world News : G7 leaders gather in calm and serene Bari - but they're battered by storms at home

world News : G7 leaders gather in calm and serene Bari - but they're battered by storms at home
world News : G7 leaders gather in calm and serene Bari - but they're battered by storms at home

Thursday 13 June 2024 10:46 PM

newsonline - As G7 leaders meet in the idyllic Italian city of Bari the view is stunning. The Adriatic backdrop calm and serene. Don't be fooled.

The outlook for the Western alliance is anything but. The allies meet battered and weakened by storms back home and a sense of impending doom hangs over them.

It says it all that the least dysfunctional of the G7 member states right now is Italy, a country more usually prone to political instability.

Going into this summit its host, Italy's leader, Georgia Meloni, boasted that hers is the strongest government in Europe, "going against the trend".

Who could argue with that?

Image: Rishi Sunak is welcomed by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. Pic: AP

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Not Emmanuel Macron, struggling to save France from the populist right after its election triumph a few days ago and the snap parliamentary vote he has called to follow.

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Not chancellor Olaf Scholz equally humbled by the same in Germany.

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And certainly not Rishi Sunak, limping from one excruciating ordeal to another on the election trail, in Britain.

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Outside of Europe, Ms Meloni's other guests arrive with similar domestic baggage.

Canada's Justin Trudeau faces rising disenchantment and Japan's Fumio Kishida approval ratings have never been worse.

Joe Biden. Pic: Reuters
Image: US President Joe Biden attending the G7 as he runs for a second term. Pic: Reuters

And Joe Biden is in his own world of pain, personal and political. Allies and voters back home increasingly wonder if he will last the course to the election let alone another four years in office.

As war rages in Europe and beyond, there could not be a worse time for such weakness and division.

This year's G7 venue, the walled city of Bari, has lessons for its guests from a long history of conflict, fought over by Byzantines, Saracens, Normans and Angevins.

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The leaders convene with their enemies at the gate.

Populist forces threaten to topple the citadels of liberal democracy across Europe. Russia is on the march in Ukraine, the conflict galvanising an alliance of autocracies to the East.

As host, Ms Meloni will try to orchestrate a united response. Italy has been at the forefront of efforts for instance to use Russia's confiscated billions to help finance the war in Ukraine.

But on the eve of this summit, the diplomacy seemed to be unravelling, Europe reportedly accusing America of not pulling its weight in the initiative.

The allies know too well the price of dither and delay. The failure to send tanks to Ukraine before Russia could prepare its defences has proven extraordinarily costly on the battlefield.

Expectations of diplomatic progress in Bari are being managed. Excuses made.

Democracy is messy. It's harder to marshal multiple democracies than it is for the enemy to run a totalitarian state.

But in truth there is no time for division.

This could be the West's last best chance.

In a year President Trump may be in place, a man viscerally opposed to all the G7 stands for.

He may be six months into dismantling NATO. France could be paralysed, its president a lame duck, Germany the same.

The enemies of freedom and democracy are doing what they can to hasten the West's demise.

In Moscow, Tehran and Beijing they are looking on with glee untroubled by this latest gathering. Unless the allies can prove them wrong.

Don't hold your breath.

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