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The three main issues identified as Italy's pre-Summit objectives included the broad areas of security, sustainable development and poverty reduction, and conflict prevention. Of all the important decisions reached at Kananaskis, Mr Berlusconi pointed to the G8 Africa Action Plan, the G8 Global Partnership, and the Italian project for E-Government as the best examples of success of the Italian initiatives and commitments. The general terms of the remainder of the Kananaskis documents confirm Italy's position; it is the details, however, that justify a grade of A- instead of an A+ that a more superficial review might suggest.
Objective 1: Security
Italy's performance in the Summit negotiations relating to both regional and global security was commendable. The extension of the full G8 status to Russia has been hailed by Mr Berlusconi as another step in the normalization of relations and rapprochement between Russia and the West. Although there was no indication preceding the Summit that Italy would have sought this particular action, it is beyond any doubt that it contributed to it in a constructive manner in Kananaskis. Having secured Russia's admission to North Atlantic Council in April 2002 and having long argued for Russia's participation in the EU and other institutions of global governance (such as the WTO), Mr Berlusconi is certain to see this as solid evidence of the right direction of Italy's diplomatic endeavours. In fact, in a bilateral meeting, Mr Putin thanked Mr Berlusconi for everything that Italy had done for Russia-"from the admission to the G8 to that to the [NATO] Council of 20, all the way to the push that brought about the accord 'ten plus ten over ten.'"
While the agreed G8 action plan to combat terrorism on all levels-from Afghanistan and Swiss bank accounts to Russian arms arsenals-corresponds to Italy's envisaged model, it is only the latter that represents a truly original Italian proposal and earns it special credit. The leaders agreed to launch a new G8 Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction to support specific cooperation projects to address non-proliferation, disarmament, counter-terrorism and nuclear safety issues, starting with Russia. Although deemed to be an American initiative, the "10+10X10" plan of action really coincides with the Italian proposal of 17 May 2002 to dismantle Russia's arsenal of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, for which it sought the G8's financial support. The adjoining G8 Global Partnership: Guidelines for New or Expanded Cooperation Projects also reflects Italy's urging to expand intelligence cooperation and forge an international network designed to fight terrorism.
Objective 2: Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction
Italy's sub-objectives in this area were far-reaching and spanned across the Africa Plan, the HIPC Initiative and debt reduction/cancellation, trade, investment, market access, technological ('digital') divide and direct assistance, and health and education. In addition to these foundations of a model for sustainable development, Italy also identified the Doha Development Agenda, the Monterrey Consensus, and ... in particular the upcoming Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development as areas meriting particular attention.
The G8 Africa Action Plan addressed and confirmed commitments in the following issues: 1) Peace and Security; 2) Political and Economic Governance; 3) Trade, Investment, Economic Growth and Sustainable Development; 4) Debt Relief; 5) Education and Information and Communications Technology (ICT); 6) Health and HIV/AIDS; 7) Agricultural Productivity; and 8) Water Resource Management. The proximity with Italy's own pre-Summit activities is striking.
For instance, the Plan commits the G8 to "ensure the successful conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda by January 1, 2005," as well as work toward implementing "the Doha Agenda and the Monterrey Consensus and the upcoming Johannesburg Summit to produce meaningful partnerships for sustainable development and measurable results." In addition, the leaders indicated to "support the objectives of the NEPAD;" Italy affirmed its commitment to NEPAD preceding the Summit and was seen as "a leading force" in consolidating it. Furthermore, regional initiatives, implementing debt relief and increasing market access, identifying WTO-related technical assistance needs, and "Improving and Promoting Education and Expanding Digital Opportunities" are just some of the examples of the Plan's action points that fall in line with Italy's own position.
Likewise, Italy deemed the E-Government Model to have been a great success of its diplomacy. The G8 Leaders "reviewed implementation of the DOT Force's Genoa Plan of Action and welcomed its initiatives to strengthen developing countries' readiness for e-development, such as the e-model to improve the efficiency of public administrations and to enhance the transparency of national budgeting." Italy, as the most vocal advocate of the DOT Force, welcomed the series of reviews of the Genoa Action Plan; however, it placed the issue on high priority on its Summit agenda, which the other G8 member states did not reciprocate.
The action on debt cancellation is seen as a particular Italian achievement. The G8 leaders agreed Wednesday to reduce the debt of poor states by another billion dollars within the 1999 Cologne Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative: "We will fund our share of the shortfall in the enhanced HIPC initiative, recognizing that this shortfall will be up to US$1-billion." Mr Chrétien promised Mr Berlusconi that Italy would be cited in the final Statement for its exemplary behaviour in the area of poverty reduction. Italy is the second largest contributor to the Global Aids Fund with $200-million in the record time of two years. Mr Berlusconi also pointed out that his country provides a shining example to others by cancelling $4-billion worth of debt and commercial loans.
