TAORMINA, Italy, May 26 – It’s touted as the most challenging G7 Summit yet, but comments by top European Union chiefs as the meeting got underway in the Italian resort of Taormina, gave hope of determination.
In comments moments before G7 leaders sat down for talks at the San Domenico Palace Hotel in Taormina, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said globalisation must be viewed as an opportunity, and not a threat.
He said it was time the world embraced open societies and sought multilateral solutions.
“We do believe as Europeans in open societies and are always seeking multilateral solutions. We want to build bridges and not walls,” he told journalists at a news conference at the Hilton Giardini Naxos.
Juncker said global issues such as trade must be dealt with fairly.
“Around a third of our national income comes from trade with the rest of the world. It supports one in seven jobs in the European Union and for every one billion we get in exports, we create 14 extra jobs,” Juncker explained.
He was speaking in the company of EU Council President Donald Tusk who told of the challenges that exist for the summit.
“It is no secret that leaders who are meeting today have different opinions in topics such as climate change and trade,” Tusk said.
He spoke of the European Union’s duty to do everything in its power to maintain the unity of the G7 on all fronts.
“Most importantly, unity needs to be maintained when it comes to defending the international order. Each day we are confronted with strategic global problems that pose a threat to peace and security.”
The challenges Tusk was making reference to include divisions on trade and climate change.
At the backdrop of this is the unending threat of terrorism, with the latest being the suicide attack in the English city of Manchester that left 22 people among them, children, dead.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta appeared in step with sentiments made by the EU leaders, when he wrote in a piece ahead of his arrival in Italy that this is not the time to be protectionist.
“My vision for the nation’s enhanced role in the world will ensure the economy is grown through crucial foreign investment.”
He said Africa needs foreign powers to invest directly into its economies.
“It is essential that rather than be dictated terms that are deleterious to our own development, we fight to deliberate as equal partners in any negotiations. Only mutual respect and cooperation will secure Africa takes it rightful place in international trade, thereby ensuring decent living standards and a foundation on which to build the dreams of a continent.”
He said as US President Donald Trump had repeatedly stated about his role as President of America, “as President of a leading country in Africa, it is my duty to put Kenya first, Africa second but also embrace the world. Modernity has taught us to recognise the interdependence of the three.”
He explained that adding Kenya’s voice to the rich tapestry of global cooperation “gives hope that we can not only elevate our own country but also show countries around the world the great gains that can be harvested through a spirit of partnership.”