was still nominally at the table. Startled by the corona pandemic, which shows the world how dependent one is on one another, the leaders of states are ready to adopt a common vaccination strategy, a strengthening of the World Health Organization, a revitalization of world trade, stronger climate protection, better protection of biodiversity, a digital economy and much more to talk about. The G20 can achieve significantly more with the next President, Joe Biden, than with the “me first – President” Donald Trump.
It will be easier without Trump
In the pandemic, it is sorely needed that the global leadership elite unite if the vaccine is to be distributed fairly. A start has been made, but much more financial commitments are needed to organize two billion vaccine doses for the poorer part of the world’s population. The United States should join the Covax international vaccination association as soon as Donald Trump has left the White House.
As usual, the texts of the G20 declarations are full of melodious political prose. It takes a long time to look for specific announcements. One tangible result is that 46 and soon 77 poorer countries will defer interest payments on public loans so that these funds can flow into the fight against the pandemic. That sounds good. With a total volume of five to six billion dollars a year, however, it is only a drop in the ocean compared to the eleven trillion (11,000 billion) that the G20 has mobilized for their own economies. A real haircut would probably be necessary to shorten the recession, especially in African countries.
But nobody in the G20 is really ready for that, at most they want to talk about it. This is not too surprising, because the whole world, including the relatively rich countries, is stuck in an unprecedented economic crisis and is currently rapidly falling into debt. At this G20 summit, Federal Finance Minister Scholz is still talking about the chance to quickly work your way out of the economic crisis, but Chancellor Angela Merkel said weeks ago on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels that Germany’s resources are also limited are. The corona debts that are now being piled up are everywhere at the expense of the next generation.
Human rights and realpolitik
International cooperation is more necessary than ever in the pandemic. Unfortunately, this also applies to the countries in the G20, which have nothing to do with our Western understanding of democracy and human rights. The G20 Council President, Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy that tramples on human rights, is needed, as is the Chinese dictatorship or the Russian and Turkish autocracy. In order to get the global economy going, you have to deal with all these states, even if it is sometimes difficult. The fact that the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia, China or Russia was not even mentioned goes against the grain.
A little courage on the part of the Merkels, Macrons and von der Leyens would be better. Because the dictators and potentates in the G20 also need democratically legitimized states. Saudi Arabia, for example, is not only good friends with Russia, but also needs the democratic USA as an ally in the competition with Iran, as an arms supplier in the proxy war in Yemen, as an investor in the Saudi technology park NEOM. That is why one should not let the lithe Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salam get away with everything: murder of an unwelcome journalist, imprisonment of women’s rights activists, for example. After the pandemic, human rights and governance should also be on the G20 agenda.
Author: Bernd Riegert