Taormina, the small coastal city on the east coast of Sicily will be inundated by political and security officials this weekend. The reason? The G7 summit.
Being chosen over the original choice of Florence, Taormina is symbolic in two ways. Firstly, as explained by former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, the choice was made to improve the image of Sicily, which is often associated with the mafia. Secondly, more relevant to the summit itself, Sicily plays a primary role in the migrant crisis, a topic which together with the socio-economic conditions of Africa, Italy hoped to bring attention to at the summit – among the invited guests are the Presidents of Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, and Tunisia, and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia.
For the duration of the summit no migrant rescue boat will be allowed to arrive in Sicily.
Italy had hoped not to let security issues dominate the discussions, as the Americans were insisting, yet, with the terrorist attack in Manchester on May 22, just days before, security issues may just dominate the agenda.
Another topic set to be in the discussions is climate change. US President Donald Trump has previously called climate change a ‘hoax’, suggesting he would be willing to scrap the Paris Agreement and champion the coal industry. German Chancellor Angela Merkel leads hopes to convince Trump to rethink, as does Pope Francis who, during their meeting on Wednesday 24 May, gave Trump a copy of his encyclical on the environment, which he wrote in 2015. Despite disagreements between the Pope and Trump in the past regarding climate change, refugees, and Trump’s border wall, the meeting between them seems to have been a positive one, with Trump emerging ‘honoured’ and a peace-loving enthusiast. The French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to try and soften Trump’s position regarding climate change at a NATO meeting in Brussels, on May 25, just before the G7 summit begins.
Many are looking to Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to provide them with an insight to Donald Trump, who is seen as unpredictable. Since Trump’s election, Trudeau and his team have cultivated close ties to Trump and his administration, and are therefore in a position to provide advice on how to deal with the unpredictable Trump.
This will be the first G7 for Trump, the first G7 for UK Prime Minister Theresa May, the first G7 for the newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron, and the first G7 for Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.