Norway Takes Aim at G-20

“One of the Greatest Setbacks Since World War II”

Norway’s foreign minister has described the group of the 20 most important industrialized and developing nations, which will meet this weekend in Toronto, as the “greatest setback” for the international community since World War II. In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, Jonas Gahr Støre explains why the organization won’t function in the long run.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Foreign Minister, this week the most important industrial and developing nations will meet at the G-20 summit in Toronto. You oppose the organization. Is that because Norway, which is one of Europe’s richest countries, is not a part of it?

Jonas Gahr Støre: No. The G-20 had a meaning when the financial crisis broke out, the situation was serious and joint decisions had to be swiftly made in order to calm the markets. This importance remains. But the G-20 is a grouping without international legitimacy — it has no mandate and it is unclear which functions it actually has.

SPIEGEL: The president of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet, views the G-20 as being the main forum for steering the global economy.

Støre: It is for precisely that reason that one must be allowed to question its legitimacy. After World War II, we set up international organizations like the United Nations, the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund with clear responsibilities and clear mandates. We need to make them fit for the new realities in the world and for the new balance of power.

SPIEGEL: Isn’t the G-20 an attempt to do precisely that?

Støre: The G-20 is a self-appointed group. Its composition is determined by the major countries and powers. It may be more representative than the G-7 or the G-8, in which only the richest countries are represented, but it is still arbitrary. We no longer live in the 19th century, a time when the major powers met and redrew the map of the world. No one needs a new Congress of Vienna.

SPIEGEL: Who do you feel is missing from the current grouping of major powers?

Støre: South Africa is part of it, but not as a representative of Africa. Saudi Arabia is part of it, but not as a representative of the Arab world. So why is the European Union represented in addition to having four individual EU member states and two others as observers? That is not acceptable. You don’t have to change everything, but with a few small adjustments you could achieve a regional representation like that which we have achieved with the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank, among other organizations. We need the kind of strong, smaller alliances, or “voting groups,” of the type that we see, for example, with the Nordic or the Baltic states, so that we can react quickly.

To read the rest of the interview, click here.

Source: Der Spiegel

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