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The 2002 Summit of Eight held in Kananaskis, Alberta saw the Russian Federation take tremendous steps towards equal integration within both political and economic global frameworks. Calling it an " historic decision on the future of the G8," leaders of the world's wealthiest and most powerful nations agreed to Russia assuming the presidency and hosting the annual summit in 2006. The G8 - in looking to Russia to play a meaningful role in addressing global challenges - marked the "remarkable economic and democratic transformation that has occurred in Russia in recent years and in particular under the leadership of President Putin."
However, although President Putin engaged in detailed economic discussions with G8 leaders, the multilateral forum alone will not help solve Russia's economic hardships. While the G8 nations can contribute towards Russia's overall performance, conditions of sustainable growth will not be achieved without necessary domestic reforms. Thriving corruption, lack of constraining legal mechanisms to govern business activities, inadequate financial disclosure and transparency, prevailing unpredictability and instability of the market, technological underdevelopment and other domestic factors impede healthy economic growth in Russia. All these problems need be resolved at the national level. However, support from the G8 will no doubt act as catalyst for improvements in Russia's economic architecture, for recognition not only paves the way for Russian ascension in to the WTO but also builds confidence within those investing in Russia's future. If in the next year all members of the G8 recognize Russia as true market economy and begin treating it as an equal international trading partner, then and only then will President Putin's economic agenda at the Kananaskis Summit have succeeded. Thus, though the G8 members may act to encourage Russia's economic rise, at the end of the day it is the national government which has the capability to ensure that Western deeds are promoted, implemented and sustained through adequate domestic institutions.
As such, the key to continued Russian economic integration - such as its quest to join the World Trade Organization (WTO)- will depend on the extent of its commitment to positive political initiatives, namely counter terrorism. At this year's summit, the Russian federation demonstrated its commitment to the G8 Global Partnership against terrorism through its initiatives geared at the Non-proliferation of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. In a statement issued by G8 leaders at the 2002 Summit, a commitment was made to launch a new global initiative which will "support specific cooperation projects, initially in Russia, to address non-proliferation, disarmament, counter terrorism and nuclear safety issues." A financial commitment of up to $20 billion dollars was outlined as support for the project over the course of the next decade.
Further Russian cooperation in counter terrorist initiatives was reflected in a G8 statement dealing with the implementation of a new set of tough anti-terrorism measures centered primarily upon Cooperative G8 Action on Transport Security. Key points in the G8 action plan for land, sea and air transport were:
Russian cooperation in a counter-terrorist initiatives of such scope will no doubt aid its economic ascension into the global economy and will further serve as a catalyst for President Putin to engage Russia in the concert of developed and democratic states. After receiving a 'C' at last year's summit, Russian progress over the last year was formidably marked at this year's meetings in Canada.
Prepared by: Salimah Ebrahim and Yana Faynberg
University of TorontoG8 Research Group
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