The Guardian 4 June, 2008

Challenging the
West’s global domination

Vladimir Radyuhin

The first stand-alone meeting of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) at the level of Foreign Ministers, hosted by Russia, has signalled a "new quality cooperation".

The Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs, Education and Public Health of the five outreach nations — India, China, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico — also met in the pre-summit meetings of G-8 for the first time.

Meeting in Yekaterinburg (Central Russia), the BRIC Foreign Ministers undertook to turn the group into a powerful instrument to change the world. The four nations are home to 40 percent of humanity, three times the population of the G-8 countries. Their combined GDP, measured in terms of purchasing power, is only half that of the G-8, but are expected to overtake the G-8 by 2020.

India has turned around on the issues of Kosovo and Iran. On Kosovo, India joined Russia and China in denouncing the Serbian enclave’s unilateral independence as being "contrary to the UN Security Council Resolution 1244".

On Iran, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said India supported Tehran’s right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy, provided it fulfilled its international obligations.

He called for all outstanding issues of Iran’s nuclear program to be resolved through the International Atomic Energy Agency, and warned that "confrontation and destabilisation" in the region were adversely affecting the situation.

Remarkable shift

The most remarkable shift in India’s position came on the issue of joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which unites Russia, China and four Central Asian states. In Yekaterinburg Mr Mukherjee, for the first time, went on record to say that India aspired to full membership in the group.

Even though Russia has been a G-8 member for more than 10 years, it has few reasons to be happy with its involvement in that forum.

During Russia’s G-8 rotating presidency in 2006, Mr Putin sought to launch the process of transforming the West’s rich men’s club into a wider forum of the world’s major players.

However, Japan, which will host this year’s G-8 summit in July, has limited interaction with the outreach countries to a working breakfast. Mr Lavrov said Tokyo had rebuffed Moscow’s efforts to secure a more substantive involvement of the outreach countries rather than give them a place at the dining table.

Meeting less than two months before the G-8 summit, the BRIC countries strongly rejected Western unilateralism and called for a new world order.

"Building a more democratic international system founded on the rule of law and multilateral diplomacy is an imperative of our time," the Foreign Ministers of the four countries declared in a joint communiqué.

Even as they favoured "continued cooperation" of the outreach countries with G-8, the BRIC Ministers made it clear that this interaction must be fair and equal.

"Sustainable development of the global economy in the long-term as well as finding solutions to the acute global problems of our time, such as poverty, hunger and diseases are only possible if due account is taken of the interests of all nations and within a just global economic system," the BRIC communiqué said.

"We are the world’s fastest growing economies, we have many common interests in the globalised world and share many views on how to build a more democratic, fair and stable world," Russia’s Foreign Minister said.

"We are changing the way the world order is organised," Brazil’s Foreign Minister Celso Amorim summed up the Yekaterinburg talks.

The Hindu

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