THE G8 summit meeting in 2007 will take place in a seaside village of 250 people in Mecklenburg–Western Pomeria, Germany. The village of Heiligendamm boasts an old–style luxury hotel now owned by the Kempinski chain which also owns the village, the sea shore and a congress centre. A press release disarmingly states that “The village was selected because of the good possibilities to block access to it”, adding, “Huge protests at the edge of the meeting are expected”. 2007 is going to be quite a year for Germany and Chancellor Merkel. It will hold the presidency of the European Union from January 1st and she will host the G8 summit in either May or June; it can't be held in July, the usual summit month, because it would ruin Heiligendamm's short tourist season. I like that! The French began these summit meetings in 1975 as a way of bringing together leaders of the five major industrial nations in an informal atmosphere following the 1973 oil crisis and the subsequent global recession. Today with eight permanent members and at least five other countries looking through the window and asking to be let in, they have lost most of any informality they may once have had. They have become a kind of economic Security Council. Their meetings also seem to coincide with bad news: last year the London bombings, this year the Middle East crisis. What will Heiligendamm in May or June 2007 bring?


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