Foreign Affairs

Borgo Egnazia G7: dossiers and curiosities

June 2024
By Paolo Bozzacchi

Not only Pope Francis, who will address peace in Ukraine and the Middle East and Artificial Intelligence and will meet one-to-one with ‘seven Heads of State.’ But also leaders in crisis at the first high-level international summit right after the European elections, the host Giorgia Meloni tempted to visibly bring home the new political success at the european elections, the hot dossier on the management of assets frozen to Russia, concerning stances from China, and the final joint declaration in the hands of the sherpas.

Inaugural dinner and jazz music with Mattarella
The G7 at Borgo Egnazia in Puglia, under the Italian Presidency, kicks off a summer full of crucial diplomatic appointments for the fate of international crises. And it does so with style. Starting from the evocative and iconic Puglia region location, to tomorrow’s inaugural dinner in three rooms of the noble floor of the Castello Svevo in Brindisi, the only event attended by the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella. The closed-door banquet will include a brief welcoming speech by the President of the Republic, followed by four courses of Puglia tradition: scorpion fish with sun-dried tomatoes and aromatic herbs with barattieri and Torre Guaceto fiaschetto tomatoes, tortelli stuffed with gurnard with julienne of smoked kingfish, dentex fillet with almonds from Toritto, and ending with a burrata cream with sweet tarallo crumble and ferrovia cherries. This will be followed by Carduus bitter and Fadi coffee. All catered by Pierangelo Argentieri, president of Federalberghi and director of Tenuta Moreno. Accompanying the dinner with Mattarella will be a mini jazz concert by saxophonist Stefano Di Battista, who will perform five pieces.

Meloni sails forward, others in difficulty or term expiration
Starting Friday, the program includes two days of dense discussion sessions. At the G7, the only European leader strengthened by the EU vote is Giorgia Meloni. The political moment is dark for Macron and Scholz, joined by the Japanese Kishida, who swims in the same waters. Carrying expiring mandates are leaders of the stature of Biden, Sunak, and Trudeau. And there are even those too busy saving the national government to attend the Italian G7 Summit: such is the case for South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, grappling with negotiations to form a coalition government after a bitter electoral defeat. That the host and current G7 President Giorgia Meloni is the only leader with political wind in her sails is certainly a more than positive starting point for the summit. Her challenge will be to convince the present colleagues in difficulty or nearing term expiration not to hesitate, to dare. And for the G7 tradition, this is no easy challenge. ‘Supported by the elections, Meloni enjoys the spotlight while Italy hosts the G7,’ writes the New York Times. ‘She has the chance to demonstrate her influence on an even larger stage.’

The Commitment of the Holy Father
‘At the G7 we will talk about artificial intelligence and also about peace. I will have bilateral meetings, there are requests from seven heads of state. I will meet them all.’ So said Pope Francis, demonstrating the maximum commitment of the Holy Father to peace and the ethical issue of the moment: Artificial Intelligence. ‘The Pope at the G7 will talk about ethical attention,’ anticipated Father Paolo Benanti, advisor to Pope Francis on AI and ethics of technology. He added: ‘The entire pontificate of Pope Francis is played out on these frontier issues. Think of how he started in Lampedusa with migrants, and how he continued with the encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ on the environment, and now on Artificial Intelligence. The Pope shows he has antennae that perceive where humanity is moving at this moment, and I think this will be one of the focuses of his speech at the G7, which will stimulate the greats of the Earth.’

The issue of the management of Russia’s assets
‘We will discuss how Ukraine can more quickly benefit from the proceeds of immobilized Russian assets. Russia must be held accountable for its crimes. And now we are making Russia pay,’ said Ursula Von der Leyen at the Berlin Conference for the Reconstruction of Ukraine. According to Biden and Macron, an agreement on the management of Russian assets is close, but in Europe, caution prevails and the knot is still to be untied. On the table are approximately 300 billion euros in value of Russian assets frozen in the West. Which alone generate interest of over 3.5 billion euros, theoretically not due to Russia. The USA is pushing for this money to act as a guarantee for a loan of up to 50 billion to be raised on the market (common bonds?), to be spent 90% on military aid and 10% on reconstruction. But Europeans have doubts in terms of legal and juridical coverage of the operation. And they fear that it could preclude future Russian investments in the Old Continent. The Bank of Italy governor, Fabio Panetta has already called for ‘wisdom and prudence, because there may be repercussions on the functioning of the international monetary system.’ While China on potential limits on Chinese financial institutions in transactions with Russia has warned: ‘The normal economic and commercial cooperation between China and Russia will not be interrupted by any third party.’

Rumors on the contents of the final joint declaration
The condemnation of the increasingly close relations between Russia and North Korea. This is the first preview by Kyodo news agency on what the final joint declaration of the Puglian Summit will include. In particular, the ‘military cooperation’ between Moscow and Pyongyang will be mentioned. In the draft in the hands of the sherpas, as leaks reveal, also a firm commitment to support Ukraine and concerns over the growing military assertiveness of China. But the next 24/48 hours could make a difference. Hopefully for the better.