The Spirit of Evian

Greetings from Wroclaw! Which immediately gives rise to the question, in our EuroSavant context, of “What’s going on in the Polish press?” Which immediately gives rise to my answer of . . .

Hold it, hold it! Are we starting to sound like a broken record here? This is precisely how I started out a weblog entry of a few weeks ago, when I was visiting Budapest. (If you’re interested, it’s here.) My point there was that the country that I treat for a particular day’s weblog need not have any direct relation to the country I was physically present in at the time. After all, I live in Amsterdam – and how many times have I treated the Dutch press? There was a run a little while ago when I was treating it rather more often than I would have liked – e.g. when I discussed the light prison sentence given to Pim Fortuyn’s murderer, and suchlike, here – but lately I’ve been behaving much better in that regard.

Of course, Poland’s EU referendum is coming up this weekend, so I’ll definitely be talking about that, both from the viewpoint of the Polish press and from the personnel viewpoint I now have on things from being present in Poland. But just give me a little more time to talk with some folks around here about their feelings toward the EU and the referendum and what’s going on in general. In the meantime: that G8 summit in Evian, just what was it that it accomplished again? . . .

Michael Mönninger, writing in Die Zeit, says that Jacque Chirac’s G8 summit at Evian could turn out to be a milestone in world politics, and he seems to mean this seriously. Yes, the summit’s closing statement cited the threat of international terrorism, and called upon North Korea and Iran to shut down their nuclear weapons development programs, and one practical result is supposed to be greater cooperation between the Geheimdienste of the member countries to counteract terrorism. (Geheimedienste is actually German for “secret services”; I think that what was rather meant here were the corresponding intelligence/policing agencies in these countries, like the FBI and CIA in the US, which fight terrorism.)

But Mönninger finds more significance in the efforts at the summit to address the problems of the developing world, a focus represented physically by the presence of the national leaders from Third World nations that Chirac also invited to attend the summit. In so doing, Chirac announced, he hoped to help such G8 summits gain their “legitimacy,” i.e. as being fora where problems afflicting most of the people of the world are addressed, and not just those of its more wealthy inhabitants. And he also devoted attention to the concerns of those who were otherwise confined on the other side of the barricades protecting the summit participants, i.e. of the anti-globalization protesters. He did this through his meetings with representatives of these groups at his Elysée Palace, back on 30 April.

As the summit ended (with President Bush having already left town, on his way to summitry in the Middle East), those left behind were speaking of a new “spirit of Evian” in terms of making future G8 summits similarly respect Third World concerns – even in the US, where next year’s summit is scheduled to be held.

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