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Head of the Federal Chancellery, Minister Wolfgang Schmidt, urges for strengthening of multilateralism beyond the G7

In his keynote speech at the Think7 Summit, Head of the Federal Chancellery, Minister Wolfgang Schmidt, urged for strengthening multilateralism beyond the G7. “For as dramatic and tragic the Russian war against Ukraine is, it must not lead us to neglect our responsibility for long-term global transformation and challenges,” he said clearly and added that the G7 need to make sure that the rest of the world must not be forgotten. “My fear is a fragmentation of the world,” Schmidt said frankly at the event in Berlin. If the G7 were not to act cautiously, they would risk a divide between the G7 on the one hand and BRICS Plus on the other hand.
The German government puts a strong focus on counteracting these potential developments: Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz was unable to attend the Think7 Summit on 23 May, as he paid visits to Senegal, Niger, and South Africa – “to engage and make sure that it is not the West dealing with this problem, but to take into consideration all that happens in the Global South.”
Developing and emerging countries from the Global South are hit particularly severely by the crises of our times: The COVID-19 crisis put further pressure on already strained public finances, and Russia’s war against Ukraine leads to surging food and energy prices. Strengthening unity among the G7 will be key, Schmidt pointed out, but also the formation of broader alliances – including all partners that are interested in strengthening multilateralism in these difficult times – may be a way forward.
According to Minister Wolfgang Schmidt, the G7 Engagement Groups, such as the Think7, play an important role in shaping effective crisis responses. They can provide for continuity over several G7 presidencies and are a pool to generate fresh ideas. From a government point of view, “it is difficult to keep a strategic vision and have fresh ideas,” Schmidt said. “If managed in a good way and understanding from both sides, these processes can really improve the society’s and government’s response to crises.”
The Think7 have formulated policy recommendations on a wide range of topics: Climate and environment, social cohesion, international cooperation, sustainable economic recovery, and global health. The policy recommendations that have been summarized in the Think7 Communiqué shall inform the G7 process leading up to the G7 Summit in Elmau at the end of June.
What will be the outcome of a successful G7 Summit? For Wolfgang Schmidt, the G7 Summit will be successful when the G7 strengthen their unity, keep in mind the rest of the world, progress on the climate club, and overcome the potential exhaustion that might kick in after two years of an ongoing crisis. Most importantly, he hopes “that the G7 live up to the expectations”.

Watch the keynote