Several other important issues were addressed in conformance with the ODA/HIPC objectives of the Italian government. For instance, the statement identified increased involvement of the IMF, World Bank, and creditor countries to encourage those multilateral development institutions that have not yet participated in this initiative to take part, encourage, and accelerate efforts to provide debt relief. Second, increased awareness of how recipient nations were using the funds was an important issue for the Italian delegation. By addressing the need to refrain from supporting "unproductive expenditures," the G7 statement Delivering on the Promise of the Enhanced HIPC Initiative ensured that efficiency in the appropriation of funds would continue to be an objective.
Although all the major decisions in the area of sustainable development and poverty reduction are in accord with the Italian position, they still do not warrant a grade of A+ because of a subtle discrepancy between the wording of the Plan and Italy's earlier stated position:
The Kananaskis G8 Summit confirmed 'good governance' as a prerequisite to qualify for the aid mechanisms for trade and investment. For instance, "We stressed the importance of good governance in countries benefiting from HIPC debt relief;" "We believe that ... our new development assistance commitments announced at Monterrey could be directed to African nations that govern justly, invest in their own people and promote economic freedom," etc. While this is by no measure an indication of Italy's poor performance at the Summit, it does contrast the country's earlier position. The statement in April 2002 by Hon. Antonio Fazio, Governor of the World Bank for Italy Development Committee, reveals that Italy would have preferred a fair approach to development regardless of the institutions governing the aid recipient: "Many of the poorest of the poor live in countries with weak institutions and policies." The fact that the G8 chose to ignore that the "development strategies [and] assistance only [to] poor good performing countries" would lead to "aid flows to a relatively small number of countries, also raising issues of absorptive capacity and macroeconomic imbalances while failing to address the problems of the vast majority of the world's poor" provides clear evidence that the Italian concerns were overridden by Mr Bush's New Compact for Global Development that underlines good governance.
In addition, Italy did not secure explicit commitment for its "de-tax" proposal.
Objective 3: Conflict Prevention
Italy came to Kananaskis with several objectives within the category of conflict prevention-a declaration on India and Pakistan, addressing other (mainly Africa's) regional conflicts, and, most importantly, an action plan for the resolution of the crisis in the Middle East and a potential Peace Conference.
The Chairman's Statement, as well as the Africa Plan, mentioned all of these issues-but not to the extent that Italy would have desired.
Although the question of the Middle East received due attention at the Summit, the resultant declaration was nowhere close Italy's pre-Summit stated objective of holding (and hosting) a multipartite Peace Conference in Erice (Sicily) this summer. This, however, does not indicate a failure on Italy's part to secure support for its plan since Mr Berlusconi never even broached the subject at the Summit. It was in the end Mr Chirac to raise the question of a Peace Conference. In fact, immediately after Mr Bush's announcement that no progress would be made as long as Mr Arafat remains the head of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Mr Berlusconi rethought his position and sided with the United States. His statement that Mr Arafat should "make the honourable gesture and step aside" left the impression that, of all the European leaders, Mr Berlusconi's was the closest to Mr Bush's position. Although he did not go so far as to denounce Mr Arafat's leadership of the PA, between the traditional support for a legitimate Palestinian government (ostensibly the PA) and the newly found transatlantic friendship, Mr Berlusconi opted for the latter. Aid for the Palestinians-an area of Italy's particular activity-was a point of agreement among the G8. For the time being, however, Mr Berlusconi's Peace Conference remains a pipe dream. So does the usefulness of a trip to Egypt, Israel and Jordan, scheduled for July 2002. If he decides to follow through with this plan, he will find support in Russia's President Putin.
Overall, however, Italy has every reason for satisfaction. Antonio Palmieri, a parliamentarian of Forza Italia, indicated that "Berlusconi is collecting the first fruits of the new method imposed on the G8 in Genoa: propose innovative interventions, founded on a 'philosophy of concrete action,' and articulated in several phases-most importantly debt cancellation and investment in the poor states and the e-model." Building on the successes of the Genoa Summit and short of a few modified or unaddressed sub-objectives, all of Italy's broad objectives were ultimately recognized, endorsed, or furthered in Kananaskis.
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Prepared by Maria Banda and Lara Mancini
University of Toronto G8 Research Group
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