News Column

Mexican Resort Prepares for Moment on Stage

June 18, 2012

Anne K Walters

Greeks may have endorsed a pro-bailout party in elections Sunday, but leaders arriving for the Group of 20 summit in Mexico still have European instability concerns at the front of their minds as the crisis there continues to weigh on the global economy.

Greek voters nearly 12,000 kilometres away from the G20 summit venue handed the conservative New Democracy party a win in an election seen as deciding the country's fate within the eurozone.

Leaders who will attend the G20 summit praised the development, though the winning party must still form a coalition goverment - a step that proved elusive following earlier elections last month.

European Union Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy already, in Los Cabos for talks with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, said they hope a government could be formed soon and that the bloc would continue to "stand by Greece."

"We look forward to work with the new government and to support the continued efforts of Greece to put its economy on a sustainable path," they said in a joint statement.

But despite the vote in Greece, problems still loom both in Athens and in world markets. The eurozone recently pledged up to 100 billion euros to buttress Spanish banks.

G20 leaders will face a push from the United States and France for more government efforts to encourage growth, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel continues to focus on austerity measures.

"Everybody knows this meeting is coming in an absolutely critical time," World Bank President Robert Zoellick said. "We are waiting for Europe to tell us what it is going to do."

The G20 should support Europe in efforts to contain the financial crisis, China's President Hu Jintao said Sunday in written remarks to Mexico's Reforma newspaper. He called Europe's sovereign debt crisis "an issue of general concern."

"The G20 should address it in a constructive and cooperative way, encourage and support efforts made by Europe to resolve it and send a signal of confidence to the market," he said.

Host Calderon had earlier characterized the moment ahead of the summit as key to the "well-being of humanity" and called for "visionary leadership."

"We stand before the second great crisis and will make important decisions for the next year," he said.

The White House has also stressed that Europe's condition is of utmost importance to the broader world economy.

Obama and many other leaders were due to arrive only late Sunday, with the meeting not kicking off until Monday afternoon. Sunday's programme included a meeting of business leaders and a summit between Mexican and EU officials.

The usually tranquil resort community at the tip of the Baja peninsula is full of armed military guards and checkpoints including some 4,600 security force members. But hardly a protester was in sight, with demonstrations set for the regional capital, La Paz, 150 kilometres away.

A bus carrying police officers involved in summit security overturned on a road between the towns of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo Sunday, injuring 10 officers, a spokesman said.

The Mexican presidency of the G20 has set economic stabilization, financial system strengthening, international financial architecture reform, food security and green growth as its top priorities.

The summit will also see Obama's first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin since Putin returned to that office this year.

Global flashpoint Syria will be among the issues discussed in a meeting on the sidelines of the summit Monday. Moscow has drawn widespread international condemnation for its role in selling weapons to Damascus, and, along with China, has so far blocked stronger international action against the regime in the UN Security Council.

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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