World leaders use summit for political recharge
June 20, 1997
Web posted at: 12:39 p.m. EDT (1639 GMT)
From State Department Correspondent Steve Hurst
DENVER (CNN) -- Major international gatherings like the
Summit of the Eight in Denver this weekend have become
popular among world
leaders as political health spas, providing a chance to
revitalize up their images at home. The trend towards
self-congratulation has not gone unnoticed by analysts.
"Increasingly, these have become photo sessions that enable
each of the leaders to try to prove to his or her public that
he or she is a major player in the international economy on
the international stage," said Charles William Maynes,
president of the Eurasia Foundation.
Healthy or ailing, everyone seeks benefits
The fittest of the lot -- the likes of new British Prime
Minister Tony Blair -- are just looking to burnish that
healthy political glow.
Those who are ailing -- France's President Jacques Chirac to
name one -- seek the curative powers of the political hot
The Gaulist Chirac, battered in early elections, must now
share power with socialists wanting to reassert state control
over the economy. He will be looking for comfort among the
more like-minded free-marketers here.
Japanese leader Ryutaro Hashimoto is hoping for a political
recuperation period at the summit as well. He is braced
again for battle with Clinton over trade and closed markets
while struggling to put the once seemingly invincible
Japanese economy back on track.
A diversion from domestic troubles
And then there are those in the middle, who use the meetings
to shed a few political pounds and shine themselves up.
These include leaders like German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, both struggling with
deficits that complicate their quick adoption of a single
Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien recently saw his
majority in Parliament diminish, and, as with all Canadian
leaders, is tired of U.S. economic dominance in North
U.S. President Bill Clinton also falls into the middle
ground. The summit lets him get away from domestic scandals
nipping at his heels for a weekend, and instead brag about
the U.S. economy.
"We host our partners at a time when America's economy is the
healthiest in a generation and the strongest in the world,"
he told leaders gathered Thursday evening.
His pal and longtime G-7 wannabe, Russian President Boris
Yeltsin, has improved his status at the summit in just five
years, moving up from junior observer to within a hair's
breadth of full membership this time around. His success at
the summit has translated into a massive image boost to help
him out of the swamp of Russian politics.
It's photo-opportunism at its best, but defenders of these
confabs claim a great cross-fertilization of fine minds
proceeds apace, despite the overt politicking and posturing
for domestic audiences.
Related sites:Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
© 1997 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.