German business interests have criticized the exclusion of President Vladimir Putin from the Group of Seven’s June 7-8 meeting in Bavaria. The G7 became the Group of Eight when Russia joined in 1998, but dropped its newest member last year after the country annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.
Still, Eckhard Cordes, the head of Germany’s Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, has told the Sunday edition of the right-wing newspaper Die Welt that Putin had really ought to be invited to the talks.
“A meeting of the G7 plus Russia could contribute to solving the crisis and move Russia toward constructive steps in the Ukraine conflict,” Cordes told Die Welt am Sonntag.
Former Brandenburg State Premier Matthias Platzeck, the current head of the German-Russian forum, seemed to agree with the assessment made by Cordes. The Social Democrat said that issues ranging from trade to security could only improve with Russia’s help. He also cited the Minsk ceasefire, negotiated with Putin to help bring an end to Ukraine’s civil war, climate-protection measures and nuclear non-proliferation agreements – as well as the EU’s dependence on Russia’s natural resources.
“Russia must return to the G7,” Platzeck told the newspaper.
The G7 nations are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the US. In addition to dropping Russia from the group, nations have slapped sanctions on Kremlin officials following what the international community called the illegal annexation of Crimea.
Ahead of the talks, G7 finance ministers have expressed their displeasure at Greece’s compliance with the austerity measures imposed from abroad.
Germany has set up a hot line for those with inquiries about border security measures set up ahead of the summit.
Additionally, Russia has imposed travel restrictions on seven Germans, according to the daily newspaper Bild. Michael Fuchs, vice president of the national parliament’s conservative CDU-CSU group, and Franco-German former member of the European Parliament Daniel Cohn-Bendit are on the list.
About 2 million people have fled the fighting between separatists and Ukrainian government forces, with just over half of those internally displaced. The conflict and Russia’s alleged involvement has brought the country’s relations with the United States and EU to the lowest point since the end of the Cold War.